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Let’s get on with the corridor compromise

To the editor:

A recent correspondence with the tourism director for the town of Webb has me befuddled. I don’t know who is represented or why, but there is an obvious lack of understanding for rail trails in general and tourism, the big picture, on this corridor specifically.

As a director, he appropriately “wants everything” in the tourism basket, yet chooses to support the tourist train, limiting the corridor to that one activity at the cost of many others, and supports its expansion, which will have a negative draining effect.

Several of the largest area businesses (Big Moose Yamaha, Smith’s Marine, Mountain Man Outdoor Sports, Pedals and Petals, Big Moose Inn and Daiker’s Inn) have supported the rail trail concept over expanding the train operation. Even rail supporters cannot be confident there won’t be diminishing returns from an expanded operation.

So many “facts” are documented and accepted, only provided by the railroad, and trail comparisons do not even address snowmobiling, which may be our highest per-capita impact. Any business catering to snowmobiles in the area knows the corridor’s importance: There is NO other routing that avoids plowed roads, active logging areas and questionable water crossings, and is still one of the most consistently snow-covered trails.

Even with this disastrous winter, without rails it would be good now and would have been a consistent trail. Bicycling the corridor, whatever part is converted, will without question be very popular. While we have the TOBIE trail, Moose River Plains, many dirt roads and available snowmobile trails, none has the ease or appeal of a rail trail. Every year the Plains attracts nearly 1,000 riders over a longer, more challenging and remote route for just one event, and many more to practice!

Let’s get the trail portion of this compromise done ASAP.

I’m sure the results will be astounding!

At our hospitality business on the corridor, an estimated seven of 10 new inquiries for winter stays are no longer interested when they are told the access is by crossing Stillwater Reservoir or traversing the corridor with rails to get here.

For non-snow visits, an estimated seven of 10 will ask what we have for trails. Three of 10 would be for bicycling, and two of 10 will ask if there is the rail trail yet. In years, I only recall one call that asked if they could come by rail, and that was referring to the hi-rail truck we used to use to take the children to the school bus in Big Moose.

Scott Thompson

Norridgewock Lodge

Beaver River

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