48 New Jersey recreational trails benefiting from over $800,000 in 2010 federal aid

Friday, 05 November 2010 17:33
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hikingtrail_optAn additional $1 million may be available in 2011

More than $800,000 in federal recreational trail grants have been allocated to 48 projects in New Jersey this year, and another $1 million may soon be available for 2011 projects, according to state Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

The largest grants totaled $25,000.

Applications for the next round of federal grants are being accepted by the DEP for consideration for funding next year. The federal funds, which are administered by the Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Natural Lands Management, can be used to improve access to open space, enhance environmental resources, create urban and suburban corridors and provide additional hiking, biking and horseback riding opportunities.

"Preserving and enhancing our natural resources and open spaces, and providing affordable recreational opportunities for our residents are priorities of the DEP,'' Martin said. "The quality of life in many New Jersey cities and towns is enhanced by the broad network of trails, which connects the fabric of our communities.''

Martin said trails can provide appreciation and accessibility of open space in rural, urban and suburban areas, as well as enjoyment by persons of all abilities, ages and means who are seeking physical activity and improved fitness as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.

In 2011, the DEP expects to award about $1 million in competitive grants for groups that maintain, develop and operate trails. Recipients are required to provide a 20 percent matching share for each project. The funding is contingent upon congressional authorization or an extension of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Surface Transportation bill.

"These funds are vital to the development and maintenance of a statewide network of trails in New Jersey," DEP Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources Amy Cradic said. "The matching grants will provide for greater access to the state's many open spaces while providing alternative transportation corridors, health and fitness opportunities and enhancing the state's vast natural and historic resources.''

This year, 48 trail projects have received $833,109 in funding from the federal Recreational Trails Program.

A $25,000 grant was awarded to the nonprofit Student Conservation Association (SCA) to work with the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs on trail maintenance and improvements in various Essex County parks and reservations.

SCA also received $25,000 to work with the Hunterdon County Department of Parks and Recreation to repair and improve trails at Musconetcong Gorge Preserve.

Wawayanda State Park partnered with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Sussex County and Vernon Township to receive $25,000 to develop a parking area to allow access to the popular Appalachian Trail ADA accessible boardwalk over the Pochuck Creek wetlands.

Brick Township received $11,200 to develop trailhead facilities and trail rehabilitation on the Airport Tract and Sawmill Bicycle Paths.

In Camden, Cooper's Ferry Development Association is being provided $25,000 to develop the Von Neida Park Greenway Trail that will connect to a larger Camden GreenWay System that links other trails, parks and recreational areas throughout Camden County.

The 48 grant recipients in 2010 were recommended for funding by the New Jersey Trails Council and approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

Here are the 2010 recipients:

Atlantic County

Bergen County

Camden County

Essex County

Gloucester County

Hudson County

Hunterdon County

Mercer County

Middlesex County

Monmouth County

Morris County

Ocean County

Salem County

Somerset County

Sussex County

Warren County

Multiple Counties

People interested in grant information, an application form, or who want to read New Jersey's 2009 Trails Plans Update that offers a vision, goals and strategic actions to guide the state's trails efforts, should visit trails.nj.gov.

The deadline to apply to the DEP for a possible 2011 grant is Dec. 15. Federal, state, county and local government agencies, and nonprofit groups are eligible for the funds.

– TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM