Trails Council Meeting October 1, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Trails Council

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council
October 1, 2009 - 6:30 PM

Draft Agenda

The Trails Council is a forum for discussing trail-related projects and concerns as well as sharing information and strategies. It makes decisions concerning the adopting new trails, blazing procedures, and matters that directly affect the building and maintenance of hiking trails. Voting members are the council chair, trails chairs, supervisors, trail crew chiefs and crew leaders. Club trail representatives and visitors are welcome at these meetings, held on the first Thursday of even-numbered months. 

Please submit items at least one week before the meeting. We will try to accommodate late submissions at the end of the meeting if there is time.


  • Introductions
  • Announcements
  • Approval of minutes
  • Additions to agenda

Committee Reports                                                                                                                            6:45

  • Publications -
  • Regional Reps -
  • NY State Trails Council - Jane Daniels


Trail Approvals

  • Highlands Trail - Hunterdon County Permission - Brenda Holtzinger 7:45
  • Pequannock Watershed - Reroute of Buckabear Pond Trail - Jonas, Anderson 7:50
  • Ward Pound Ridge - New Trail - Hormoz Kheirabi 7:55

New Business                                                                                                                                            

  • Bicycles on hiking trails in the N. J. Palisades - Jakob Franke 8:00

Old Business

  • Plan and Budget - Final Draft - Larry Wheelock 8:30
  • Speaking Up For Trails (Follow up) -Brenda Holzinger 8:40


Some suggested agenda items for the December meeting: Trails Policy, Trail standards and assessment

Sandwiches and beverages will be served. Donations are welcomed.

Directions: NY NJ Trail Conference: 156 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah, NJ

It is located on Route 202, near its intersection with Route 17. Coming from the south, take Route 17 to the Route 202 exit in Mahwah, and turn right at the bottom of the ramp.  The Trail Conference office is the first building on the left.  Coming from the north, take the New York Thruway to Exit 15A and continue south on Route 17.  Take the exit for Route 202 (the second exit on Route 17), turn right at the bottom of the ramp, and cross under Route 17. The Trail Conference is the first building on the left.

Status of Minutes: 


of the


of the



October 1, 2009


          1.  Trails Council Chair Jane Daniels called the meeting to order at 6:32 p.m. at the Trail Conference office in Mahwah, N.J.  Present were: Jane Daniels - Chair, Larry Wheelock - Special Projects Manager, Catherine Gemmell - Information Manager, Estelle Anderson, Jill Arbuckle, Jim Canfield, Daniel D. Chazin, Walt Daniels, Monica Day, Jean Fletcher, Jakob Franke, Andy Garrison, Suzan Gordon, Josie Gray, Brenda Holzinger, Bob Jonas, Hormoz Kheirabi, Mark Liss, Ron Luna, John Mack, Paul Makus, Robert Marshall, John Moran, Sandy Parr, Joel Pinsker, Larry Pohl, Keith Scherer, Trudy Schneider, Ike Siskind, Shawn Smith, Brian Sniatkowski, Pete Tilgner and Georgette Weir.


          Jane Daniels thanked Larry Wheelock and Catherine Gemmell for their devoted efforts on behalf of the Trails Council.


          2.  Announcements.  The following announcements were made:


                   a.   Trails Council Page on Web Site.  Walt Daniels pointed out that the Trails Council has its own page on the Trail Conference web site, and he noted that all Trails Council minutes going back to 2001 are now on this page.  He also pointed out that there is a list of group members on this page, but that few Trails Council members are currently included on this list, and he urged all others to register on the site.  Jane Daniels asked for volunteers to help put additional hikes on our web site.


                   b.  Annual Meeting.  Jane Daniels announced that the Trail Conference Annual Meeting will be held at Lower Twin Lake Camp in Harriman State Park on Saturday, October 17th.


          3.  Minutes.  The minutes of the Trails Council meeting of August 6, 2009 were approved as corrected.


          4.  Reports.  The following reports were presented:


                   a.  Report of Publications Committee.  Daniel Chazin reported that the new edition of the West Hudson map set should be printed next week, and that our cartographer, Jeremy Apgar, is currently working on the new digital edition of the Catskill Trails map set.  He pointed out that we maintain files of all map corrections, and he urged Trails Council members to report any errors on any of our maps, so that they may be corrected for the next edition.


                   b.  East Hudson Regional Representative.  Jane Daniels reported that we have received some good resumes for this position, which is currently open, due to the recent resignation of Christie Ferguson.


                   c.  Report of Special Projects Manager.  Larry Wheelock noted that new master plans are being worked on for Fahnestock and Minnewaska State Parks, and he announced that a hearing on the Minnewaska Master Plan will be held on Thursday, October 22nd at SUNY New Paltz.


