By State Sen. Patty Ritchie
Recently, Steve Cronk and ATV riders from throughout the region gathered to dedicate a new trail in Altmar that will connect Oswego County’s extensive trail system to the Oneida County’s trail system.
The dedication of the trail culminated years of efforts by Oswego County’s ATV riders who have been working to expand opportunities for riders.
It also represents another step toward my own goal of harnessing our region’s recreational resources to improve our quality of life while bringing tourists to Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties to enjoy what too many of us take for granted.
Over the past three decades, the hard working volunteers in the snowmobile and ATV movement have quietly been building a world class network of trails that could help Central and Northern New York in our efforts to become a four season destination for outdoors people from across North America.
For too long, our region’s growing ATV and snowmobile trail systems have not been treated as the major asset they really are in our efforts to bring more visitors to our stores, our restaurants and our hotels. Our tourism promotion agencies have worked hard to promote them to our visitors, but government at all levels have not done enough to work together with them and the private sector to capitalize on what we have to offer.
As someone who grew up snowmobiling and riding ATV trails with my family, I have seen just how important these trails are to businesses in many of our small towns and villages. In many rural communities, the ATV riders and snowmobilers who visit can make the difference in whether a small business succeeds or fails.
That’s why the efforts of groups like the snowmobile clubs and ATV clubs in their efforts to develop new trails and to keep existing trails open means so much to the long term revival of our region’s economy. By themselves, no one trail alone will make our efforts a success. But by working together to interconnect our trail system to allow visitors to the North Country to eventually travel through Central New York can help make our area one of the premier destinations in North America.
Each of us owes a debt of thanks to the dedicated volunteers who have worked so hard to open up these trails for the rest of us. I hope every ATV rider and snowmobiler will consider joining and supporting the clubs in their area. Only by working together can we hope to achieve the potential that every rider knows our region offers.