By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG – Winter’s last gasp today may still keep some people off the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, but it likely will be a different story next year as the nine-mile trail’s governing group considers winter maintenance for the future, officials said.
Some people have complained the two-year-old trail, popular in temperate times, was inaccessible and unusable over the harsh winter, in some places buried under at least a foot of snow that was not removed.
Keeping the trail natural, however, was the governing committee’s decision, said Katie Davis, executive director of the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority.
“We thought very hard about this and decided to leave the trail in a natural state,” she said, noting that for all who complained there were as many who liked having the snow for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and just running with their dogs. “Leave nothing, take nothing.”
One man from Mifflinburg even volunteered to plow the trail near there, but Davis said liability concerns prevented that from happening. “We cannot allow anyone with heavy equipment onto the trail,” she said. Also, at Mifflinburg and heading east, the trail is gravel based, not paved, and plowing it would damage the base, she said.
Aside from the rec authority not having the needed equipment itself, jurisdiction also plays a role, Davis said. The trail runs through Mifflinburg borough and East Buffalo Township, the latter of which Davis believes has the needed equipment and is willing to help.
But with the trail now extending into Lewisburg borough, a plan to remove snow and ice and keep the trail open to everyone is more likely, Davis said, especially as more people use the trail as a commuting route to work. She did not know a cost estimate for snow removal.
One idea is to plow half the trail to keep snow on for those who like it and use it, she said.
“We’re just glad everyone likes the trail so much and wants to use it,” she said, but noted there have been prohibited vehicles on it as well — namely horse-and-buggy hookups. Also prohibited are motorized vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.
Davis encourages the public to report violations to police.