$2.1M in federal funds will enhance N.J. trails

Date Published: 
Thu, 12/20/2007

More than $2.1 million in federal grant money

has been earmarked for maintaining and improving recreational trails throughout New Jersey.

Approximately $1.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program has already been approved for 48 trail projects. Two local organizations are among the recipients of the federal grants, according to a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) press release.

The Millstone Trailblazers, a private group of citizens whose mission is to foster a horse-friendly environment in Millstone Township, received a $25,000 grant for connector trails. The group works with local governments to identify and establish trails for an interconnecting trail system for various recreational purposes.

The Horse Park of New Jersey, which is a public and private partnership that operates the 147-acre world-class equine exhibition facility in Upper Freehold, also received a $25,000 for aid with Assunpink Trail Restoration. The Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, which is a wildlife refuge of more than 5,700 acres in western Monmouth County, has a system of field trails and borders the horse park.

DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said in the press release that with these federal funds, great trails throughout New Jersey will be even better.

""Recreational trails enhance our environment, economy and quality of life while offering health and fitness opportunities, outdoor classrooms for nature study, greenways for wildlife conservation and links with our historic past," she said.

Jackson said that in the coming year, the DEP expects to award approximately $1 million in competitive grants to groups that maintain and operate trails. Recipients will be required to provide a 20 percent matching share for each project, according to the press release.

Other projects already approved for the federal funding include $17,000 for the Friends of West Windsor Open Space in Mercer County for the Zaitz Preserve Woodland Trail. Also, in Mercer County, the Delaware & Raritan (D&R) Greenway Land Trust Inc., received $15,000 to create better trail access, Lawrence Township received $25,000 for its Brearly-Great Meadow Trail project, the city of Trenton received $25,000 for its Stacy Park Trail project, and Washington Crossing State Park received $12,500 for its Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Trail at Washington Grove.

In Middlesex County, Sayreville Borough received $7,000 to use toward its system of nature trails.

Multiple county trial projects also received funding from the federal government. Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, which services Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset counties, received $2,700 for trail markers.

The Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association, which services Atlantic, Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties, received $45,990 for trail maintenance and repair equipment.

The New Jersey Audubon Society, which has a sanctuary that services Bergen, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon and Ocean counties, received $7,165 for its sanctuary trail project. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, which services Morris and Passaic counties, received $25,000 for its Highlands Trail and Central Jersey Trails crew.

The 48 trail projects were recommended for funding by the New Jersey Trails Council and approved by the Federal Highway Administration under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.

The DEP's Office of Natural Lands Management administers the program. The Trails Council comprises interest groups for hiking, mountain biking, motorized trail use, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding, as well as several general trail advocates and state government representatives.

Government agencies and nonprofit organizations had until Dec. 15 to apply for 2008 funding. For additional grant information, call the DEP Trails Program at (609) 984-1339 or visit www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/njtrails.html.