Finger Lakes Trail volunteers protect national scenic trail
In these troubled times, record numbers of people are seeking comfort through gentle walks or challenging hikes. Those of us living in the Finger Lakes region are fortunate to have many trails which afford access to the solace of nature. These trails exist because of the vision and dedication of organizations and thousands of volunteers. Threats to continuous foot paths are ever increasing due to changes in land use patterns.
For the past six years, Dave Newman of Mendon has served as Vice President of Trail Preservation for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. The FLTC builds, maintains, and protects over 1,000 miles of premier hiking trails in New York State. It hosts 422 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Nearly 5,000 miles in length, the NCNST is the longest National Scenic Trail. It stretches from North Dakota to the junction with the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. The North Country Trail Association recently gave national recognition to Newman’s work by awarding him the 2020 Trail Protector of the Year.
The Finger Lakes Trail System crosses about 750 privately owned parcels. Newman and volunteers like Penn Yan’s Lynda Rummel, FLTC VP for Trail Quality and previous NCTA Distinguished Service award winner, work tirelessly to ensure these paths of refuge remain available to all. Over 100 landowners have donated permanent trail easements to the FLTC. According to Newman, these landowners epitomize “the old fashioned civic pride of having the fortune to own a piece of this world and the ability to share that fortune with us.”
Sometimes it can take years of patience to achieve permanent trail protection. Lynda Rummel describes Newman as, “a man with a mission, possessing extraordinary persistence and creativity.” The NCTA award celebrates Newman’s “easy going manner which encourages both landowners and volunteers who wish to work with landowners.”
Newman finds the volunteer work rewarding. “It is fun to use the many skills I learned in my time at Kodak and Moser Baer Technology to help manage the preservation projects for the FLTC in my retirement. But best of all has been working with the Board and members of the FLTC as we work on a shared vision to maintain and permanently protect the FLTC System for future generations.”
Newman, Rummel, and other FLTC and NCTA volunteers are always open to talk with any landowner or volunteer interested in helping protect the trail forever. More information can be found at fingerlakestrail.org or northcountrytrail.org.