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PostSubject: 800 miles of trails   800 miles of trails Icon_minitimeWed Apr 22, 2015 10:36 am

Found this article about riding in Pa. Looks hopeful.

800-mile ATV trail proposed by riding club

April 7, 2015

The Express

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For The Express

LOCK HAVEN - If you travel to some southern states, even to the west, you might pass an ATV cruising along the road. It may make a Pennsylvanian turn his head a little harder, because here ATVs are limited to private ground and designated trails.

Article Photos

Members of the Central Mountains ATV Association have been working on a way to get more outdoor enthusiasts like themselves connected by combining trails throughout Clinton County. Making a regional trail system for these riders will encourage tourism in the area.
Dunnstable Township supervisors, from left, Bob Mann, Don Weise and John Lucas study maps of a proposed all-terrain vehicle trail extension.

But, something is in the workings to hopefully change that.

The Central Mountains ATV Association - a large club of ATV and UTV riders originally formed in this area - has been working on a way to get these kinds of "off-roaders" connected.

The club is comprised of more than 500 members who hail from all over the state from Wilkes-Barre, to Allentown, Harrisburg and even from other states.

"There seemed to be this collective interest in expanding opportunity for people to ride, and many are family-riding oriented," Rich Wykoff, tourism coordinator for the club, said.

As the club rolled the idea around about expanding trails in the region. The Clinton County Economic Partnership tourism committee began to look at the economic impact of what a larger riding opportunity could bring.

"The Clinton County Economic Partnership Tourist Promotion Agency supports the responsible development of additional legal ATV trails that can enhance the riding experience and at the same time connect the riders with local businesses," Pete Lopes, director of chamber and tourism for the partnership said. "In rural Pennsylvania small businesses need all the help they can get. If we can use existing snowmobile trails and some township roads to connect riders with restaurants, gas stations and lodging it could mean the difference between keeping a business open or closing."

Research moved on, Wykoff said. They looked to neighboring state West Virginia and its famous Hatfield and McCoy's trail system as a model for what they wanted to do here.

"We talked to them and found out in 2014 they completed a second impact study so we had fresh data to work with. There was significant income for that state that comes from ATV business and a lot of it comes from PA," Wykoff said.

A map has been developed with more then 800 miles proposed for this trail system.

The PAOHV Pennsylvania Off-Highway Vehicle Association, who represents recreational riding in the state, is helping the club get rolling by giving them tips on do's and don'ts.

The Clinton County commissioners have also been involved. All three commissioners - Pete Smeltz, Joel Long and Jeff Snyder -are in support of the ATV trail happening.

"We are going around with a representative from the ATV club and talking to municipalities. We are being well received," Snyder commented.

He said they have been to Beech Creek Borough, Woodward and Gallagher townships and some others in the county, and are making appointments to speak with others that would be involved with the trail.

The proposed trail will connect trail systems already in place starting in place starting in Clinton County like The Bloody Skillet - which is maintained and regulated by DNCR. The club said it will encompass township roads, to which each township will have to give permission to use.

"We are getting a starting point where we can take some existing trails, and the municipalities can pass an ordinance to allow ATVs to ride on township roads," Snyder said, adding only township roads and not state routes unless the trail only crosses over those.

A proposed trail will connect Clinton, Centre, Potter, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, Cameron and a small portion in Lycoming County and moves into four state forest districts and 59 townships.

Henry Sorgen, club president, said the townships proposed have all almost been visited and know about the trail idea.

Sorgen said they have found ways to help pay for signage and also deal with the big worry - liability.

"We are saying to townships ... we can use your township roads and bring money to your businesses and townships. We are finding out we have got government service to help pay for the signage and grunt work, and we tell them ways through legislation and zoning that they can take away the liability," Sorgen said.

Commissioner Snyder said the county is working with an environmental consultant engineering group to get the scope of the work it will take to put this trail system in. The county is funding this effort and will be eventually looking into grant funding to help it along.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources monitors, maintains and regulates legal trail systems across the state located on state forest ground. Some of those trail systems are the ones the club is trying to connect to, but the club is avoiding any "new" areas using state forest roads or land.

