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Concern over access to land cause delays in hiking trails project
TWILLINGATE ISLAND, N.L. — Due to a dispute with an area land owner, the Town of Crow Head has withdrawn from the partnership to improve and combine the hiking trails of Twillingate Island.
However, the assessment of the trails will still continue, now only between the Town of Twillingate and the Twillingate Islands Tourism Association (TITA).
The decision was made after the land owner in question, Dean Rhoads, contacted the Town of Twillingate and Lewisporte-Twillingate MHA Derek Bennett, with concerns that the hiking trails on his property not be included in this new partnership and assessment.
“The Town of Crow Head removed itself from the partnership because of this dispute,” said Crow Head’s Deputy Mayor Dave Dove. “The assessment will still go ahead, but any trails on Twillingate Island that Rhoads claims to own will now not be included in the assessment."
Rhoads claims ownership of several areas around Crow Head, including the popular hiking trails of Sleepy Cove and surrounding area. He says he believes strongly in improving the hiking trails of Twillingate Island, but is interested in separating work on these Crow Head trails from the assessment now underway by the regional committee.
“Since the 2000s there have been several different committees dealing with trying to improve the trails,” said Rhoads. “Some did build and repair trails, but sometimes the end product didn’t turn out very well. We’ve had structures that were unsafe and so forth.
“We have in our own assessment determined all the things we have to do to bring the trails back to respectability."
The Twillingate Regional Trails Committee was formed in late August of this year, made up of TITA and the Towns of Crow Head and Twillingate. Initially, the plan was to assess 46 kilometres of hiking trails on Twillingate Island, and determine from there what work needed to be done to connect these trails and bring them up to standard.
On Oct. 25, TITA announced that the company Green Leaf Resources is undertaking the trail assessment, which began on Oct. 31.
TITA President Mandi Young says the assessment will take around two weeks and will include drone footage, GPS coordinates for existing trails, construction and marketing plans, as well as proposals for new trails to connect Twillingate’s trails into a single network.
“There may be options to revert the trails so that they don’t infringe on private land. But in the interest of time it was decided to move forward on the assessment without these trails, so that work can begin on the trails as early as spring next year.”
-Lewisporte-Twillingate MHA Derek Bennett
From this information, Young says the committee will apply for additional funding in the spring.
According to Twillingate town manager Marie Magnin, there is still an opportunity for the Crow Head trails to become a part of this network in the future.
But in terms of connecting with other Twillingate Island trails, Rhoads says the distance from the trails on his property to these other trails could make this potentially difficult.
“The problem is the closest trail we have from Twillingate is a good mile away,” said Rhoads. “What we would want to do is to encourage anyone who uses our trails to use the other trails."
Bennett is now working with TITA and Crown Lands to determine if some of the hiking trails infringe on any private land claims in the Crow Head area. He says in order to grant a License to Operate (LTO) on a trail that intersects or crosses over on private property, a written agreement between the landowner and Crown Lands must first be issued.
“There may be options to revert the trails so that they don’t infringe on private land,” said Bennett. “But in the interest of time it was decided to move forward on the assessment without these trails, so that work can begin on the trails as early as spring next year.”
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