Off roaders rehab former Jungle Habitat property

Date Published: 
Sun, 11/19/2006

A township "gem" received some polishing last week.

Members of the Ramapo Valley Cycling Club and Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association joined together last Sunday from 9am to 1pm to clean up the trails on the Jungle Habitat property off of Airport Road.

Mountain biking, hiking, hunting, and other non-motorized activities are permitted at the former Warner Bros. animal safari park on property now owned by the state and maintained by Ringwood State Park.

The organizations volunteered to maintain the multi-use trails to keep in line with the township's vision of outdoor recreation and allow enthusiasts to enjoy the available trails.

"Our goals were to remove deadfall, invasive brush (on the existing trails) and cart out any unsafe relics and rubbish that was left in the park for the past 30 years," said JORBA Executive Director Jeffrey Mergler, a West Milford resident. "We had a massive turnout of 62 people and were able to fill two 30 yard dumpsters with this material."

Volunteers removed any unsafe structures and eyesores left over from theme park days. Any structures that were deemed safe or of historical interest were left intact, such as an otter slide and children's railroad.

Councilman Joseph Smolinski, who attended the event with Councilman-elect Sal Schimmenti, said a lot of metal and refrigeration units were removed.

Smolinski, the former chairman of the township's Recreation Advisory Committee, said he's glad the organization took the project on. Advocates of the property often call it a "gem" or "diamond in the rough" and want to utilize the 800 acres.

The Jersey Off-Road Bicycle Association is an organization that represents the rights of off-road cyclists in New Jersey and coordinates and promotes volunteer efforts like the cleanup at Jungle Habitat. Members also act as steward of Wawayanda and Ringwood state parks.

The Ramapo Valley Cycling Club is one of several chapters within JORBA.

The cleanup was co-sponsored by Town Cycle of West Milford and Trek Bicycle Co. with equipment and supplies donated by Gagliano, Baldacci Construction, JS Contracting, Clockwork Construction, Glenn Tynan Construction and the International Mountain Biking Association.