New Jersey has some terrific trails, both part of The Circuit and outside our region’s dominant trail system. These trails have been bolstered by $1 million a year in trail funding provided by federal transportation dollars.
Right now, however, New Jersey is sitting on nearly $2 million in trail funding, unable to use it or spend it because there’s no one to administer the grants. program.
The short story is that New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been shifting staff resources to deal with Hurricane Sandy recovery projects. Which is important, but that staffing shift includes the person responsible for administering this trail funding money. This article on Philly.com written by Michele Byers of the NJ Conservation Foundation gives a good overview of the issue.
There are obvious fixes to this, but the DEP needs prodding. Send an email to Robert Martin, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and urge him restore New Jersey’s Recreational Trail Program.
This trail money is given in $25,000 (or smaller) grants to build, promote, or maintain trails. These things take time, and spring is nearly here. New Jersey is not acting on $1 million allocated last year, and has also frozen $1 million for 2014. Let’s get that money working for trails in New Jersey!