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Saddened by the passing of Len Frank, creator of Paulinskill Valley Trail

Newton /
| 25 Jan 2021 | 05:43

To the Editor:

Len Frank, founding member of the Skylands Sierra Club ground recently died at age 96 in Newton. Len devoted himself to his passions of preserving the environment, hiking, stamp collecting, and local history.

Len Frank was responsible for building and protecting the Paulinskill Valley Trail. It is the sixth longest trail in the state at 27 miles. Visitors will see plentiful wildlife, such as bear, bobcat, mink, and deer, along the path, and sightings of more than 100 species of birds have been documented.

Our hearts and wishes go out to Len’s family. Len is an environmental champion and founding member of a critical Sierra Club group in Northwest New Jersey. He not only came up with the idea, but planned and built the Paulinskill Valley Trail which is the sixth longest trail in the state and enjoyed by thousands of people every year. I knew and worked with Len, especially when it came to protecting the trail from widening, ATVs, and properties near the trail. He fought to maintain the trail that he loved.

Together with his wife, Erica, he backpacked all over America, hiked some of the highest mountains, and led Sierra Club hikes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and California. An early proponent of converting railroads to hiking trails, he was also a founder and first president of the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee.

Len and Erica coordinated many outdoors events and hikes throughout the state. His love for the outdoors soon extended into critical activism when it came to protecting open space. Len was an avid conservationist and worked to preserve land in the Skylands Region of New Jersey, its beautiful mountains and critical streams. He was also one of the leaders to stop Tocks Island Dam and helped to create the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Len will be missed but you will find his work when you see the beautiful mountains of Northwest New Jersey or while you’re enjoying the Delaware Water Gap. Even though he is gone, his environmental legacy will always be remembered.

Jeff Tittel, Director

New Jersey Sierra Club