Conococheague could become a water trail

PAT FRIDGEN
The Conococheague Creek offers wildlife and recreation. Local officials are exploring the possibility of creating a water trail.

The possibility of a Conococheague Creek Water Trail running through Antrim Township was the topic of a workshop June 2 between members of the township Park Committee and citizens. Approximately 20 residents discussed the pros and cons with moderator Sherry Peck, Community Planner with the Philadelphia office of the National Park Service.

The committee formulated the idea and sought the first round of public input. Cheryl Shields, Nate Bacon, Mark Goldbach and Jon Snavely explained some of the benefits of having the 21-miles of the creek in Antrim designated a water trail.

A trail provided opportunities for non-motorized boating, wildlife and diverse landscape viewing, time for solitude, a tourist draw and was an outlet for healthy activities.

The visitors agreed, but also had some concerns. They mentioned the impact on duck nesting, trespassing, vandalism, pollution and maintenance.

Peck countered the fears about people causing problems along the waterway. "Studies have shown the more regular the use, the less crime because there are eyes."

Lynda Beckwith, Antrim liaison, informed the crowd, mostly landowners along the creek, that the park committee was looking for people to voluntarily provide access points, but no one could or would be forced to. Owners would retain full property rights.

The committee was identifying safety issues, such as bridge abutments or logjams, and logical sites to enter and exit the water.  While a launch every 10 miles was recommended by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Goldbach hoped for every five.

The public comment period runs until Aug. 2. Once the statements are reviewed, the park committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. If a water trail is approved, the committee will draft a water trail map and seek grants for the management plan. Snavely doubted expenditures would be noticeable at the local level, as the trail would only require maps, signs, and gravel at access points.

All area residents are invited to complete the public comment form posted on the township Web site www.twp.antrim.pa.us

Sherry Peck from the National Park Service visited Antrim Township to promote a designated water trail along the Conococheague Creek.