NY, NJ Parks Receive Trail Steward Training

June 29, 2018
Hank Osborn
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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NY, NJ Parks Receive Trail Steward Training
Breakneck Ridge Stewards Training. Photo by Hank Osborn

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As the regional leader in fielding Stewards, the Trail Conference welcomed N.Y. and N.J. state partners to attend our 2018 training.

The Trail Conference began its Trail Steward program as a one-month pilot at Breakneck Ridge in 2013. Since then, the program has grown in numerous ways. The first year we trained two Stewards for one location. This May, the Trail Conference trained 35 Stewards assigned to four locations in two states. Thanks to a generous $30,000 grant from REI, sponsorship from Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT), and gifts from other supporters, this season Trail Conference Stewards are stationed in New York on the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park; at Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve; and at several locations in the Catskills: Giant Ledge, Slide Mountain, North Point, and Blackhead Mountain. In New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection enlisted the Trail Conference for guidance on best practices to deploy their Stewards at Terrace Pond in Wawayanda State Park. Stewards in all locations are on duty from Memorial Day weekend through November (earlier at some spots).

The Trail Conference is recognized as the regional leader in fielding Stewards; our N.Y. and N.J. state partners sent more than a dozen park employees to the full-day training at our headquarters in Mahwah, N.J., and to site-specific locations for each Steward program. State employees were trained to work alongside Trail Conference Stewards, supplementing and complementing the hard work required at each location. At Breakneck Ridge, N.Y. State Parks employees are now working alongside Trail Conference Stewards every weekend; at Terrace Pond, N.J. State Stewards assist visitors, protect the area from dumping, and educate the public about park regulations.

Steward training was enhanced this year to include more in-depth Leave No Trace training, as well as natural resource protection instruction provided by HHLT. Besides providing financial sponsorship of the Breakneck Ridge Trail Steward program, HHLT helped facilitate Steward education to promote conservation ethics and proper stewardship practices.

In June, the Trail Conference welcomed a small team from New York State’s Excelsior Corps program. These Corps members were stationed at Breakneck Ridge for 10 days, which allowed us to conduct surveys of the increasing number of hikers who are climbing Breakneck during the week. The Excelsior Corps will return to work alongside Trail Conference Stewards for another 10 days at Breakneck during the 2018 Leave No Trace Hot Spot week in late October.

Later this summer, the Trail Conference will introduce a volunteer Trail Steward component to complement the current program and provide much-needed additional coverage at these high-usage trailheads. For more details, email [email protected].

Thank You, Supporters!

For the third year, REI has generously given lead support to make the Trail Conference’s Steward Program possible. This year, we also thank:

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