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Andy Morris-Friedman: A call to trail users to work together to land state funding

To the editor:

Here in western Massachusetts we are blessed with lots of places where we can have outdoor activities. We have water trails for boaters, mountain and rail tails for bikers, walking trails for hikers and equestrian trails for horseback riders. In winter there are trails for cross-country skiers and snow mobilers. Tens of thousands of people use these miles of trails every year.

But I wouldn’t call them happy trails, at least not yet.

That’s because the people who use the trails don’t get along. It’s the classic case of conflicting use of the same space. The hikers don’t like the bikers, or the horseback riders. Kayakers dislike jet-skiers, who dislike the motor boats. The cross-country skiers don’t mix will with the snowmobilers. And perhaps no one likes all-terrain vehicles. But they don’t like us either, because they don’t have a place for their idea of fun.

Can’t we all just get along?

One thing that we all agree on is that we want more money for our shared trails.

This presents us with an opportunity to come together as a trail community, to try to secure money from the state’s environmental bond fund program. A 3 percent set-aside for trails would mean close to $30,000 a year for trail maintenance, expansion and repair.

Now, volunteers are doing most of this work. A little bit of money can go a long way in improving the entire statewide trail system. That’s where the new trail users group some in. We’re trying to create a unified constituency that can be presented to lawmakers who will consider if a set-aside is appropriate.

We need to put aside our differences and come together as a community to lobby for this money. Once everyone has a seat at the table, we can discuss how to divide up our portions.

And I suspect that after working together to get the funding, we may have an easier time allocating it fairly than we might think. That really would be happy trails. If you are a trail user I urge you to attend the next meeting of this fledgling group March 18 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hadley Senior Center, 46 Middle St., Hadley.

Andy Morris-Friedman

Hadley

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