By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
DANVILLE – With an agreement approved, construction has begun on the North Branch Canal Trail, according to Montour Area Recreation Commission Director Bob Stoudt.
“It is my great honor to report that the North Branch Canal Trail agreement of transfer of property and lease agreement has been approved and signed by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, Montour Area Recreation Commission, Montour County and Columbia County. As a result, MARC’s staff and volunteers may immediately begin trail clearing and construction along the 6.2 mile corridor between Danville and Catawissa. Though the trail will not be open to the public until such time as the land subdivision and transfer process is complete, hopefully early next year, this is a day that many people have been working toward for more than ten years and I would again like to thank everyone who helped make this day possible. Santa will have a very tough time delivering something better than this,” Stoudt said.
Per the terms of the agreement and related permitting, MARC staff and volunteers may immediately begin trail clearing and construction, so long as we do not advertise the trail as open to the public and do not permit public use of the land until the lands have been legally transferred to Montour and Columbia Counties. Per the terms of the permit, Stoudt notified the Montour County Conservation District, Columbia County Conservation District and state Department of Environmental Protection of their intention to proceed.
Stoudt began clearing brush Saturday along the trail corridor beginning at the River Road access point in Mahoning Township and continuing toward the Catawissa Boat Club.
He will regularly schedule work days through the next two to three months as needed to complete the brush clearing work. “Ideally, if sufficient numbers of volunteers come forward, we will work from both ends of the trail toward the middle. We will begin earth moving and culvert installation later this winter as conditions and funding allow. It is my goal to have a passable trail open to the public by late spring or early summer 2014,” he said.