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State Parks Protects Rail Trail in Western New York

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12.1-mile Pat McGee Trail Is Part of Southern Tier Greenway Network

Connects To Finger Lakes Trail, North Country Trail, Allegany State Park

The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced the permanent protection of the 12.1-mile Pat McGee Trail in Cattaraugus County. Connecting the city of Salamanca and village of Cattaraugus, the multi-use trail along a former rail bed has connections with the current Finger Lakes Trail and the North Country Trail, which provide links to Allegany State Park in New York State and Allegany National Forest in Pennsylvania.

“This acquisition protects the Pat McGee Trail from any potential for future development, and strengthens the existing greenway network in that region,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “It guarantees continued public use of the trail and advances the goals of both the statewide Greenway Trails Plan and statewide Open Space Plan, which identified the Pat McGee Trail for public use.”

Covered under the State Environmental Protection Fund, the acquisition covers 192 acres sold by the Cattaraugus Local Development Corp., which built the trail with federal aid assistance under local government sponsorship and project administration after acquiring the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad rail bed from the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency in 2000. The Cattaraugus Local Development Corp. has operated and maintained the trail for public use since the trail’s completion.

Named for former State Sen. Pat McGee, the trail opened in 2005 and is used for bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, and horseback riding. It features a 1.8-acre community park with pavilion and two gazebos in Little Valley, along with five trailheads with parking areas. It also contains six former rail bridges that were rehabilitated for trail use.

The trail runs from the City of Salamanca line, through the Town of Salamanca; the village and town of Little Valley; and the towns of Mansfield and New Albion; ending at Leon Road just outside the Village of Cattaraugus.

State Senator George Borrello said, “The Pat McGee Trail, named in honor of late state Senator Patricia McGee, is an amazing recreational and economic resource for our region. The trail runs down the spine of Cattaraugus County, linking seven communities from the Village of Cattaraugus to the City of Salamanca. It capitalizes on the beauty of our natural resources while offering opportunities for outdoor adventure to hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and snowmobilers. This decision by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to assume ownership of the Pat McGee Trail will bring with it the resources and investment to ensure the success of the trail for generations to come.”

Assembly member Joseph Giglio said, “This is the final step in securing the future of the Pat McGee Trail and keeping it protected for all to use for generations to come.  We are grateful for the support of the organizations and volunteers involved who have maintained and kept viable this valuable and beloved recreational resource until this action.  We look forward to many more years of use as the trail receives permanent protection under the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.”

Rick LeFeberpresident of the Cattaraugus Local Development Corp, said, “Over the last two decades, hundreds of citizen-volunteers have supported the creation, building, maintenance and housekeeping of the Pat McGee Trail. It was always envisioned as a linkage to communities and the State Parks system. After a five-year effort, now that it is under State Parks’ stewardship, the trail’s legacy as a quiet economic generator for area tourism is assured for future generations to enjoy healthy recreation and the quiet delights of nature.”

The Cattaraugus Local Development Corp. is using proceeds from the sale, which is based on the property’s appraised value, to endow State Parks’ operation and maintenance of the trail, as well as to endow the Zaepfel Nature Sanctuary and Research Center in Napoli.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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