New Jersey trails get a much needed helping hand!

Batona Trail Sign

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION APPROVES NEARLY $2.2 MILLION IN TRAIL GRANTS

(13/P9) TRENTON – The Christie Administration has approved nearly $2.2 million in grants for projects that will develop and improve passive and motorized trails across the state, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.

Among the passive recreational trail projects funded are a scenic hiking trail on Pennsauken’s Petty’s Island, creation of an interior trail system at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, a trails connector project linking trails and sites in Morris and Sussex counties, and improvements that will make a portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Mercer County accessible to people with disabilities.

“The Christie Administration is committed to providing ample opportunities for the public to enjoy the great outdoors in New Jersey,” Commissioner Martin said. “These grants, made possible by the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, will fund great recreational trail projects in a wide range of places, from our cities to our suburbs to our woodlands.”

The goal of the federal Recreational Trails Program is to improve access to open space, enhance environmental resources, create urban and suburban corridors, and provide additional hiking, biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle opportunities.   The grants are administered by the DEP’s Green Acres Program.
The grant recipients were recommended for funding by the New Jersey Trails Council and approved by the Federal Highway Administration. The Trails Council is comprised of representatives from hiking, mountain biking, motorized trail use, canoeing/kayaking and horseback riding interest groups, as well as several general trail advocates and state government representatives.

Passive recreational trail projects receiving funding include:

  •  $24,000 to the town of Newton in Sussex County for completion of a critical link of the Sussex Branch Trail that will enable the relocation of the trail from its current on-road alignment to a publicly owned off-road location;
  • $24,000 to Liberty State Park in Hudson County for interior trail development for passive recreation purposes;
  • $24,000 to the Student Conservation Association to repair and improve six miles of trails at Mills Reservation in Essex County;
  • $24,000 to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust for trail development on Petty’s Island, located in the Delaware River along Pennsauken and Camden. The 4.5-mile trail will include interactive wayside exhibits.
  • $24,000 to Mount Olive Township for a cooperative project with the Borough of Stanhope and the DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry to improve trail connections between the municipalities, the Morris Canal Towpath, the Sussex Branch Trail, the Highlands Trail, Lake Musconetcong, and the Netcong Train Station.
  • $10,756 to assist the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife in opening a new section of the Cape Island Wildlife Management Area in Lower Township for public use.  Funds will be used to extend a road to a parking area and develop a 1,000-foot trail link to an existing 3.6-mile trail network that was developed by nearby schools. Funds will also be used for additional trail signage.
  • $16,000 to Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park in Mercer County  for the purchase of materials and rental of  equipment to construct an access  to improve access for people with disabilities to a two-mile section park trail in the vicinity of the Port Mercer Canal House.

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 come from a portion of the motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway recreational fuel use. Funding is contingent upon congressional authorization or extension of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Bill.

Since the program’s inception in 1993, New Jersey has awarded more than $14.5 million to federal, state, county, and local governments, as well as nonprofit groups. Of the funding available each year, 30 percent is allocated for non-motorized trail projects, 30 percent to motorized trail projects, and 40 percent for diversified use trail projects.  Recipients are required to provide a 20 percent matching share for each project.

Applications for the next round of competitive federal grants are now being accepted by the DEP for consideration for funding in 2013 to develop, maintain, improve trails and operate trails throughout New Jersey. The deadline to apply to the DEP is February 15.

The funds can be used to improve access to open space, enhance environmental resources, create urban and suburban corridors and provide additional hiking, biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle opportunities.

Federal, state, county and local governments and nonprofit groups are eligible for the federal funds.  To learn more about the state’s vision, goals and action plan for recreational and motorized trail development or to apply for a 2013 grant, visit www.trails.nj.gov

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Apple Pie Hill Fire Tower

In the Pine Barons of South Jersey, deep in Wharton State Forest,  there is a great expanse of pinelands that stretches as far as the eye can see.  On a recent hike on part of the Batona Trail, we reached the Apple Pie Hill Fire Tower.  NJDEP.  The fire tower is 60 feet tall and sits upon a hill that makes the height of about 200 feet above sea level.

You can see Atlantic City, NJ and the casinos are visible in the distance on a clear day.  And to my surprise, in the other direction, you can make out the Philadelphia skyline.  Quite a distance.

The tower used to serve as a look-out for forest fires but now serves as a destination for hikers, nature lovers and, unfortunately, young people who want to party and who don’t respect what they found in the woods.

If your in the area, it is worth the trip.

There’s a mansion in the pines!

I took these shots when I was hiking in Atsion.  This is Samuel Richard’s Mansion.  Quoted from the website:    http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/wharton.html

“The Atsion Mansion was built in 1826 as a summer home for Samuel Richards. Richards, who a prominent ironmaster from Philadelphia, was the operator of the Atsion furnace along the Mullica River. After Richards died in 1842, the property was passed down through his heirs, and finally sold to another Philadelphia merchant, Maurice Raleigh. The Raleigh family was the last to use the mansion as a residence. When Joseph Wharton purchased the property in 1892, he used the mansion for packing and storage for his cranberry production. The state acquired the property in 1955.”

Samuel Richard’s Mansion

It’s been a long time…

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It’s been a long time since a train ran through these parts.  These tracks run through what is left of Atsion Village.  I will have more photos of the remaining structures in other posts shortly.

I found reference of the Central Railroad of NJ and several other names as the land and railroad was purchased by several people over the years.  Here is a link with detailed information about the railroads of the era. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_Southern_Railroad