With a Nature Walk and environmental trails proposed at Bubbling Springs Municipal Park, the West Milford Environmental Commission, in conjunction with the Township of West Milford Community Services and Recreation Department, has applied to The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) for a $1,500 grant to underwrite the costs of a landscape architect to assess trail locations, provide a conceptual design and avoid disruption to sensitive wetlands.
For 50 years the ANJEC has been a statewide organization that provides leadership, education and support for Environmental Commissions and local boards and public officials and partners with other organizations to advocate for strong state and regional government policy. The West Milford Environmental Commission, established by ordinance in 1973, is a member of ANJEC. The statewide group’s website said applications for grants up to $1,500 each for local open space and stewardship projects in 10 categories were being accepted. The categories included trail building, signage and maintenance and open space or trails assessment plan maps.
Hoping to receive the requested grant, the WMEC officials said the Bubbling Springs Nature Trail Project would provide an environmental pathway traversing Bubbling Springs Park past the beautiful adjacent pond and natural wetlands, offering a secluded nature walk for hikers and sightseers. School groups and other visitors would be able to access the Nature Walk and learn of area plant and animal life depicted on educational signposts along the walk. The Commissioners believe the extension and interconnection of trails coupled with a beautiful Nature Trail straddling a wide ecosystem would help to draw visitors to the township and enhance its reputation as an eco-friendly tourist destination.
The project proposed in the application seeks to expand existing trails that run in close proximity to Bubbling Springs Park. Creation of a trailhead at Bubbling Springs would provide easy access to the Hewitt-Butler Trail and the Highlands Trail, both of which interconnect with other trails that allow hikers to traverse from the southern reaches of the township at the Norvin Green Preserve to the NJ-NY border at Sterling Forest and beyond. With ample parking already existing at Bubbling Springs, hikers could park their vehicles in a secure location and proceed a short distance to the trails.
The Commissioners see a Nature Walk clearly marked with signage of observable, indigenous plant life as the addition of a new dimension to what is already a very popular facility, adding year-round opportunities for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy a sensitive natural habitat.
Receiving the grant would enable the township to hire a landscape architect to plan and oversee the project.
WMEC Chair Steve Sangle said such services are necessary to ensure that the design and construction of a Nature Trail is properly planned and completed in a fashion consistent with the terrain and overall environment of the park.