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Central Otago Mayor Malcolm Macpherson told those gathered for the ‘‘opening'' of newly-developed areas of the trail at Alexandra on Sunday the trail was one of the ‘‘premier outdoor recreation experiences'' in the country.
The rail trail trust was the Central Otago winner of the TrustPower community awards. The national final of the contest was held in Wanaka on Saturday.
‘‘While we didn't win [overall], we were very close,'' Dr Macpherson said.
‘‘We deserve to have people know that this is a great asset.''
The 150km trail, from Clyde to Middlemarch, follows the path of the former railway line and is popular with walkers and cyclists.
Small groups had ‘‘adopted'' sections of the trail and volunteers had worked to beautify those sections, adding value to the rail trail experience and making it a gold-plated asset, he said.
Keep Alexandra Clyde Beautiful (KACB), the Alexandra Community Board and Doc joined forces to landscape the section around the intersection of Ngapara and Tarbert Sts - the site of the former Alexandra railway station - and a stretch of the trail on Dunstan Rd, through to the Molyneux netball courts.
KACB president Maureen Davies thanked all those involved in developing the site and said it had been a busy two years working on the project.
After concerns raised by the public about the nuisance caused by leaves falling from black poplars lining the trail on Dunstan Rd, the trees were felled and replaced with more suitable species.
The project to beautify the trail was still very much a work in progress, she said.
Doc Central Otago manager Mike Tubbs said he appreciated the contribution made by volunteers.
Jolyon Manning, of Alexandra, said he had been a tree grower for 48 years and was concerned by the lack of shade along the rail trail.
He donated 12 sachets of Turkey oak and nut pine seed to the groups, with instructions about how to grow the trees.
Examples of nut pines could be seen at the Clyde cemetery
‘‘More serious attention needs to be given to shade, so I hope that these seeds will help,'' Mr Manning said.