In an example of grassroots government, new state regulations clear the way for snowmobilers to use the Canalway Trail. The activity previously had been prohibited along the 280-mile trail that parallels most of the New York State Canal System in Upstate New York.
With the consent of local communities, snowmobile organizations now can receive permits to operate on the Canalway Trail under new regulations of the New York State Canal Corporation. Private snowmobile operators also can use trails that have been authorized by the Canal Corporation.
Snowmobile clubs MUST obtain a resolution of support from the municipality where the Canalway Trail is located before applying for a PERMIT from the Canal Corporation. A municipality has the option to continue the prohibition along its stretch of the trail. The regulations apply to lands under the jurisdiction of the Canal Corporation.
Canal Corporation Director Carmella R. Mantello said, “We have heard loud and clear from snowmobile clubs and communities throughout the corridor that the existing policy was curtailing recreational opportunities and limiting the potential economic impact that snowmobiling brings to upstate New York communities during the winter months. We are pleased to have pursued and successfully implemented this common-sense change for New York’s snowmobile enthusiasts and the communities they visit.”
Dave Perkins, trails coordinator for the New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA), said, “The New York State Snowmobile Association is pleased with this rules change. The snowmobile community has worked hard to support changing this rule. Snowmobile clubs in Washington, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, and Orleans counties have demonstrated they can responsibly and safely establish canal-based trails to the benefit of trail users and businesses adjacent to these trails.”
Stephen Lewis, director of snowmobiling for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “OPRHP is pleased to have worked with the Canal Corporation to allow snowmobiling on Canal system lands. Working in partnership with local governments and snowmobile clubs who maintain the trail sections, the Canalway will offer countless miles of groomed trails in some of our state’s most beautiful winter recreation areas. Both snowmobile enthusiasts and the communities surrounding the Canalway are certain to benefit from this good news.”
The Canal Corporation Board approved the change in 2009. The benefits and impacts of the new regulations were successfully tested during pilot projects on some segments of the Canalway Trail. Comments favoring the proposed regulations were received from a number of snowmobile organizations.
A snowmobile club will be required to show proof of the liability insurance that all NYSSA clubs are required to obtain through a blanket insurance policy administered by the New York State Snowmobile Association and funded by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
The snowmobile club that is issued a permit agrees to assume stewardship responsibilities for that section of the trail. This can include maintaining and improving the trail at no cost to the Canal Corporation.
“We have found through our pilot project that the snowmobile clubs take great pride in helping maintain the trails they use, and are great partners in ensuring these trails are well groomed for the year-round activities they support,” Mantello said. “We are confident that this change will help even more New York residents and visitors enjoy the New York State Canal System as a four-season destination, maximizing the benefits of this historic asset to communities all across the state.”
In addition to snowmobiling, a wide array of other events and activities can be found throughout the canal corridor during the winter months. The complete 2010/2011 Calendar of Events is available online at http://www.nyscanals.gov/exvac/calendar/index.html . Please visit the website frequently throughout the winter months for updates and new activities.