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Letters to the Editor - Millerton News - 8-8-19

Appreciated the coverage

This is long overdue!

Thank you, editor Whitney Joseph, for your editorial, “Making the most of our natural assets,” and reporter Kaitlin Lyle’s  article on the Harlem Valley Chamber of Commerce presentation, “Tourism talk accentuates growing opportunities,” in the May 30 issue of The Millerton News.

“Tourism in the Harlem Valley,” an evening organized by Deanna Mancuso, president of Harlem Valley Chamber of Commerce, gave us an opportunity to present the Appalachian Trail Conservancy-branded “geotourism” project. 

The evening’s line up featured County Executive Marc Molinaro; Mary Kay Vrba, president, Dutchess Tourism; and Jen Fimbel, AgNavigator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County. ATC’s land-based, place-based initiative is intended to increase economic development and conservation throughout, and is expected to be additive to the tourism industry in all of Dutchess County.

In eastern Dutchess, we have a unique geography that offers experiences in almost every natural setting one could wish for. Dutchess Tourism (DTI) research shows that “Nature/Beautiful Scenery” is the second most popular choice under “Destination Selection Attributes.”  Within the town of Dover alone are four publicly accessible, outdoor recreation resources offering immersive experiences that are both intimate and expansive: the Dover Stone Church Preserve, closely associated with the Schaghitoke First Nations indigenous peoples; the Great Swamp; the Ten Mile River and the Appalachian Trail (AT). 

Add the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, and you’ve got a fifth option through which to appreciate the beauty of the Harlem Valley. All are accessible by train. Of the four “Nature/Beautiful Scenery” options in eastern Dutchess listed in the most recent DTI Visitor Survey, the AT was the most widely recognized. For this reason, we expect the ATC/Harlem Valley travel site to increase the number of visitors to eastern Dutchess, and disperse them across our place-based travel destination.

ATC’s campaign Wild East encourages community engagement through experience. Wild East features the landscape of the Appalachian Mountains that defines the AT corridor, the longest contiguous open space on the east coast. It emphasizes the value of the corridor to bird migration, climate change, biodiversity and forested uplands. 

The trail is within a day’s drive of over 55% of the population. Imagine the increase in conservation efforts and sustainable economic development as more visitors experience this landscape and visit the rural towns within it? 

The Harlem Valley is part of this 14-state, 2,190-mile-long landscape. Thanks to the support of our growing stakeholder base — the county and its agencies, Dutchess Tourism, local businesses (includes farms), conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts, we were the first to pilot the ATC geotourism platform.

Defining our sense of place as they do, the forested ridges and watersheds provide cleaner air and water for our rural residents and businesses. They will continue to do so if recognized for their contribution to the growing outdoor recreation economy in the Harlem Valley. 

Thank you for recognizing this.

Stancy DuHamel

Co-chair

Harlem Valley 

Appalachian Trail Community

Wingdale