Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable Recap

First 2016 Quarterly Meeting

Meeting Recap

See Meeting Agenda

On March 17th, the first of the 2016 Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable meetings was hosted at the Farm and Home Center of Dutchess County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension.  In attendance were more than 50 people representing regional trail and land conservation organizations, local and County government, and the interests of private citizens and businesses.

The mission statement for the Roundtable was officially announced:

The Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable brings together stakeholders to foster trail development on a local and regional scale through networking, information sharing, and enhancing access to financial resources and technical assistance. 

Any comments about the mission statement can be directed to Karissa Stokdal at info@winnakee.org.

Karl Beard of the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program gave a Karl presentationpresentation regarding National Trails Day. Sponsored by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day occurs on the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year) and is America’s largest celebration of trails. Local trail groups and recreation departments are strongly encouraged to participate.  Register your National Trails Day event here! Participating in the event is a great way for Dutchess County municipalities and trail organizations to get behind a cohesive and coordinated effort to promote themselves and the many wonderful trail-based recreational opportunities in Dutchess County.

dan presentationDaniel Jeanson of Hudson River Valley Greenway spoke of the Greenway’s 2016 trail-system gap analysis. The Hudson River Valley Greenway gap analysis steering committee and consultants, Alta Planning + Design and Behan Planning and Design, held their first of several monthly meetings on February 29, 2016. The group examined existing conditions, including available GIS data, and discussed potential emerging trail projects that would complement the effort. The gap analysis will identify likely connections that would complete the trunk line north/south Greenway Trail route from New York City to the Capital region and beyond. The next steering committee meeting will be April 11th, 2016. For more information, contact Beth Campochiaro.

Mary Kay Vrba of Dutchess County Tourism offerent pertinent information about about branding and promoting a unified trail identity in Dutchess County. Striving for consistency and branding in trails and trail maps will make hiking in Dutchess County safer and more accessible to tourists. In closing, Mary Kay urged trail groups to always submit their events to Dutchess County Tourism, as County Tourism outreach and publication efforts reach thousands of people throughout the County and beyond. Likewise, if an organization has a brochure on their trail system or park, Dutchess Tourism will distribute it free of charge. Dutchess Tourism can be contacted here.

Robert Wills, Senior GIS Project Coordinator for Dutchess County, informed audience members of a portal on the County website containing maps of all known public-access trails. If an organization’s trail is not listed, contact Robert Wills and a map of the trail will be created and uploaded to the site. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County also made clear a willingness to assist trail projects in need of mapping services. Contact Jeff Luoma for assistance.

Scenic Hudson‘s Amy Kacala and Emily Dozier of Dutchess County amy and emily presentationPlanning and Development closed the meeting’s presentations with an update on The Beacon Line. There is an interest in creating a trail alongside the non-revenue rail line that extends east from the City of Beacon to the Town of Pawling and South into Putnam County. The Beacon Line poses exciting connectivity potentials- including an essential link in the ongoing effort to connect NYC with Dutchess County and beyond to the Catskill Mountains. Scenic Hudson, Dutchess County Planning, and Winnakee Land Trust have recently partnered to produce and distribute a survey intended to gauge public/municipal interest in the project, the ability to take on the project, resources available, timeline, etc. The results of the survey will be delivered during a two-hour meeting on April 5, 2016 from 2 pm- 4 pm at the Fishkill Town Hall. Those interested in the trail are encouraged to attend.

The meeting was concluded with the following trail project updates:

  • Chris Morris of New York State Parks announced that Taconic State Park is in the beginning phases of a master plan. The next public meeting will be held April 2nd in Copake. To learn more, contact Chris Morris.
  • Bob LaColla, Fishkill Town Supervisor, announced an update on the Fishkill Ridge. Beacon is working on a northern extension of the trail and hopefully within the next couple of years, it will connect with the Wappinger Trail System.
  • Sandy Washburn, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of LaGrange, gave a few updates on the Nature Play Trail coming to Freedom Park within the next year. Local Scout Troops are currently working on the play stations and a site has been selected for a tree house. A ribbon cutting for the tree is anticipated June 18th. Contact Sandy Washburn for more information.
  • Bob Balkind, Dutchess County Commissioner of Public Works,
    announced that the County is working on the completion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. HVRT is hoping to complete design work and have construction plans done by 2017 but currently, the project is underfunded. Dutchess County will be partnering with HVRT Association to apply for a TIGER grant but need letters of support from the community. Supporters of the continuation and development of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail are asked to send letters to Robert Balkind at rbalkind@dutchessny.gov
  • Amy Kacala of Scenic Hudson announced that the Fjord Trail is moving ahead. They are hoping to break ground for construction in November of this year.

The next Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable will be hosted June 23, 2016, location TBA. More details and meeting agenda to follow.

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