A multi-use trail going through Queens County is getting closer to reality now that the Queens ATV Association has access to some former Bowater lands.
"It's a good thing for us and a good thing for the county," says Jeff Enslow, president of the Queens ATV Association.
There are two groups working together on the trail project. Rails to Trails looks after the rail bed sections of the trail, while the ATV Association is working on the rest.
The goal is to link the two existing sections, one from the Lunenburg County line to Brooklyn and the other from Port Mouton to Shelburne County, to make one continuous trail through the county.
In 2012, the province purchased all of the land owned by Resolute Forest Products in Nova Scotia, as well as the former mill site and the Brooklyn Energy power plant.
For the past six months, the group has been working with Tim Crowe, site coordinator with Nova Scotia Lands, to get use of a section of those lands that will get them across Highway 103 and around Liverpool and Milton.
The section they now have permission to use is a 2.6 kilometre stretch going behind Brooklyn Energy up to the Herring Cove Lake area.
The trail section starts where the rail bed meets up with Brooklyn Energy, going behind the property and going through a tunnel under Highway 103 via Nickerson Pond Pipeline Road. This was an important factor for getting use of this section, says Enslow, because the only legal way an ATV can cross a highway is underneath it.
To help fund the costs of building the trail, the Association has a grant of $46,000 from the provincial Off-Highway Vehicle trails fund. They are also hoping to get that matched by the federal National Trails Recreation Trails Program, announced at the beginning of July.
"Our goal is to raise about $100,000," says Enslow.
The money will be used to cut out the trail and re-deck on of the bridges along the way. It's going to take many hands to get it done, he says.
"It involves a lot of volunteer work."
With this piece in place, Enslow says the next step is negotiating with the Department of Natural Resources to get permission to use the former Bowater woodlands. He expects that process will take about six months to a year to complete. Once finished however, building the trails through those lands will be a little easier than it current section.
"Most of those are former logging roads, so most of the development is done. It's just a matter of connecting it all together," says Enslow.
One of the biggest challenges for the group has been crossing the Mersey River. The Association tried for many years to get access to the Trestle Trail Bridge, but last year the Region of Queens Municipal Council rejected the idea.
The former Bowater lands solves this issue, as the path crosses an old logging bridge at a narrow point in the river.
Enslow says they are still looking for volunteers to help out in constructing the trail.
"We are encouraging people to come out and get involved," says Enslow. "We want to get as many people as we can involved with this project."
The Association's next meeting is the first Monday in September at the Ground Search and Rescue hall in Liverpool
Other updates can be found on the group's website at www.qcatv.org