(Photos courtesy of NYSDEC)

Project improves safety and access for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and other activities and protects water quality during extreme weather events

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced Sept. 17, 2020, the completion of a three-year project to reconstruct 36 bridge crossings along the Brookfield Trail System in the towns of Hamilton and Brookfield in Madison County.

The popular recreation trails provide more than 100 miles of opportunity for hikers, equestrians, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“Today we welcome visitors new to the trails and long-time outdoor adventurers who have frequented the Brookfield Trail System for decades to join us in celebrating completion of this visionary project,” Seggos said. “DEC designed and constructed these new bridges to protect public safety and provide convenient access for trail users, as well as to help protect the trails and surrounding resources from future extreme weather events and flooding.”

The three-year, $250,000 bridge replacement project was funded through NY Works as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Adventure NY initiative. DEC designed the new crossings for enhanced safety, longevity and protection of water quality; all construction was completed by DEC Operations staff.

Wooden boardwalks and bridges were replaced after age-related deterioration and flood damage made these structures unsafe. Many of these structures were upgraded to appropriate-sized culverts with earthen crossings to blend with the surroundings and improve natural stream flow even during high-water events, including two protected trout streams.

The 100-mile Brookfield Trail System traverses Charles E. BakerBrookfield Railroad and Beaver Creek state forests in southeastern Madison County and is open free of charge for hiking, horse riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking.

Seasonal restrictions are in place for horse riding and mountain biking on the trail system.

Other common activities available in the three state forests include fishing, hunting, trapping and camping. Campsites are available at Moscow Hill Assembly Area and Cherry Ridge Camping Area in Charles E. Baker State Forest. Several trails in Charles E. Baker and Brookfield Railroad are open for ATV use by permit only for people with mobility impairments.

“More than ever, New Yorkers are taking the time to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us,” said Senator Rachel May. “These upgrades to the Brookfield Trail System will help ensure that neighbors and visitors are able to explore some of our region’s nicest trails for years to come. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for making these upgrades possible. I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy them.”

“As the former supervisor of the town of Brookfield where this wonderful trail system is located, I am excited to see these improvements being made to a great asset that is enjoyed by so many,” said Assemblyman John Salka of Brookfield. “I want to thank the DEC for their efforts to improve this trail system. In times like these, it is more important than ever that people can get out and utilize this incredible outdoor venue.”

During the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, New Yorkers across the state want and need to get outside for a nature break, which is good for physical and mental health. Before visiting the Brookfield Trail System, take the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL pledge, and promise to use common sense to protect yourself and others when enjoying the outdoors. Play Smart encourages New Yorkers to recreate safely, responsibly and locally this summer and to always treat fellow outdoor adventurers with respect.

Under Cuomo’s Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active, outdoor recreation; connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors; protect natural resources and boost local economies. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative.

By martha

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