NJDEP – Press Release 22/P008

(22/P008) TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the New Jersey Geospatial Forum Trails Working Group, today announced the release of the first phase of an inventory of public trails in New Jersey statewide. This first-of-its-kind dataset, utilizing information provided by government agencies and nonprofit organizations, will advance the capabilities of DEP and other government agencies, trail planners, and advocates to improve, expand, and better connect the state’s vast network of trails, improving access for all New Jersey residents.

“As the most densely populated state, we know the restorative value of connecting with nature by hiking or biking a trail,” said Commissioner DEP Shawn M. LaTourette. “We are fortunate in New Jersey to have some 3,700 miles of trails intertwining our forests, coastal marshes, stream corridors, mountains, and urban areas. With this new information tool, DEP and its partners can ensure better connectivity of our trails, improve public safety, improve access for residents of our state, and plan for the protection and expansion of trail networks. first class for future generations.

Among many benefits, this data will help planners and advocates identify areas of interest for New Jersey, prioritizing projects and acquisitions that will tie into larger trails to create a network of trails and greenways. statewide. The data will also help advance the goals of the New Jersey Trail Plan, including creating a list of “top ten” trail priorities and creating a trail that is accessible to all residents, with a focus especially on overburdened communities.

“Planners will have much easier access to information that will help advance New Jersey’s environmental justice and equity priorities,” said Olivia Glenn, DEP Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Justice and Equity. “With this information, planners can strategically and collaboratively analyze existing trails, prioritize planned trails, and assess the availability of transit options for all user groups, especially those living in congested communities, to access and enjoy New Jersey’s great trail system.”

The dataset, accessible by PC and smartphones, can be useful to the public in finding places to hike. Web links and/or contact information are provided to the trail manager. The DEP strongly recommends that hikers use these resources for more detailed maps and information, as well as current conditions or advisories. Hikers should always research and understand the trails and terrain before venturing out. Hikers should also be prepared for emergencies.

The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forests offers a mobile-friendly Trail Tracker interactive trail map that provides helpful information about hiking in state parks, forests, and recreation areas. Always be sure to download a pdf version before venturing into areas where cell service is unreliable.

Many partners contributed to the development of the trails dataset, including federal, state, county, and municipal governments, nonprofits, metropolitan planning organizations, commissions, and various educational institutions. . The main partners are the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New York-New Jersey Trails Conference, the New Jersey Office of Information Technology, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority and the New Jersey Highlands Council.

Starting in 2023, DEP will update the data annually, in time for National Trails Day in the first week of June. DEP also plans to integrate the data into a user-friendly web application in the future.

“This initial dataset should be considered the first phase of a ‘living’ dataset,” said Brandee Chapman, DEP State Trails Coordinator and New Jersey Trails Task Force Co-Chair. “The Trails Working Group is currently developing a process to maintain, fill data gaps and make the dataset more robust over time. We are grateful to the many partners we have worked with over the years to create this dataset and enhance an already impressive trail network. We look forward to working with them in the years to come to further improve this work.

“Trails are vitally important for providing access to the outdoors and connecting people to nature,” said Tanya Nolte, GIS manager for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and co-chair of the New Jersey Trails Task Force. “It is gratifying to see the work of the task force culminate in this first public release of a statewide trail dataset. I look forward to its inclusion in Conservation Blueprint, a free online mapping tool; Statewide trail representation will make it easier to identify priority lands for conservation, including where new trails can connect to existing networks.

“Creating this dataset has been a long-time goal for the New Jersey Trails Council and has been identified as a top priority for the New Jersey Trails Plan,” said Bill Foelsch, president of the New Jersey Trails Council. “It’s wonderful to see this goal become a reality!”

“This dataset supports Complete Streets initiatives and will help improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Andrew Swords of NJDOT’s Statewide Planning Division. “By being able to see all the places where trails cross public roads across the state, we can perform a comprehensive analysis showing the current conditions of safety features such as crosswalks, signage and signals, and prioritize areas needing improvement or attention.”

The dataset can be accessed at https://gisdata-njdep.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/statewide-trails-in-new-jersey/explore

DEP encourages trail managers to share data by contacting Heather Korski ([email protected]) or Sharon Cost ([email protected])

If you plan to map trail data, please consider using the DEP model so the data can be easily integrated into the dataset.

Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep.

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