Sorgen said this proposed trail system plays into the DCNR GAP study, which according to the agency, is a trail gap analysis study that was intended to be the first step in a long-term process shedding new light on gaps in the statewide trail network and revealing attitudes that will help shape trail-building strategies and funding policies over the next five years or more. It was released last August.

"After the county commissioners and tourism of Clinton County approached us with helping with thisand DCNR coming out (with GAP study) we figured if we connect our own state trail system it would be perfect to do something that coincides with DCNR," Sorgen said.

The state agency has met with the club and now has viewed the map. There are very few places where the trail touches on state forest roads or trails not already OKed for ATVs.

"The Central Mountain ATV Association is in the process of working with DCNR to design a system that utilizes existing snowmobile trails and former logging roads to join small communities and minimize impacts on the environment and on other users," Senator Joseph B. Scarnati, Republican 25th District said.

The proposed trail is designed using municipality roads, pre-existing trails that run parallel to forestry roads used for snowmobile trails, power lines and pipelines, and some low use forestry roads, to which they said DCNR will have to advise the club on Sorgen said.

Only about 200 miles of the 814 proposed will even be on DCNR regulated land, that is outside of the designated ATV trail systems already in place.

"Our meeting with DCNR was productive. At this moment it seems that the GAP study is on the back burner, but there are a few areas they saw where they may be able to work with us," Sorgen said.

"Bureau of Forestry personnel have met with proponents to discuss a very conceptual plan proposing a series of connections through state forest lands via township roads and private properties that essentially would link four existing state forest ATV trail systems. We are reviewing that proposal. We are not considering use of state forest roads to make any of these connections," Terry Brady, Deputy Press Secretary for the Bureau of Forestry and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said.

"There is not private ground involved except what is already in existence in Potter County, one piece in Beech Creek and a small patch of woods to get to the connector," Sorgen said.

Also included in these 800-plus miles is the membership-driven Snow Shoe Rail Trail, a large ATV trail located in Clinton, Clearfield and Centre counties. SSRT has played an integral part in planning the new system.

Conservation has been kept in mind and at the forefront in planning the trail's route. The club said they are avoiding sensitive areas that should not be disturbed.

"Protective lands like swamps ... that have unique species that exist no where else ... we are doing everything we can to skirt them and their watersheds," Wykoff said.

The drive isn't just about riding opportunities, but also how to keep businesses in these very rural areas - in business.

"A lot of key stake holders are businesses. On Coudersport Pikeall of them would like us to do something because their business is dropping off," Wykoff said. "Cross Forks same thing there."

Snowmobilers bring in commerce, but only during winter months when there is a good winter to ride.

"There is no doubt that the closing of the Kettle Creek and Whiskey Springs area riding trails due to the coal remediation project, has had a negative impact on local hotels, restaurants and businesses. The increased riding opportunities proposed by Central Mountains ATV club will increase tourism and have a very positive effect on local businesses," State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, said.

The proposed ATV trail system will allow riders to get through two or three towns, stop for gas, food or even stay and keep moving on.

"There are hundreds if not thousands of people (from here) who go to West Virginia. That doesn't make sense for our citizens to be spending dollars in another state. We should keep the dollars here and get business growth from it," Commissioner Snyder said.

"An ATV trail system promises to have a significant impact on local economies that are struggling and will be a boost to small, family-owned businesses that provide food, lodging and services," state Sen. Joseph Scarnati, R-Brockport, said of the Clinton, Potter, Jefferson, Elk, Centre, Lycoming counties areas.

In December of last year there were162,241 active ATV registrations and 101,112, limited ATV registered. For snowmobiles registered there are 34,314 and 2,733, limited registered. Limited registered means machine sold, but not registered.

"I have been a staunch proponent of connecting riding enthusiasts with safe and enjoyable trails, and was actively involved in creating the Bloody Skillet connector trail, as well as the Cruise for a Cure ATV ride held in western Clinton County," Hanna said. "I continue to support riding opportunities throughout the Commonwealth".

"We are about to present this map and let people see the potential," Wykoff said.

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PostSubject: Re: 800 miles of trails   800 miles of trails Icon_minitimeFri Apr 24, 2015 11:01 am

That's cool. I could go to PA for 800 miles!
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