On November 10th, the Circuit Trails Coalition held its semi-annual meeting—which celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the coalition. Members of the coalition provided updates on trail milage, strategic plans, expanding the Circuit Community and guest spotlights from Thrive Outside and Montgomery County Planning Commission.
The meeting is an opportunity for the members of the coalition—a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and agencies to reflect on the progress made over the year and to look forward. Over its 10 years, the coalition has helped complete 370+ miles of trails throughout the region, capture funding to accelerate trail development and connect the community to the trails. We’ve provide a recap on the information that was provided by members of the coalition. The full presentation can be accessed in the Circuit’s resource library in the Semi-Annual Meeting tab.
Following a look back on just a few of the major highlights that have been achieved over the previous 10 years, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) reported on the Circuit Trails status in 2022. Recent completions brought 1.5 new miles to the region include the following trails:
In New Jersey:
- Delaware River Heritage Trail: Roosevelt Park – Cherrix Ave to Roosevelt Ave (Sponsor: Edgewater Park Twp.) – 0.16 miles
- Delaware River Heritage Trail: Florence Township Border to Near Union St (Developer-Built) – 0.45 miles
- Cobbs Creek Trail: Segment D (Sponsor: City of Philadelphia) – 0.33 miles
- Darby Creek Trail: Gillespie Park and Gillespie Park to Rosemont Ave (not including incomplete Darby Creek bridges) (Sponsor: Upper Darby Twp.) – 0.6 miles
Since 2012, the coalition has added 124 miles, invested over $240 million into the network and increased from 33% complete to 45%. Of the 374 completed miles today, there are 40 miles that are fully funded and in progress. As we look ahead there are less than 90 miles that will be advocated for to reach the goal of 500 completed miles by 2025.
The coalition has identified a number of activities to expand the Circuit Trails community including the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s (PEC) Community Grant Program. PEC, on behalf of the Circuit Trails Coalition and with funding from The William Penn Foundation, is excited to launch the Circuit Trails Coalition Community Grant Program. Applications are being accepted now.
The program provides one and two-year grants of $1,000 to $10,000 per year for projects that increase a sense of welcome, belonging, and safety among under-represented groups on the Circuit Trails, a network of hundreds of miles of multi-use trails throughout nine counties in the Greater Philadelphia region (PA and NJ). The program will distribute a total of $150,000 over two years.
Priority will be given to projects led by and engaging under-represented and marginalized groups; projects that promote equity and serve historically disinvested communities; and organizations with an annual budget of less than $500,000. Individuals, groups, and organizations are eligible for funding.
Applications are due by Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 11:59pm. Learn more about this opportunity and share it with your networks to help us spread the word!
National Wildlife Foundation presented on Thrive Outside, a collective initiative funded by the Outdoor Foundation. The goal is to build and strengthen networks that provide children and families with repeat and reinforcing experiences in the outdoors to create a more inclusive and accessible outdoor experience for all.
The networks include the Circuit Trails Coalition, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Alliance for Watershed Education and the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. Areas where networks overlap also known as “hubs” have been identified in Reading, Pennsylvania, Southwest and Northeast Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey.
Next steps involve completing asset assessments and barrier identification at the hub level. And to determine how existing and future network activities align with hub needs and shared goals. If this sparks a connection that aligns with these next steps, we encourage you to reach out to Kelsey Brooks with the National Wildlife Foundation at email@example.com.
Concluding the semi-annual meeting was an update on the highly anticipated Chester Valley Trail East by Bill Hartman with the Montgomery County Planning Commission. The trail is measured at 3.9 miles in length, extends through Upper Merion Township, Bridgeport and Norristown. There are three major bridge crossings, one major utility corridor along PECO right-of-way and is a major connector on the Circuit. The current projected completion date is somewhere between December 2022 and January 2023. Stay tuned as we plan to invite all that are interested when the time comes to celebrate this trail segment once completed.
A special thank you to each and every member of the coalition, as well as our partners and supporters, who are moving the Circuit forward! Interested in learning more about the Circuit Trails? There are many ways to get involved in your area to help the coalition advocate and accelerate the development of our regional trails network.