The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will hold a public meeting to provide information and gather public input for the development of an amendment to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) to incorporate the 806-acre Mt. Hayden parcel located in the town of Windham, Greene County.

The meeting will he held on Wednesday, August 10 at 6:00 p.m. at the Mountain Top Library, 6093 Main St., Tannersville.

Written comments and suggestions regarding the use of the lands will be accepted by DEC until Sept. 26. Comments should be sent to: Maxwell Wolckenhauer, NYSDEC Region 4 Stamford suboffice, 65561 State Highway 10, Suite 1 Stamford, NY 12167; e-mail: r4.ump@dec.ny.gov

Foundation Seeks Mountain Bike Trail Extensions

By Daniel Zuckerman Columbia-Greene Media
WINDHAM Ė The Windham Area Recreation Foundation is encouraging people to send written comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation to see Mount Hayden be developed as a destination for mountain biking. They have until September 26 to send in their comments.
The project has been in the works for five years, according to the foundationís president, Nick Bove, and once the comments are forwarded to the DEC, the agency will respond to the comments and do more public outreach. For the foundation, it is important to have many people calling in, but there is no specific number they need to meet. This would also allow crews from the DEC to work on the trails, reducing the burden on the foundation.
"The state needs to hear how successful our partnership with them is," Bove said. "WARF has spent quite a bit of money building trails on state land."
Bove said that the main push for the mountain bike industry in Windham has been due to the Mountain Bike World Cup held in town in 2010. People are starting to see the economic development that could happen. Heís found that there hasnít been much opposition to the project.
"Since 2010, weíve really rolled up our sleeves," he said. "Our efforts lobbying the state paid off."
The four areas that the foundation is focusing on are the Elm Ridge Trail System, Windham Mountain Bike Park, Mount Hayden Trail System and the Windham Path. The goal is to have multiple miles of mountain biking trails in these areas, but Bove said that they can be used for other activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. He also noted that having the trails open makes them more accessible in an area which he described as "land rich, access poor."
"These are multi-use trails, every one of them," Bove said. "You can enjoy the outdoors."
Bove noted that this is an environmentally friendly project because of the use of non-motorized machinery. The only trees that have been taken down have a diameter of 3-inches or less. Bove said that if a trail was built straight up a mountain, vegetation would be lost.
"Everything is hand-built, rocks are hand-crushed," Bove said. "The trails are built professionally."
The foundation has seen support from locals and from owners of second homes. Many of these homeowners are philanthropists. The Town of Windham and the Chamber of Commerce have thrown their support behind the project and other municipalities have expressed interest in the project.
Bove confirmed that Tannersville has hired the foundationís trail crew to start building some trails in town. He called it "a win-win."
"They see the potential," Bove said. "They are behind it 100 percent."
Bove said mountain biking works well in Windham because of the infrastructure of the Windham Mountain ski resort. The resort has also gotten behind the project and have invested money in mountain biking and offer visitors other activity choices including taking a "sky ride" on the resortís chairlift. Additionally, Windham Mountain has hosted an annual Pro GRT/XCT event, where professional and amateur racers compete in downhill and cross-country mountain bike races.
"Theyíre seeing their hotels get filled," Bove said.
Bove said the area can become a true four-season attraction with the new trails adding to the appeal. Homeowners, he said, could also benefit as their property values could rise high, leading to a more enhanced quality of life.
"We donít have a Lake George in our backyard," he said. "This can double our economy."
In an email sent out on behalf of Bove, comments about the project can be sent to Maxwell Wolckenhauer at the DECís Region 4 office in Stamford.
Bove said he hopes that the DEC will continue to show support and work side by side with the foundation on the project.
"It takes a village, and this village is stepping up," Bove said. "Weíre seeing the momentum go quickly."

source: Foundation seeks mountain trail expansion - Columbia-Greene Media: News