Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today, on National Canoe Day, announced the first phase of the Suffolk County Blueway Trail Plan is now underway. The first phase will inventory the existing resources for paddlers and solicit feedback from residents to identify a list of amenities needed to improve the various launch sites. The comments and recommendations received through the survey, which will be open until July 15, will be used to help create the County’s Blueway Trail.
“Our ultimate goal is to link the Blueway Trail to our great recreational assets, such as our parks, beaches, and hike and bike trails, as well as provide opportunities to advance ecotourism and economic development within the County,” said County Executive Bellone. “Paddling is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise at the same time. The County is committed to working with residents to add to the enjoyment of the experience.”
Suffolk County Legislator Hahn, Blueway Trail Plan initiator, said: “Paddlers have long enjoyed Suffolk’s scenic waters, and we want to make it easier for residents and visitors to learn how to take advantage of the magnificent waterways we have available to us while doing it in a safe and fun way.”
As part of the first phase of the plan, the County is currently soliciting feedback from the public to help identify existing and potential launch sites throughout the over 1,000 miles of waterfront and develop a wish list to improve the sites for water access.
The Blueway Trail Plan will make non-motorized water sports, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and rowing, more accessible to residents and visitors by identifying information needed for a safe and fun paddling experience. Once priority sites have been identified, Suffolk County will work with the various municipalities to identify funding sources for specific project improvements and develop a management, communication and marketing plan.
A Blueway Trail is similar to a hiking trail, in that it provides suggested routes depending upon skill level and locations of features such as rest stops, scenic locations, bird watching and amenities such as restrooms, concessions, nearby businesses, and parking. Ideally, a Blueway Trail includes way finding signage to help paddlers find launch locations and provides information such as maps, environmental educational information, and safety information.
The Blue Way Trail Plan has been funded in part by the New York State Department of State through Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.