Saturday, July 30, 2011

From East Hill Campus to the Appalachian Trail

The sun shines through the evergreens near the East Hill Campus easement to the Bristol Hills branch of the Finger Lakes Trail.

The FLCC Foundation has donated an easement at East Hill Campus in Naples to the Finger Lakes Trail, along with owners of neighboring properties David and Amy Vangellow and Theresa Brayman.

John Van Niel, director of the East Hill Campus, and Amy Pauley, executive director of the FLCC Foundation, helped facilitate the three easements, which ensure a permanent link from the Bristol Hills branch of the Finger Lakes Trail to the main trail.

The main trail runs 558 miles from the New York – Pennsylvania border in Allegany State Park to the Catskills. In addition, there are 400 miles of branch, loop and spur trails along the way; these include the Bristol Hills branch.

“This easement allows us to be part of a larger system of trails and public land. Having permanent access to High Tor Wildlife Management Area ensures that our students will be able to hike directly from the East Hill Campus to thousands of acres of state land to learn about natural history, geology and wildlife management in the Finger Lakes,” Van Niel said.

“For the general public, this is one more important recreational opportunity for anyone wishing to hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski. One could literally start at our East Hill Campus and hike to the Appalachian Trail,” he added.

The trail system is maintained by 15 organizations and approximately 60 individual and family trail sponsors. All are volunteers, except for personnel of the state Department of Environmental Conservation operations crew, which maintain the trail in the Catskills.

“We thank all these landowners for their generosity and for providing a legacy where the public can get out and enjoy nature on their beautiful properties,” Ron Navik, a volunteer for the Finger Lakes Trail wrote in an organization newsletter.

The 30.5-acre East Hill Campus was donated to the FLCC Foundation by longtime volunteer firefighter and conservationist George K. Fraley in June 2010. The College will use it for wildland fire suppression classes and training, conservation and camping classes, and retreats and workshops.

To learn more about the Finger Lakes Trail, click here.

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