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Funds awarded to biking trails project

Riders on the Wheelerville Trails stop for a moment to take in the scenery. (Photo courtesy of Evan Williams)

CAROGA — The town has been awarded just under $65,000 from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for construction on the Wheelerville trails project.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recognized the smart growth grant recipients, including the town of Caroga. The grant supports protective cultural amenities, recreation and economic growth by awarding nearly $2 million to 27 communities and organizations.

The DEC grant provides aid for community development by collaborating initiatives throughout the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves.

This round of funding focuses on projects whose goal is to highlight the age-friendly characteristics of Adirondack and Catskill communities.

In Caroga, the Wheelerville Trail will receive grant funding, said town board member Jeremy Manning.

A rider makes a sharp corner on the Wheelerville Trails. (Photo courtesy of AFTA)

“It’s an exciting opportunity for the town to make a major investment in our recreational infrastructure,” Manning said.“Presently, we have limited mountain biking opportunities in Caroga, and this grant will allow us to bring in some of the finest trail builders in the Northeast to build high-quality trails that will cater to riders of all abilities.”

The grant looks at specific communities who officials feel will best be able to implement smart development and preservation. The funding will leverage existing state investments to enhance further economic development by providing amenities for people of all ages. Smart growth grants help communities capitalize on their natural attractions in a way that is sustainable for municipalities.

“We expect this will be a boost for daily tourism to Caroga, as riders come from the surrounding area to challenge themselves on the Wheelerville trails. We also hope it will increase the quality of life for current and future residents of Caroga,” said Manning.

Resident and mountain bike enthusiast Mike Feldman said the significance of the grant is that it benefits everyone, citing that it is an asset to the area’s tourism industry, as well as a place for people to get out and be active.

“The Wheelerville Bike Trails will be an added tourism boost to the area. Trail systems like what’s planned in Wheelerville are called stacked loops,” he said. “A novice, intermediate trail forms the core loop and then progressively harder loops are stacked, or branched out, from the core. This provides trails for all abilities and encourages active participation and motivation for skills development. Professionally built trails are also a great way to bring families out to ride bikes.”

A backhoe prepares a new trail on the Wheelerville Trails. (Photo courtesy of AFTA)

Other nearby recipients of the DEC grant include $100,000 to the village of Speculator Historic Fire Tower Assembly Project; $66,500 for the Hamilton County Trails; and $75,000 to the town of Lake George for the McPhillips Preserve at French Mountain Project.

Funding is available on a reimbursement basis. The town of Caroga has three years to complete the project, though the town will likely try to complete the bulk of the first phase — covered by the grant — this summer, Manning said. The grant will help the multi-use Wheelerville Trails project specifically with upkeep, as well as updates.

“The funds will be primarily be used for new trail construction. They will pay for machinery, materials, tools and labor,” said Manning. “We will also be partnering with the Adirondack Foothills Trails Alliance who will help with construction, ongoing maintenance and marketing of the trail system.”

The DEC has worked for over a decade to provide smart growth planning activity within the Adirondack and Catskill parks. The grant helps park communities to retain their heritage through their natural landscape.

To learn more about the grant visit dec.ny.gov or townofcaroga.com.

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