This is the time of year when the CMC is usually getting out for organized events every week. This year is different. While we wait for improvements to the current coronavirus related conditions and the accompanying cautions and restrictions, we are busy making plans to carry on with our mission now and into the future.
As our last few newsletters have noted, we are working on designing a trail at Morris Hill in Arkville and on redesigning the Shavertown Trail. We will be officially opening the new Ashokan Quarry Trail in Olivebridge with our partners the NYCDEP as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are designing a new trails brochure that will contain new maps and trail descriptions. Just recently, we made these new maps available on Avenza Maps to download to your smartphone for free. They can be printed from our website, too. And that's not all we're working on. We have several infrastructure projects, such as trail register boxes and kiosks, that are in the works to improve access to the trails, increase our capacity to understand usage and to help ensure a safe and more rewarding experience for hikers. Cumulatively, the five trails that were completed in previous years drew over 9300 hikers last year, a 30% increase over 2018. And that doesn't take into account usage at the new AQT! We know that the trails are seeing far more visitors this year than ever before. The bottom line is that our trail building partnerships with the NYCDEP and with community members has been a great success story, one that we are very proud of.
While the trails are perhaps the most visible of our projects, they are not the only ones. The Catskills Lark in the Park, Views from the Watershed, the Catskills All Trails Challenge and our work advocating for the Catskill Park and region are just as important in their own way. Our newest project, which is restoring the original fire tower to the summit of Bramley Mountain, may prove to be the most popular yet. It will certainly be the most expensive.
That's where you come in. Without your support, none of this would be possible. There are annual expenses to be met and plans to be financed. And while all of us are waiting in concerned anticipation for what is to come in the following months, we are determined to continue our work to the fullest extent possible. We know that eventually we will move past this moment in time and we know that all that has been important in the past will be important tomorrow.
We are thankful to those of you who have renewed your memberships for 2020 already. But many members have not yet renewed. We understand that priorities have been reset by the pandemic and, frankly, we have held back on making a direct appeal until now out of respect for that. But we need your continued contributions now. So please take a moment today and renew. Together we will continue to make a difference by protecting, preserving and improving the Catskills so that everyone who loves this sublime place will get the most from their recreation experiences here in America's First Wilderness.
Thank you and be safe,
PS: Join the CMC for Life and we'll send you a complimentary CMC moisture-wicking cap in addition to regular benefits. Get two caps with family memberships. At only $250 for an individual or $350 for a family membership (which includes two adult members) you can make a huge impact on our financial security and never have to remember to write another check for membership dues.