TRENTON, NJ – The Christie administration has approved 63 applications totaling $1,188,500 for recreational trail projects throughout New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced on Thursday, Feb. 18. The funds come from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program and are administered by the DEP’s Green Acres Program. Among those included was $21,000 for Soverel Park Trail in the city of East Orange.
The goal of the Recreational Trails Program is to improve public access to open space, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, develop trail linkages, create urban and suburban trail corridors and provide sites and facilities for additional and improved hiking, biking, horseback riding and off-highway vehicle activities.
“Preserving and enhancing natural resources and open spaces, and providing affordable recreational opportunities for our residents are priorities for the Christie Administration,” Commissioner Martin said. “New Jersey’s trails not only provide residents and visitors with recreational and health benefits, but improve the quality of life in our communities. This funding will further improve and enhance those experiences.”
“These funds are critical to the ongoing development and maintenance of our statewide trail network, which provides greater access to New Jersey’s many open spaces and highlights our abundant recreational and historic treasures,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Rich Boornazian.
The New Jersey Trails Council recommended the grant recipients for funding and the Federal Highway Administration approved them. The Trails Council is comprised of representatives from hiking, mountain biking, motorized trail use, canoeing/kayaking and equestrian interest groups, as well as general trail advocates and state government representatives.
The Federal Highway Administration provides financial assistance to states for developing and maintaining trails and trail facilities. The funds come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, and represent a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. Since the program’s inception in 1993, New Jersey has awarded more than $15.9 million to federal, state, county and local governments, and nonprofit agencies. Of the funding available each year, 30 percent is allocated for non-motorized trail projects, 30 percent for motorized trail projects, and 40 percent for diversified use trail projects. Recipients are required to provide a 20 percent matching share for each project.
The approvals cover a wide variety of trails projects statewide, including:
- $24,000 to the Monmouth County Park System for a 1,300-foot extension of the Henry Hudson Trail in Freehold Borough. The paved 10-foot-wide, 24-mile trail is developed on a former railroad right-of-way, and would extend from the current trail terminus in Freehold Borough to the town center, linking neighborhoods and parks.
- $17,200 to the New Jersey Youth Corps of Paterson to restore the Great Falls and Westside Park trails in the City of Paterson. The Youth Corps will revamp the trail areas, improving access to the Passaic River for fishing and walking. Restoration of the Overlook Trail at the Great Falls is included in the project.
- $24,000 to Egg Harbor Township to restore trails at the township’s Nature Reserve by adding parking, trailhead facilities and signage. Trail uses in the Reserve include hiking, biking, equestrian activities and cross-country skiing.
- $24,000 to the Appalachian Mountain Club for the Buttermilk Falls Rehabilitation Project to minimize trail erosion and eliminate off-trail damage. Buttermilk Falls is the state’s highest waterfall and is a popular destination in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Applications for the next round of competitive federal grants will be accepted by the DEP this spring for funding consideration to develop, maintain and improve trails, as well as to operate trails throughout New Jersey. The federal funds can be used to improve open space access, enhance environmental resources, create urban and suburban corridors, and provide additional hiking, biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle opportunities.
For more information on DEP’s Recreational Trails Program, visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/trails/index.html.