National Recreation Retailer, Health Advocates Throw Support Behind Proposed Empire State Trail
REI, American Heart Association, Healthcare Association of New York hail recreational, health and economic benefits of proposed multi-use trail
Albany, NY—March 20, 2017 — National outdoor co-op REI, the American Heart Association, and the Healthcare Association of New York together announced their support today for the Empire State Trail, a proposal in Governor Cuomo’s executive budget to complete the nation’s longest multi-use trail in the next three years. The trail will serve as a “spine” connecting multi-use trail systems across the state, from New York City to Plattsburgh and Buffalo to Albany.
“Our members across the state of New York are passionate about multi-use trails and eager to get out on this new recreational gem,” said Kurt Feilke, REI Retail Director for the northeast district. The company is the largest specialty outdoor retailer in the country. “The outdoors is a place in which we can all can come together regardless of party affiliation. We hope the governor and legislative leaders work together to begin work on the Empire State Trail in 2017,” he added.
“The Empire State Trail is a great investment in the health of all New Yorkers,” said Bob Elling, chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association. “Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans, yet 80 percent of those disease are preventable. By providing a safe and attractive place for people to bike, hike, push strollers, and engage in any kind of exercise, the state can improve the health of its residents.”
Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State said: “I’m pleased to be part of the growing coalition in support of the Empire State Trail. This trail leads through open spaces and scenic vistas to a fitter, healthier and more active New York.”
The Empire State Trail will create the nation’s premier multi-use trail – a full 750 miles of off-road trail and safe on-road connections – by finishing the Erie Canalway Trail, and connecting New York City to the North Country via the Hudson River Valley Greenway and State Bike Route 9 in the eastern Adirondacks. The initiative will secure New York’s place as a destination for outdoor recreation and heritage tourism, and contribute substantially to New York’s economy, public health, and environment.
Much of the trail is already built, and initial work will be focused on closing gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail and Hudson River Valley Greenway this year. The Erie Canalway Trail is 80 percent complete, the Hudson River Valley Greenway is 60 percent complete and the connection to Canada is 30 percent complete.
Along its extent, the new trail will connect popular state parks and historic sites such as Walkway Over the Hudson, FDR National Historic Site, Saratoga Battlefield National Historic Park, Fort Stanwix National Monument, Green Lakes State Park, and Ganondagan State Historic Site, among many others, to millions of New Yorkers and out-of-state tourists.
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