A rail trail for Earth Day

To the editor:

With Earth Day, many of us will pause to reflect on the serious threats facing our environment and consider the world our children and grandchildren will inherit from us.

We and our three young children (ages 7, 5, 3) love the Adirondacks – as one of Earth’s last great wild places. We also appreciate that effective conservation requires both public support and solid economics.

Last year we had the good fortune to invest in a popular rental property near Lake Clear. Right out the kitchen window is the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor. We are avid outdoor enthusiasts, so one of the attractions was the prospect of a future Adirondack Rail Trail that would enable friends, family and visitors to safely and conveniently experience the Adirondack Park and communities along the way.

We’ve been surprised by the tenor of the opposition to this promising rail trail. Years ago, there was some opposition to the Walkway Over the Hudson project as well. It now stands as one of New York’s premier tourism draws. Who knew that a refurbished railroad trestle could revitalize Poughkeepsie and bring in a million visitors from around the world? (In its first 18 months, more than 850,000 people visited Walkway State Park, dramatically exceeding the original projections from Camion Associates.)

Across the country, and especially here in New York state, there are compelling success stories. The High Line in Manhattan, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail (and proposed Catskill Mountain Rail Trail) in Ulster County and the Zim Smith Trail in Saratoga County are among many repurposed railroad beds now recognized as drivers for tourism, healthy recreation, property value enhancement and business development.

Rail trails connect communities and bring people together – that is the simple beauty of these trails. Veterans, seniors, children, Olympic athletes, casual bike tourists and many others would all enjoy a well-designed Adirondack Rail Trail, together. In turn, family-friendly infrastructure projects like this will build a strong and diverse constituency for environmental conservation in the Adirondacks into the future.

We fully support the proposed Adirondack Rail Trail. As our kids get older, we look forward to off-road bike rides into Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, to Lake Clear beach and Charlie’s Inn, and to The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. A multi-purpose trail will make the Adirondacks a far more accessible destination for outdoor recreation, with so many benefits for those who live, work and recreate in the North Country.

Anne and Ethan Winter

Lake Clear and Saratoga Springs