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TILT gets $110K to build Otter Creek nature trail

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — The Thousand Islands Land Trust has been awarded a $110,774 grant through the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to build a nature trail on an important wildlife habitat located just south of the village.

Jake R. Tibbles, the Clayton-based land trust’s executive director, said TILT will design the Otter Creek Preserve Nature Trail based on community input and break ground on the construction as soon as this spring.

The state grant requires the land trust to wrap up the project within two years.

While details need to be worked out, the general plan calls for a 1.5-mile scenic trail weaving through the Otter Creek Wetland Preserve that can be used year-round for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.

It will be a non-motorized trail for the most part, but snowmobiling will be allowed in areas of the preserve that are currently used for that purpose.

Mr. Tibbles said the land trust will be gathering feedback from the general public, local community groups, Boy and Girl Scout clubs and businesses to come up with a design that would allow TILT to not only protect the preserve as a sanctuary for wildlife and use the trail for educational purposes, but also promote eco-tourism in the region.

Along the scenic route will be interpretive signs, picnic tables, a parking lot and a kiosk, he said.

The 30-acre preserve nearly quadrupled in size with TILT’s recent acquisition of 78 acres of land formerly owned by Brent H. Sweet, Alexandria Bay.

TILT secured a $75,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to help pay for the acquisition of the Sweet property behind Big M along Route 26. The land trust additionally secured a $20,000 state Conservation Partnership Program grant through the Land Trust Alliance to cover transaction costs.

Mr. Tibbles said a community workshop to discuss the project will be held in early 2013.

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