Outdoor enthusiasts in the greater Plattsburgh area received a major boost with the announcement that the state awarded a grant to Champlain Area Trails (CATS) to create a trail map of the eastern or “Champlain Valley” section of Clinton County. By illustrating and describing the local hiking/skiing trails, the map will inform residents and visitors about nearby recreational opportunities, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality.
“One of CATS’ goals is to create trails in and between Champlain Valley communities,” said CATS Executive Director Chris Maron. “We’ve had a lot of success in Essex County and now want to see how we can serve Clinton County. A first step is to make this map. Thanks to this grant, we’ve contracted with ADK guidebook author David Thomas-Train to identify and describe the existing trails with the goal of publishing the map by October. This will bring more attention to the local trails, inspire people to explore them, and encourage the creation of more trails.”
The Clinton County trail map will be patterned after the trail map CATS publishes annually for the Champlain Valley region of Essex County. That map has been given high marks for informing people of local hiking opportunities, highlighting the new trails CATS creates every year, and increasing patronage of local businesses.
“We will talk with existing hiking clubs and trails organizations to get their ideas, input, and help in identifying trails,” said Maron. “This may lead to finding ways to connect some of the trails and create larger town-to-town trails. Because most of the land in the Champlain Valley is privately owned, we’re accustomed to working with private landowners to allow trails on their properties and invite landowners to contact us about possibly having a trail on their property.”
The Clinton County Trail Map is part of a larger outreach project CATS is embarking on to advance its mission of creating trails, saving land, and enhancing the valley’s outdoor recreation-based economy. It is supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
CATS Board Chairman Evan George said, “The awarding of the New York Conservation Partnership Grant is recognition that CATS’ success in its mission to make trails and conserve land while promoting economic vitality in the Champlain Valley region can now be applied to Clinton County. It’s inspiring to the CATS board and staff and all our volunteers to have such confidence placed in this effort to expand hiking opportunities there. We are thankful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and the New York State Legislature for investing in this effort.”
Since its inception in 2002, New York State’s Conservation Partnership Program has awarded more than 820 grants totaling $17.2 million in NYS Environmental Protection Funds to over 80 different land trust organizations across New York. The state’s investment has leveraged over $19 million in additional funding from local communities and private donors.
“This state funding is important for our communities,” said Maron. “It promotes healthy physical activity, gets people out in nature, conserves natural areas and farmland, and enhances local economies. Publishing a trail map for Clinton County’s Champlain Valley region every year that continually has new trails that CATS and others create, will be a wonderful resource for everyone.”