FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What makes this section of the Auburn Trail unique?

RRMSEA has an incredible amount of biodiversity, much of which can be viewed easily along this trail section.  It is Nature Up Close – a fabulous resource for adults, children, teachers, and those with physical disabilities - on an easy, flat trail.

Who are the current users? 

Current users are nature lovers, walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and neighbors.  RRMSEA  is a favored destination for field trips for many local groups.  Recently there have been field trips for: Burroughs Audubon Nature Club, New York State Ornithological Association, Rochester Birding Association, Sierra Club, Rochester Butterfly Club, Retired Teachers Organization, and others.  Monroe Community College biology faculty use the area for professional development workshops. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT uses it for its courses. The excellent birding has attracted recent visitors from Buffalo, Syracuse, Poughkeepsie, Brooklyn, New Hampshire, and Ontario, Canada.   The overwhelming majority of  trail users want to see the area preserved, and oppose the proposed widening.  See more details here.

Victor claims there will be no significant environmental impact from the project - what is your position?

We believe the environmental impact will be substantial, and unnecessary.  Victor has done no significant field studies on site. Despite the documentation in the Position Paper of the sensitive environment and significant species, Victor does not mention RRMSEA anywhere in their Environmental Assessment Form.  The only mention of the environmental impact  is of one state threatened plant species, which  they recommend digging up and planting off the trail. 

Yet Victor's environmental consultant supports the Town's position - how do you respond?

Nearly all the environmental information about RRMSEA has been provided by volunteer local experts in ecology, birding, botany, and butterflies, many of whom have advanced degrees and work as professionals in the field. Victor’s information is from its own paid consultants – one could question their objectivity.  Its consultants, based out of the area,  have not put in significant field time to document the special nature of RRMSEA, or to search for other threatened and endangered species that could reasonably occur along the trail corridor.


Why should RRMSEA be recognized as an existing condition of the Auburn Trail Extension?

 RRMSEA has been known and used by local nature organizations, and  trail users  for decades. Even a 1975 study of Victor's natural areas recognized it as a unique natural area, with rare plants that could be threatened.  Yet Victor refuses to recognize RRMSEA on any map or in any document.  This sensitive, significant area should be explicitly acknowledged and considered  in the trail planning.


Why are you opposing the project?

The Coalition is not opposing the project, just the recommendation of excessive width of one small 3000' section.  We want to see the project be successful, as long as the special environment of RRMSEA is preserved.  To date, Victor’s proposal ignores the substantial opposition of the Coalition and others who have expressed their opinions for the past year and more, and dismisses the environmental impacts.


Why are you advocating a 3 foot width in RRMSEA?

We want the trail to be accessible for all users – the Federal Access Board recommends a 36” width as the minimum for accessibility for outdoor trails to meet the mandates of American with Disabilities Act (ADA.)


Victor states they are following the guidelines prepared by AASHTO for shared use trails.  Is that required?

There is discretion in this.  In the original grant application,  Victor stated several times that they would construct the trail according to ADA.  AASHTO was never mentioned in the grant application.  Our proposal meets ADA requirements.   ADA is the law that must be followed when federal funds are used.  AASHTO is the guidance that is typically used in projects like this,  but it is not law.  We are asking that just for this 3000' section of RRMSEA, that Victor "think differently" -  protect the environment and preserve this natural gem for future generations.

Where can I read more about your proposal? 

Please see our Position Paper.


Are you compromising?

We certainly are – the trail is currently a 1’ wide footpath – a very natural feel and setting.  Our proposal calls for widening to a 3’ wide trail – which is a loss of 20% of the linear meadow habitat.  We believe in the spirit of compromise, so the trail can be enjoyed by the greatest number of users.


We have heard the claim that a 3’ width is not safe, is it? 

We have also heard that argument, and respectfully disagree.  Transportation engineers routinely narrow roads for “traffic calming.”  The corridor is already narrow – a 3’ trail will encourage bicyclists to slow down, and give hikers and nature lovers ample space to enjoy the natural experience off the prepared path.  We also are recommending signs at each end of RRMSEA alerting users to its special environment, as well as other interpretive signs at designated spots - all designed to increase users awareness of the area - and safety.


Victor claims that the trail needs to be wide enough for 2 bicycles to pass. Does your proposal accommodate that?

On the current 1’ wide footpath, we occasionally encounter a meeting between two bicyclists, or a bicyclist and a walker.  Either the bicyclist  rides on the grassy verge, or the walker steps onto it and lets the bicyclist pass.  This has worked, safely and without problems, for years.


Will I be able to ride my bicycle from Powder Mills Park to Victor and beyond? 

Bicyclists use the current trail, and you will be able to continue to do so in our proposal.  We are only treating the short 3000’ stretch of RRMSEA differently in order to protect the unique environment. We highlight RRMSEA as a special resource which draws people to the area.  The trail will be narrower there, but certainy still rideable.


Why don’t you accept Victor’s 6’ proposal?

Victor's proposal would eliminate the linear meadow, its special bird and butterfly habitat, threaten rare plant species, and turn the area into a 6' wide stone dust roadway.  Much of what draws nature lovers to RRMSEA will be lost.  We are losing area after area to development. Our proposal is in the interests of most trail users - it preserves a unique environment for future generations, while welcoming multiple uses.


What about horses and motorized vehicles?

Victor states that horses and motorized vehicles will not be allowed.  People have expressed concerns that the wider trails may encourage these uses, and that enforcement will be impossible.  These issues have already come up on the recently completed Auburn Trail (not the Auburn Trail Extension).  There have been problems with equestrian use.  A local resident has permission to use a motorized vehicle on the trail, despite the original stated intent of no motor vehicles.  If we want to reduce the risk of horses and motorized vehicles, and preserve the sensitive, unique environment, the trail should be kept narrow.

For more information, please e-mail rrmsea@gmail.com