                   d.  Highlands Trail.  Brenda Holzinger reported that the official opening of the Highlands Trail in Hunterdon County will take place at the Jugtown Mountain Preserve on Sunday, October 25th.  She noted that there would be a hike in the morning, followed by the official ceremony, and that there would also be several shorter hikes in afternoon.  More details are available at  Larry Wheelock noted that the Board has belatedly approved the route of the Highlands Trail in Hunterdon County.


                   e.  Trail Maintainer Vacancies.  Catherine Gemmell noted that our vacancy rate for trail maintainers is currently below 10%.  She pointed out that, up to now, it has been the practice to advertise vacancies in maintainer assignments only by mentioning the area generally (to prevent "rogue maintainers" from doing work on trails not currently being maintained).  However, once someone expresses interest in maintaining a trail section, the Supervisor or Trails Chair can identify the particular section where a vacancy exists.  Catherine Gemmell proposed that we include the name of the trail in the notice we circulate regarding the vacancy.  After discussion, it was agreed that the current procedure should be retained regarding identification of vacant trail sections, but that rather than supplying detailed information in response to inquiries, staff members should refer the person to the Supervisor or Trails Chair responsible for that section.


                   f.  New York State Trails Council.  Jane Daniels explained that she is one of the hiking representatives on the New York State Trails Council, which meets twice a year and contains representatives of three hiking organizations, as well as other user groups.  She pointed out that most of the discussion at meetings of this group is among the non-motorized trail users, although motorized trail users are also represented, and that, in recent years, discussion has been friendly and positive.  She also noted that Hudson Highlands State Park and Fahnestock State Park are managed jointly and are considered a single park by the state, and she pointed out that she is the chair of the Friends of Fahnestock group, which advocates for park funding and provides supplemental funds to help improve the park.


          5.  Trails Policy.  Jane Daniels noted that a draft Trails Policy, which is part of the Strategic Planning process, was distributed to members of the Trails Council, and she invited everyone to review it carefully and get back to her with their comments. It was pointed out that some of the material, including that dealing with geocaching, is new.  She also noted that material dealing with matters of trail management have been taken out of the Trails Policy and will be included in a separate Trail Management Guide that will be submitted to the Trails Council at a later date.  Jane Daniels expressed the hope that the Trails Policy will be approved by the Trails Council at its December meeting.


          Jane Daniels also pointed out that we will be forming a committee to review trail standards and develop the trail assessment process, and she noted that this would be an opportunity for a new group of people to get involved with trails.  Brenda Holzinger explained that it was important to maintain consistency in the assessment process, and she noted that all of the data would be entered into a GPS receiver.


          6.  Trail Approvals.  The following new trails and reroutes were presented:


                   a.   Reroute of Buckabear Pond Trail in Newark Watershed.   Bob Jonas and Estelle Anderson presented a request to reroute portions of the red-blazed Buckabear Pond Trail in the Newark Watershed, which extends from parking area P3 on Clinton Road to the dam at the south end of Buckabear Pond. They explained that the lower section of this trail was originally built as a temporary trail to provide more direct access to the dam, but that the entire trail is now part of the official trail network of the Newark Watershed and is shown on trail maps.  They also pointed out that the reroute of the Bearfort Waters/Clinton Trail along the west side of Buckabear Pond is about two-thirds completed.  In response to a question by Jane Daniels as to whether the proposed reroute of the Buckabear Pond Trail had been approved by the landowner (the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation), it was stated that such approval had not yet been received.

          After discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the proposed reroute of the Buckabear Pond Trail be approved by the Trails Council, subject to the approval of the reroute by the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation.


                   b.  Belt Trail in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  Josie Gray and Hormoz Kheirabi requested approval for the new Belt Trail in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  They explained that this trail, to be located in the southeast corner of the park, will begin at the southern end of the Blue Trail, follow the west side of Gilmore Pond, and ultimately continue to Spy Rock.  They pointed out that the half-mile-long northern section of the Belt Trail, which connects the Blue Trail with the Red Trail near Raven Rocks, has already been cleared.  They also noted that two routes between Castle Rock and Spy Rock have been flagged and GPS'd, and that this section will be about half a mile long.  They commented that, accordingly to park protocol, the Belt Trail will be blazed white because it is a secondary trail. 


          Josie Gray and Hormoz Kheirabi discussed the enormous amount of work accomplished by volunteers at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and explained that their team approach to stewarding the entire park is extremely effective.  Jane Daniels discussed the history of the trails at Ward Pound Ridge and explained that many of these trails are routed along old woods roads. 


