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Back by popular demand .... the East Hampton Trail Maps!

from Dan's Papers January 9, 2009

Take a hike

Happy Trails (and a Plea) to You, from a Hiker, Activist

By Ken Kindler

 Ken Kindler of Hike-LI.com and LITLC

Ken Kindler, our hero Photo: Rollo Sicoco

Several readers of Dan's Papers have recently asked me how I became a natural open space and trails advocate and why I have been donating these trails articles to the publication. Here's the story.

I discovered the trails after a car accident left me with a severe back injury in the 1980s. A friend invited me to take a hike in the woods, knowing that walking on the forgiving surface of the earth would help me to heal. Since then, I've been walking an average of 100 miles a week.

After a while, I realized that just because a place was untouched and beautiful, it didn't mean that it was safe from development or that it would be properly taken care of. To help protect the places I loved, I started attending all the trails groups meetings and later, many land management meetings. I became a board member of both the Greenbelt Trail Conference and Southampton Trails Preservation Society. In addition to serving on these boards, I am an active member of The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. I have been advocating for the protection and care of our trails at Town, County and Central Pine Barrens Commission meetings for many years.

A couple of years ago, I introduced a proposal, in cooperation with the Commission's Protected Land Council, for addressing the illegal use of off-road vehicles on public lands. This procedure is now being implemented by New York State. I have been interviewed numerous times on TV, radio and in the newspapers as a trails advocate. I edited the 2001 edition of Short Nature Walks on Long Island by Rodney and Priscilla Albright. Since 2003, I have been writing about my weekly trails excursions in the "Take a Hike" column in Dan's Papers.

I've written grants for trails groups, facilitated joint trails events, and worked with the Boy Scouts and school groups on the trails. I have been very active in the Paumanok Path initiative and facilitated the first Paumanok Path Summit in 2003.

In 1996, I created the Hiking Long Island web site to disseminate information about hiking and environmental issues, to encourage more people to join the trails groups, and to help the various groups work together by giving them a central meeting place on the web. My goal has always been to encourage more people to work for trails maintenance and care and to increase public awareness in order to get the needed funding for trail stewardship.

Now I have formed the Long Island Trail Lovers Coalition, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The focus of LITLC is trails stewardship, not trails appreciation. Without stewardship, there will be no trails to appreciate.

LITLC is not a hiking group. It's a trails stewardship group started with the help of several truly remarkable individuals. We are working to develop the substantial manpower and funding needed to address the challenges threatening our trails. LITLC will supply trained workers to assist in trail building. Our goal is to assure that the trails are well maintained, protected, safe, accessible and user-friendly.

When I started LITLC, I was already getting a lot of visitors to hike-li.org. Thousands of people were already accessing the Web site for hike schedules and other trails information. Organizations, agencies and trails groups benefit from the exposure I give them on the Web sites and in the articles I write for Dan's Papers. All will also benefit when LITLC has enough funding to do the work that needs to be done. We all need to work together. When people talk to me about the amenities they wish to see for the trails, I tell them that as soon as LITLC has enough financial support, we will make those wishes a reality. Join us in helping the trails.

Now it's even easier to donate for trails stewardship! Go to www.litlc.org and click on "Donate." Enter your credit card information and make an online donation for the trails.

Your one small contribution will make a big difference. When many members join together, they make a strong statement about the importance of trails.

Long ago the trails gave me my life back, now I'm working to return the favor.

Please join with the members of LITLC in this effort; make a donation to The Long Island Trails Coalition today! Thank you!


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Ken Kindler
Open Space & Trails Advocate

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