An additional 2.1 miles of trails have opened in Greenport as part of the Bay to Sound Integrated Trails Initiative, John Sepenoski of the town’s geographic information systems department announced at a Town Board work session Tuesday.
The route comprises a half-mile trail at Arshamomaque Preserve and the remainder is located within Pipes Cove Preserve.
Though the trails were cleared last year, Mr. Sepenoski said they weren’t opened since the property had been part of the town’s deer management program.
This spring, the project faced another setback.
“Unfortunately, in March, the trail south of Route 25 [in Greenport] was severely damaged by dirt bikes and ATVs,” Mr. Sepenoski said. “Most of the volunteer trail work this spring was getting them in walkable condition.”
Board member Louisa Evans asked what’s been done to keep ATV riders off the hiking trails.
Mr. Sepenoski said Southold police have been patrolling the area. So far warnings have been issued to four riders and one arrest has been made.
“Since then, we haven’t seen ATVs, but dirt bikes are getting in,” he said. “The police are aware of it.”
Supervisor Scott Russell noted that similar problems occur on other town preserves. “We’ve created so much open space and opened so many trails … that the enforcement component has been difficult,” he said. “We had this problem at Laurel Lake.”
Mr. Sepenoski said that as parking areas are created, the problem could be mitigated since guardrails will be put up.
Parking for the new stretch of trail is available on Chapel Lane, Route 25 and Pipes Neck Road in Greenport, he said.
The new trails will be open to hikers year round, which prompted questions from board member Jim Dinizio about how the trails will be shared with hunters.
Both hikers and hunters will be permitted to use the property, Mr. Sepenoski said, adding that previously, the area was open only to hunters because no trails existed.
“The way [Department of Public Works director Jeff Standish and environmental analyst Craig Jobes] have the zones set up, [hunters] are away from the trails enough that it’s safe,” he said.
The 2.1 miles of trail was cleared as part of Phase II of the Bay to Sound project. In the fall, Mr. Sepenoski plans to return before the board to authorize an additional 1.2 miles of new trails. Plans for Phase II of the project also call for wildlife observation blinds, boardwalks and informational kiosks to be installed along the trail.
The Bay to Sound project formally began in 2007. It proposes that a trail network linking Suffolk County land, Southold Town and Greenport Village preserves and parkland be expanded upon such that residents and visitors may use the area between the Peconic Bay waterfront and the shores of Long Island Sound.
Board member Bill Ruland praised Mr. Sepenoski’s effort to maintain and preserve the trail system.
“People have a tendency to come and use it, but never realize how it got there,” he said.
Mr. Sepenoski reported that people are already using the new trails, which are being maintained by the town’s department of public works.
He said that the last time year-round trails were opened to the public was in 2012. “This is a big positive step that we’re taking here,” he said. “We’re more than doubling the trails in this particular area of Greenport.”