          After discussion, Sandy Parr moved that the Belt Trail in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation be approved by the Trails Council.   Bob Jonas seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.


          7.  Proposal to Allow Bicycles on Ski Trails at State Line Lookout.  Jakob Franke explained that the staff of the New Jersey Section of the Palisades Interstate Park has proposed to allow bicycles on the network of about four miles of cross-country ski trails adjacent to State Line Lookout.  He pointed out that these trails are maintained by the park and that most follow old woods roads that are at least six feet wide.  He also pointed out that a half-mile-long section of the Long Path just south of State Line Lookout has recently been rerouted off Old Route 9W and onto a newly constructed section of ski trail, but he noted that this trail section is wide and relatively level, and that he believed that it could accommodate bicycles without damaging the treadway.  He did note that there is a wet area in this section that could be problematic for bicycles, but he pointed out that if this proves to a be a problem, the Long Path can easily be rerouted back to the Old Route 9W.  He also pointed out that, at each end of this section of the Long Path, there is a steep, rocky section that would be unsuitable for bicycles.


          John Mack suggested that "no bikes" signs be installed wherever trails open to bicycles intersect hiking trails on which bicycles are not allowed.  John Moran commented that the police regularly patrol the stretch of road leading to the State Line Lookout, which is adjacent to each end of the section of the Long Path that runs along the cross-country ski trails.                                           


          After discussion, Sandy Parr moved that the Trails Council does not object to the proposal of the staff of the New Jersey Section of the Palisades Interstate Park to allow bicycles on the network of ski trails adjacent to State Line Lookout, provided that appropriate signage is installed.  John Moran seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

          8.  Volunteer T-Shirts.  Catherine Gemmell announced that new Trail Conference volunteer t-shirts are available for crews and maintainers.  She explained that Trail Chairs and Supervisors could sign out t-shirts for their volunteers by size and amount, and then send the names and sizes back to Catherine for Trail Conference records.   She also noted that t-shirts are available for pick-up at the front desk for those who ordered them from her in advance.  Jane Daniels pointed out how important these t-shirts are as a marketing tool for the Trail Conference and as a method of thanking our volunteers.  The Trails Council briefly discussed whether Trail Conference member clubs are entitled to receive t-shirts.  It was noted that there may not be enough t-shirts if they are given to all club maintainers, and it was agreed that all those who volunteer directly for the Trail Conference should get their t-shirts first, and if there are t-shirts left over, they can be given to club maintainers.


          9.  Plan and Budget.  Larry Wheelock discussed the Trail Conference's financial situation as of the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year, which concludes on September 30.  He explained that the Trail Conference experienced a deficit this year in the tentative amount of $132,849 on a cash basis, and he stated that this is believed to be the first year that the Trail Conference has ever experienced a deficit.  He  pointed out that about $215,000 of our annual income comes from membership dues, and he also discussed the difference between restricted and unrestricted income, and how these two sources of income affect work done by the Trail Conference.  Larry Wheelock stated that, during the past year, unrestricted donations were down about 60%, although he commented that, at present, they may be at a level of 40% below last year's figures.


          Larry Wheelock explained, that during the past fiscal year, the number of Trail Conference staff was reduced from 12 to 8, although he stated that there are plans to hire a new East Hudson Regional Representative, which would bring the staff total to 9.  Jane Daniels and Larry Wheelock explained that the East Hudson Regional Representative position is completely funded through restricted funds, which is the reason why it is possible for us to fill this position at this time.  However, they noted, we currently do not have funds to hire a New Jersey Regional Representative.  It was noted that Larry Wheelock has shifted his focus to Special Projects so that a portion of his salary can be covered by grants, but it was stated that, during the coming fiscal year, he will be able to spend at least half of his time doing Regional Representative work.


          Larry Wheelock pointed out that, due to its funding shortfalls, New York state might cut back its grant funding next year.  He noted that this was of great concern to the Trail Conference because we rely heavily on grants to complete trail building projects.  He suggested that our volunteers advocate strongly for funding of the New York Environmental Protection Fund and Recreational Trails grants.


          10.  Advocacy.  Brenda Holzinger briefly reviewed her "speaking up for trails" presentation at the August Trails Council meeting.  She reminded New Jersey residents about the importance of voting "yes" on Public Question #1 for continued open space preservation in the state.  She also renewed her suggestion that Trails Council members contact their elected representatives and write letters to the editor in support of the ATV registration and enforcement legislation currently pending in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly.


          11.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.


                                                                             Respectfully submitted,



                                                                             Daniel D. Chazin

                                                                             (based in part on notes by Brenda Holzinger)