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Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail Welcomes New Board President


Deb Fenn turns over rail trail Board leadership to Mary Brummer
in 2023 after years of progress.


Deb Fenn, one of the founding ECRT Board members, stepped down as Board President at the end of 2022, a role she has held since 2016.

Ms. Fenn will continue to manage government relations and community engagement for the organization.

On January 1, 2023, Orchard Park Village resident, Mary Brummer, became the new ECRT Board President. Brummer joined the ECRT Board in 2018, shortly after she retired as a small animal veterinarian at the Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center. She previously served as ECRT Secretary and Governance chair.

In her new role, Brummer’s first priority is to build funding and team capacity to ensure that ECRT can continue to improve and open more miles of trail.

History of Progress

In the 15 years since ECRT was incorporated, the organization has made tremendous progress. In 2018, ECRT, Inc. signed a long-term, federal railbanking lease with the Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad to build and manage the trail. Since that time, ECRT has secured grants and public support to open 10+ miles of natural surface trail.

During Fenn’s tenure, the ECRT Board:

  • Expanded the Board of Directors to include strong leadership in design and construction, development, communications, maintenance and legal expertise

  • Launched ECRT Friends groups in Orchard Park, West Falls/Colden, and Springville/Concord along with an extensive trail support network with 4,500 members and nearly 600 volunteers

  • Gained support from national and regional trail organizations, and support from all levels of government for trail development, including resolutions of support from the Town of Aurora and from adjacent towns for major projects

  • Hosted trail events, including National Trail Day observances, winter walks and clean up events, and the highly successful EA2EVL 42-mile charity bike ride from East Aurora to Ellicottville held in 2021 and 2022, raising $100k in donations.

Looking to the future

In 2022, Brummer led the Board’s effort to upgrade and launch a new 3-year strategic plan for ECRT, which includes many critical projects and priorities that the Board will work to implement in the future." 

“It became clear during the pandemic just how important trails are to our communities, especially here in the southtowns where we have limited access,” Brummer explained. “Under Deb’s leadership, ECRT ga
ined great momentum and made enormous strides. I’m excited to build on that momentum, to weave in local community flair and flavor, and to deepen our relationship with our Friends and supporters.

"It has been a privilege and an honor to build and serve this dedicated volunteer organization,” said Fenn. “I’m incredibly proud of the amazing progress we’ve made, especially in the last 5 years, and I know Mary is the very best leader to take this trail and team into the future."

Become a Trail Expert

  • What sections are open today?

  • What types of activities does the trail accommodate?

  • Who owns the trail? Has it been abandoned?

  • What does railbanking mean?

  • Who has jurisdiction over the trail?

  • What is the best way to build the trail?

  • Who is responsible if someone is injured on the trail? Are adjacent landowners responsible?

  • Has there been recent progress on trail design?

  • What next for the trail in 2023?

Volunteer Spotlight: Harry James


Volunteer Spotlight: Harry James


Over the past year or more, Harry James has played an integral role in ECRT’s successful bridge redecking and restoration efforts in the Town of Concord. He was named, he tells me, after his father, Harry James, and not in homage to the famous jazz trumpeter and big band leader, Harry James. Both Harrys, however -- ours and the jazz legend -- share a common key to their shared success on the job: They can improvise!  

According to ECRT Board member Kathleen McCrone, his improvisational skills and talent as an on-the-spot problem-solver came in handy more than once when critical adjustments in materials and measurements were needed to resolve unforeseen construction problems. “It was amazing watching Harry tackle a problem. First, his eyes would light up, he’d take a step or two back and we could almost see the gears turning in his brain. After a few moments of contemplation, he’d grab some tools, lumber, and a few volunteers and confidently get busy creating a perfect solution.”

Read the entire article.

Explore the Trail:

Explore the future Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail!

Become a Member:

​Love the outdoors? Consider joining us. Your support helps our ongoing efforts to preserve the former rail corridor with the intent to develop it into a multi-use recreational trail. It also demonstrates community support to our local and state officials. All members will receive our newsletter as well as exclusive invitations to ECRT events. When you register, you'll also have the opportunity to indicate if you would like to further assist us by volunteering.

Learn More About ECRT:

Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and trail manager for the railbanked portion of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Railway in Western NY. Over twenty-seven miles long, this railroad right-of-way connects the communities of Orchard Park, Aurora, West Falls, Colden, East Concord, Springville and West Valley, New York.

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