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St. Lawrence County sets public hearing on trail

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County will have a public hearing at 6:50 p.m. May 6 on opening public land to all-terrain vehicles as part of the process necessary to open a multi-trail system this year.

“It’s one step at a time,” said Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, the board’s representative to a county trail advisory committee.

The public hearing is part of the process of amending a local law the county passed in 2006 for a pilot system that will expand areas ATVs can traverse.

“When you open county-owned property to ATVs, it’s different than if you’re opening them up to hunters, joggers and others,” Mr. MacKinnon said. “A public hearing is the process we follow when we’re having a local law.”

The public acreage under consideration includes multiple adjoining parcels and other land off Santamont Road, property off Lake Ozonia Road, Sylvan Falls Road in the town of Hopkinton and off Route 3 in the town of Pitcairn.

“Most of these were taken for back taxes and then declared for reforestation,” Mr. MacKinnon said.

Advocates have worked on the multiuse trail system for years as a way to link to networks in Lewis and Franklin counties. Some trails in St. Lawrence County, particularly in the towns of Fine, Clifton, Clare and Russell, are already open but there has been no overall connectivity.

The process under which St. Lawrence County is opening trails is designed to avoid the kind of legal problems that have stopped ATV usage in the past, Mr. MacKinnon said. With some exceptions, the system is intended for use by ATVs, horseback riders, snowmobiles, joggers and bicyclists.

“At some point, we’re going to have a grand opening,” Mr. MacKinnon said.

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