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Should horses be allowed on the Tweetsie Trail?

Johnson City Press • Jul 15, 2014 at 10:59 AM

As Press staff writer Tony Casey reported recently, officials have decided to ban horseback riding on the Tweetsie Trail — at least for the time being. Members of the task force overseeing the rails-to-trails project voted to keep horses off the newly surfaced trail until it’s determined how well the trail settles in with weather and traffic.

“Let’s get the trail open, then look at it,” Dr. Dan Schumaier, the chairman of the task force, told his colleagues earlier this month.

Schumaier said it might be six months before the group re-examines the horse issue. The top priority of the task force is to get the trail ready for its Labor Day kickoff date, he said, while achieving that goal as safely as possible.

Their impact on safety is one of the is one the concerns of having horses on the trail, Schumaier said. He told task force members he was a horse owner of 26 years and would be hesitant to ride his horses over some of the seven bridges along the trail, which extends from Alabama Street in Johnson City to Elizabethton.

Allowing horses on the trail has been a point of contention since the trail began to take shape. Some think horseback riding should be allowed on the trail. Others, however, think the presence of horses on the trail would pose a safety hazard problems for runners, walkers and bicyclists. Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola, whose crews are helping to create the trail, said horse hoofs could do much damage to the surface of the trail.

He said he has seen parts of the Tweetsie literally crumble from horse traffic in just the first few weeks after being covered with chat.

“That is very disrespectful,” Pindzola said. We want to hear from you. Should horses be allowed on the Tweetsie Trail?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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