Friday, March 11, 2011

Trail Blazers

By John Clancey

Nature is everywhere. From the hedges that line people’s property lines, to the boulders pushed here by glaciers millions of years ago, we are defined by this natural world. We maintain the illusion of society, but really we are an island cast adrift amongst a sea of forests. Still, every day we look to strengthen this divide, we removing ourselves more and more from what is truly our birthright. Thankfully, however, we need not fear this societal shift away from the natural world. The truth remains that no matter how estranged we may become, we will always be able reconnect through our national parks.

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is an organization dedicated to the conservation and development of the two states already sterling network of parks and trails. Together with the support of volunteers, the NY-NJ Trail Conference builds trails, promotes environmental stewardship, supports activists and land conservation, promotes responsible trail use, educates citizens, and brings communities closer. Through the efforts of volunteers, The NY-NJ Trail Conference assures the development and sanctuary of over 1,700 miles of public trail.

Still, it takes more than a coalition of volunteers to protect such vast tracks of open land. No matter how secure protected areas may appear, in an age of industrial pollution and space aged plastics, the dangers of environmental erosion have never been more real. Land development of all types presents the biggest threat. Large scale housing projects and power line extensions intrude on traditionally scenic areas, damaging already struggling environments. Things like interstate pipelines threaten state owned preserves and parks. In New Jersey, unregulated ATV use causes massive damage to trails and paths originally only designed to support foot traffic. Fluctuations in state funding and understaffing amongst preserves also present potential threats to the areas remaining wilderness.

With these threats in mind, it’s important for citizens both young and old to look up and take notice of what’s happening to the world around them. The NY-NJ Trial Conference presents citizens the information they need to make a stand. Concerned parties can volunteer, make donations, or simply make use of the facilities available to them. The patronage of state parks and trails is not only beneficial to the patron, but to the parks themselves. Volunteering to maintain and develop new trails is essential to expanding the capabilities of our state parks.

In a world that has become the definition of hyper development, it is important to remember what our roots are. As humanity moves into the next phase of a global community, the impotents of national parks continues to grow and grow. Not only do they offer the next generation a chance to connect with a time long lost, but provide a convenient escape for anyone within driving distance. By associating with the NY-NJ trail Conference, you not only strengthen the quality of life, but invest in the future of your community.

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