South Mountain Conservancy honors long-time volunteer

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — David Hogenauer was honored by the South Mountain Conservancy for his 17 years of extensive volunteer service at its Trailkeeper and Chainsaw Gang Breakfast on March 30 in West Orange. The award was presented by Dennis Percher, chairman of the South Mountain Conservancy.

Hogenauer started the SMC’s hiking program in 2002, and was an active hike leader until this year; he was renowned for his history hikes, unusual routes and walks for families with young children. In addition, he began and coordinated the Chainsaw Gang from 2011 until last year, clearing the hiking trails in South Mountain Reservation of toppled trees, and helped blaze and maintain several trails as a dedicated trail keeper.

The annual spring breakfast brings together the many volunteers who maintain some 30 miles of reservation trails throughout the year. They discuss successful efforts, ongoing challenges and priorities for the upcoming year to ensure hikers and runners have clear paths, especially for the conservancy’s upcoming Mayapple Trail Runs set for May 11. After the breakfast, many volunteers worked on renewing the blazes on several trails.

Hogenauer, a long-time Maplewood resident and retired Columbia High School history teacher, is a living legend to many who have walked or worked with him over his decades of involvement with the reservation. He authored the comprehensive “Trail Guide to the South Mountain Reservation” and a major contributor to the accompanying trail map.

A scholarly historian of the reservation, he is finalizing his history of the South Mountain Reservation to be published this summer. His extensive knowledge of the reservation’s trails, landscape, flora and fauna, and history is quickly evident to anyone on his guided walks. Besides his volunteer efforts with the conservancy, Hogenauer has been an active hike leader with the Union Hiking Club, and held multiple volunteer positions in the community, including many at Maplewood’s Prospect Presbyterian Church. He received Maplewood’s Maple Leaf Community Service Award in 2007.

Photos Courtesy of Dan Kaslow