The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has purchased the 12.1-mile Pat McGee Trail running between Salamanca and Cattaraugus.
The multi-use trail along the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad 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,” says 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 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 Sen. George Borrello says the trail is “an amazing recreational and economic resource for our region. ... It capitalizes on the beauty of our natural resources while offering opportunities for outdoor adventure to hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and snowmobilers.”
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio says, “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.”
Rick LeFeber, president of the CLDC, says hundreds of citizen-volunteers have supported the trail effort over the past two decades.
“It was always envisioned as a linkage to communities and the State Parks system,” LeFeber says. “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 CLDC 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.