Public Invited to Comment on Appalachian Trail Reroute Proposal

June 22, 2018
Press Release
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

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Public Invited to Comment on Appalachian Trail Reroute Proposal
Partners discuss the Appalachian Trail Reroute through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Peter Dolan.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on the proposed A.T. reroute through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the release of the Environmental Assessment for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail reroute through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. The Service plans to move a portion of the A.T. where it crosses the Wallkill River via Oil City Road in Orange County, N.Y., and relocate the Trail within the Refuge in Sussex County, N.J. The National Park Service is participating as a cooperating agency for this project. The agencies are soliciting comments through July 20, 2018.

The purpose of the project is to provide Trail and Refuge visitors a safe and more aesthetically pleasing alternative for crossing the Wallkill River that is in keeping with the desired experience for those hiking the Trail. The length of the Trail proposed for realignment is approximately 1.3 miles. This segment contains one of the longest sections of the Trail that co-aligns with a public roadway, Oil City Road, a two-lane road with little to no shoulder. As development in the surrounding area continues to increase, the number of cars on Oil City Road is likely to increase, causing additional safety concerns to hikers. Oil City Road and the Trail also currently experience floods and overland flow, which affects the safety and accessibility for Trail and Refuge visitors. Further, this road walk does not provide maximum outdoor recreation potential, one of the objectives for National Scenic Trails, as stated in the National Trails System Act (16 USC 1241-51).

Public participation is an important element of the planning process, and all agencies involved welcome your comments and ideas on the environmental assessment. The document can be viewed by visiting the Refuge website.  Please share your written comments no later than July 20, 2018 via one of the following methods:

Email comments to: [email protected]

Mail or hand-deliver comments to:
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Attn: Appalachian Trail Reroute
1547 Route 565
Sussex, NJ 07461

This project will do away with the Appalachian Trail's longest road walk in the state of New Jersey, replacing it with a boardwalk and bridge through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to making the Trail safer for hikers, the natural beauty and wildlife-watching potential of the Refuge will make it a massive asset to the Trail. If Pochuck Boardwalk is anything to go by, this will be an enormously popular new stretch of the Trail for all to enjoy. And similar to the Pochuck Boardwalk, Trail Conference volunteers are looking forward to helping with boardwalk construction. Stay tuned for future updates and volunteer opportunities!

 

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