Chester Trails is an organization of volunteers that arose from a collaborative effort between the neighboring municipalities of Chester Township and Chester Borough in New Jersey. The group’s purpose is to improve access to and knowledge of Chester’s trail system and make improvements in trailhead kiosks, directional signage and blazing. The group is also working on improved mapping and GPS positioning on the many miles of existing trails.
Support from the Chester Recreational Trails Grant has catalyzed a large number of projects involving many organizations. Monetary support for many of the projects was provided by a Chester Recreational Trails Grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This grant has funded many enhancements to Chester’s Trails, including:
- Wayfinding – Making it easy to find trails with 12 interpretive signs at the historic Chester Furnace site, 17 new directional signs, 6 added kiosks at locations including Main Street, Chester, the West Morris Greenway trailhead, Patriots Path at Seward’s Hill, and easily accessible mapping through website link and Avenza mobile app;
- Enhancement of Trail System – Adding new trails, connecting significant sections between Patriots’ Path and Tiger Brook Park in Chester Township, re-blazing trails, adding directional signs.
The project has fostered collaboration by engaging the Environmental Committee, Open Space Committee, Parks Committee, Historical Society, Eagle Scouts, and volunteers. It has offered public education by leading guided historical, geological, geocaching, and ornithological hikes. It has connected new residents with established residents, establishing an online trails community through its website and Facebook, and provided many multi-generational outdoor experiences.
Integrated Trails Ecosystem Plan for Chester
Chester Trails began as a 2012 initiative funded by an ANJEC Land Use Grant to create an Integrated Trails Ecosystem Plan for the Chesters, and was facilitated by Conservation Resources Inc. In 2014, the organization received a NJDEP Grant for the purpose of implementing some of the recommendations. In the Integrated Trails Ecosystem Project (ITEP), improving connections between trails, neighborhoods, and facilities, and creating signage to help people locate trailheads as well as local points of interest was the priority. ITEP pulled together information on over 50 miles of trails in Chester Township and Chester Borough, and then made suggestions about how to improve the trails network.
The Integrated Trails Ecosystem Plan for Chester was made possible by the financial support of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), the Chester Historical Society, the Chester Borough Open Space Trust Fund, the Chester Township Open Space Trust Fund, and the Raritan Highlands Commission/North Jersey RC&D.
The hard working volunteers for the Project Team were: Doug Carmel, Maxine Finney, Bill Foelsch, Marla Jackson, Julie Gause and Ed Ng (leader). Michael Catania and Jon Wagar of Conservation Resources provided extraordinary consulting services to the project.
The Project Team would also like to acknowledge the following individuals and organizations for their assistance:
- Morris County GIS: Stuart Walter, Janice Peal, and Steve Rice;
- Chester Township: Mayor William Cogger, Councilman Matt Kass, and Sarah Jane Noll;
- Chester Borough: Mayor Robert Davis;
- Morris County Parks: Tom Edmunds, Russell Nee, and David Helmer;
- Ben Spinelli, Tony Flammino, Dr. John Puffer, Gracie Harrigan Consulting Foresters, Marty Epstein & Jesse Epstein of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, and Tuen Ott;
- The comments and feedback from the Chester Township Environmental Commission and the Chester Borough Environmental & Open Space Committee.
Chester Recreational Trails Grant Team
Members of the Chester Recreational Trails Grant Team deserve grateful thanks and recognition: Bruce Clark, Julie Gause, Bill Foelsch, Kay Cynamon, Dan Hartman, Doug Carmel, Edward Ng (team leader), Jon Wagar, Tom Edmunds, Kelli Kovacevic, Russ Nee, Maxine Finney, and Brian Coan. They are all volunteers extraordinaire, whose dedication, commitment of time, trail sense, brain and muscle power, have made the project a success.
Support from the Chester Recreational Trails Grant has catalyzed a large number of trails projects involving many organizations. Monetary support for many of the projects was provided by a Chester Recreational Trails Grant (2013-2017) from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Grateful thanks goes to Chester Township, Chester Borough, Morris County Parks Commission, NJ DEP, Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, the Boy Scouts of America, the Chester Historical Society, and the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Invaluable consulting services were provided by Tom DuHamel (I Heart Blank LLC) for website design and development and Jim Hanson (GeoMedia Solutions LLC) for mapping and geospatial data management services.