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Blockhouse Farm | Willsboro Column

Congratulations once again to Champlain Area Trails (CATS) on a successful variety of activities marking National Trails Day last Saturday. About 170 people turned out in beautiful warm sunny weather for the Celebrate CATS Event at Blockhouse Farm in Essex in the afternoon and early evening, with 35 hikers (about 20 of them children, including a group of Girl Scouts) taking part in the morning hike at the Cheney Mtn. Trail south of Westport and 18 hikers joining the first public hike at the new Ancient Oaks Trail between Essex and Willsboro in the early afternoon.

In his comments at Blockhouse Farm, CATS executive director Chris Maron highlighted the leading role that promoting local businesses plays in the CATS vision of a prosperous, sustainable future for the Champlain Valley. “The more businesses, the better it is for hikers,” he explained to me later. “And the more hikers, the better it is for businesses.” Chris also expressed his gratitude to the 26 local businesses that sponsored the event (I wish I had space here to mention them all by name). The similarly successful Grand Inn-to-Inn Hike from the Westport Hotel to the Essex Inn last month, when many of the 200 hikers came from areas as far away as Long Island and Montreal just for the event, was sponsored heavily by local businesses as well. This is a dynamic relationship that can only be a win-win for everyone.

The main speaker at Blockhouse Farm was Emily Boedecker of Local Motion, a Vermont biking and hiking trails organization out of Burlington. Check out their web site, www.localmotion.org for more information, including maps of their bike trails. For example, they run a bike ferry from Colchester to South Hero Island that just got onto my summer agenda.

Speaking of summer agendas, younger boaters won’t want to miss the two-part Safe Boating Course coming up at the Westport Marina on Monday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 2 from 5 to 9 p.m. If your birthday is after May 1, 1996 you need the certificate this course offers in order to legally operate a motorboat in NY. Register by June 25 by emailing the Youth Commission, which is sponsoring the course, at westportyouthprogram@gmail.com. Payment of $20 per person or $30 for a youth/adult pair can be made at the first class.

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