Shore groups receive $68,000 in aid for trail preservation

Date Published: 
Sat, 12/04/2010

Organizations that maintain Shore-area trails recently received more than $68,000 to aid in their work, and more money may be on the way.

The state Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Natural Lands Management acted as the pass-through agency for the federal grant program designed to develop, maintain and improve trails in the state. More than $800,000 was awarded to organizations throughout the state, according to a DEP news release.

The deadline for applying for the next round of federal grants is 6 p.m. Dec. 15, according to the DEP. Federal, state, county and local governmental agencies and nonprofit groups are eligible for the grants.

Locally, Monmouth County groups received more than $28,000, while Ocean County groups received more than $40,000.

Among the agencies receiving a grant in Monmouth County was Allaire State Park, which will use its $1,600 to improve the park's south-side trail head off Hospital Road in Wall, said DEP spokesman Larry Ragonese.

The money is targeted for three uses, he said: replacing the existing bulletin board with a larger kiosk, replacing some wooden split-rail fencing, and for signage and trail markers.

That money was leveraged by parts of two grants, totaling more than $50,000, awarded to the Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association. Brick resident Frank Harms, who heads the group's Monmouth County chapter, said the money will be used mainly to buy tools the group needs to maintain the trails.

The chapter, called the Allaire Trail Users Group, has logged more than 2,000 hours of volunteer time in reconfiguring and maintaining the multi-use trails over the last two years, Harms said.

"A lot of our projects involve reshaping and recontouring the trails so they are more sustainable," he said.

"A lot of them were inherited motorcycle trails that were pretty much straight cut. They tend to erode, and that's bad for the land and doesn't enhance your trail experience. We re-route them, make them a little more twisty, make them flow better."

The trails are used by hikers and walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians, he said.

Manasquan received a $1,516 grant for signage along the Coast Trail, and Millstone Trailblazers received a $25,000 grant for its Mine Hills Trail project.

In Ocean County, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service received a $25,000 grant for work on the Pancoast Road Trail in the Barnegat/Waretown area.

The forest fire service's Greg McLaughlin said the money will be used to continue work on fire breaks and fuel breaks along the trail. A fire break is a cleared surface of noncombustible material, such as a sand road. A fuel break is an area where vegetation has been modified in some way to prevent fires from spreading.

"It goes back to 2007, part of a larger project that the forest fire service been working on with Barnegat, Stafford and Ocean to develop a fire break and fuel break from West Bay Avenue to the Garden State Parkway," he said.

"The question we asked was, where the homes meet the forest, how could we better protect those homes?"

McLaughlin said the service wants to designate the trail as a passive use trail, hoping increased use by walkers will cut down on its illegal use by all-terrain vehicle riders.

The grant also will allow the service to ""put up some educational signage and kiosks to explain what we are doing with the fuel break,'' he said. ""We're taking the road, trying to make it identifiable as a passive use trail, and to have it become somewhat educational in the sense it will talk about natural resources and the fire break project.''

Brick received an $11,200 grant for trail head facilities and trail rehabilitation, and the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust received a $3,750 grant for restoration of the Crossley Preserve Trail.

Other grants affecting trails in Monmouth and Ocean counties went to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the State Park Service.

Bill Bowman • STAFF WRITER • December 4, 2010
Asbury Park Press