North Quabbin Trails Association takes stewardship of Tully Trail in Orange

  • The North Quabbin Trails Association, and husband and wife Ben and Susie Feldman, were given the Innovation Award by the Greater Athol Area Advocates for Families with Special Needs in recognition of the trails association’s “longtime dedication to developing solutions to community concerns in partnership with others in the North Quabbin area.” The award will be displayed at the Feldmans’ Cutthroat Brook Tree Farm in Athol, next to an enlarged and redesigned trail map. Contributed Photo

  • North Quabbin Trails Association President Bobby Curley, at right, and Joe Rogers, Connecticut Valley district supervisor with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, sign the stewardship agreement for the Tully Trail on June 2. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 6/15/2021 4:25:05 PM
Modified: 6/15/2021 4:25:09 PM

ORANGE — After five years of ongoing negotiations, the North Quabbin Trails Association and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife have signed a license agreement for full stewardship of the Tully Trail.

Previously maintained by The Trustees of Reservations, the Tully Trail is a 22-mile loop trail that encircles the largely undeveloped Tully Valley in the North Quabbin region. From the summit of Tully Mountain to the cascading waters of Doane’s Falls, the trail connects some of the region’s most scenic views.

North Quabbin Trails Association President Bobby Curley and Joe Rogers, Connecticut Valley district supervisor with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, signed the license agreement earlier this month. Curley said the process was conducted alongside state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife workers led by Rogers and wildlife biologist Jennifer Jones.

In a June 2 email, Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon congratulated Curley and Rogers, as well as their respective teams, on the completion of the Tully Trail license agreement.

“The process was long, complex and at times cumbersome due to the many details needing to be addressed in order to ensure we had a document that worked out best for all parties, and most importantly for the benefit of our wildlife and the habitat they call home,” Amidon wrote.

The agreement will see the North Quabbin Trails Association — a nonprofit founded in 2012 that aims to sustain outdoor trail development and conduct trail improvements — lead preservation efforts for “this community cherished asset” that is the 22-mile Tully Trail, Curley said. The efforts of the North Quabbin Trails Association, as a stewardship contractor, will run parallel with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s mission to preserve area wildlife and natural habitat, Curley said.

Curley said he, Rogers and Jones will attend the Orange Conservation Commission’s June 17 meeting to discuss the agreement and answer any questions from the public.

As part of its stewardship, Curley said one of the North Quabbin Trails Association’s first goals is to relocate a 2-mile “road walk” section of the Tully Trail with a new trail. This road walk section begins on Butterworth Road before turning south onto the busy Tully Road. Curley said hikers are often forced to walk along a narrow shoulder on the side of a road that runs along a “dangerous gorge section” as vehicles pass with little room.

“This miserable and dangerous road walk is the very reason I undertook this journey of Tully Trail relocation and stewardship leadership,” he said. “I’ve never seen a road walk like this. When I first saw it, I was aghast. Logging trucks will come through at 50 mph, and you’re pressed against a granite wall because you have to walk through this S-shaped gorge.”

According to Curley, the North Quabbin Trails Association has applied for a grant for up to $15,000 to assist in this “rather massive” undertaking of the Tully Trail stewardship. He said the association should know in the coming weeks whether it receives the grant.

In addition to securing the Tully Trail license agreement, the North Quabbin Trails Association, and husband and wife Ben and Susie Feldman, were given the Innovation Award by the Greater Athol Area Advocates for Families with Special Needs in recognition of the trails association’s “longtime dedication to developing solutions to community concerns in partnership with others in the North Quabbin area.” Curley said the award will be displayed at the Feldmans’ Cutthroat Brook Tree Farm in Athol, next to an enlarged and redesigned trail map.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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