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Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways to Hold Conference

NORTHAMPTON — The Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways will host a statewide conference of community rail-trail advocates and government policymakers on Saturday, July 28 at Union Station in Northampton.

The keynote speaker will be Kurt Gaertner, director of Land Policy and Planning for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), who is responsible for statewide land-use and land-conservation policies as well as sustainable development. 

Gaertner also serves as the Massachusetts secretary of state’s designee on the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, and he represents the EEA on the Governor’s Trails Team. He is an adjunct faculty member at Boston University in its City Planning and Urban Affairs Program, where he has taught since 2009.

Gaertner will deliver the lunchtime address at the sixth Golden Spike 2018 Conference to be held over the past 16 years. Before lunch, in two separate one-hour sessions, a series of speakers will discuss updates and news along the path of the Mass Central Rail Trail from Boston to Northampton, and then from Northampton to New Haven, Conn. These talks will be highlighted by aerial maps via a live Google Maps feed. 

The event is open to residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The program begins at 8 a.m. with registration, breakfast, and networking. At 9:15 a.m., an update on the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail from Boston to Northampton will be offered, and Gaertner’s plenary session will begin at 12:30 p.m. The plenary costs $35 and includes lunch.

The goal of the conference is to update participants on new developments and the various uncompleted sections of the rail trail that stretches from New Haven to Northampton and across Massachusetts from Northampton to Boston.

As part of the conference, eight bicycle and walking tours of varying lengths, featuring topics from local history to flora and fauna along the rail trail, will be offered on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28 at 2:30 p.m. The cost is $15 per tour.

Funding for the conference was provided by a $9,460 Recreational Trail Educational grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as well as gifts from Greenfield Savings Bank and the national engineering firm VHB. To register for the conference or a tour, visit www.gs2018.org.

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