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Moriah to develop recreation trails on Cheney Mountain

MORIAH-An abandoned landfill is about to become a recreation area.

The former Moriah dump, which was closed 15 years ago, will soon have hiking and walking trails with access from a parking area on Pelfershire Road. The site includes Cheney Mountain.

"The property is about 150 acres," Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "The views from the top of the mountain are spectacular. A lot of people are walkers. We have the property; I'm pleased it will be utilized."

Plans call for volunteers to make a walking trail at the base of Cheney Mountain and, for the more ambitious, a trail to the top of the mountain.

Scozzafava stressed there will be no cost to taxpayers.

"We already own the property," he said. "This is a good re-use at no cost."

Trustees Tim Garrison and Tom Anderson have been working on the project through the Moriah Community Economic Development group. They have volunteers willing to map out the trials and clear brush.

"It's a great piece of property," Garrison said. "We'll own it forever. We might as well use it."

Because it is a former landfill, the town must retain ownership and monitor it for environmental impact. In the years since it closed, there have been no issues with the land.

The property does have vents above ground to allow methane gas from the capped landfill to escape. Scozzafava hopes to have the vents - pipes coming from below ground - decorated to blend into the surroundings.

While the property is home to the former landfill, it still has value, Scozzafava noted. About 25 years ago the town sold timber from the land. He expects the town will again someday allow selective timber harvesting, although that won't affect the plans for walking and hiking trails.

About 40 years ago the town of Moriah considered using a portion of the property on Cheney Mountain to develop a local ski area. That plan was shelved, Scozzafava said, because there is no electrical service in the area and the cost to install electricity was prohibitive.

There's still no electricity at the site, the supervisor said, but that shouldn't be an issue with the development of walking and hiking trails.

"People are excited about the idea," Scozzafava said. "We've spoken to our neighbors on both sides and they have no issues with this. This is a great asset we can develop, right in our own backyard."

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