NJ Senate Resolution Backs Rancocas Creek Water Trail Efforts

The resolution, sponsored by state Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, supports the efforts of the nonprofit Rancocas Pathways to earn the creek the national designation.

The New Jersey Senate is gearing up to consider a resolution to urge the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to designate Rancocas Creek as National Water Trail.

The resolution, sponsored by state Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, supports the efforts of the nonprofit Rancocas Pathways. Westampton resident John Anderson founded Rancocas Pathways to help earn the creek the national designation. The exclusive distinction is created by the secretary of the interior through an act of Congress.

The application process is extensive, Anderson said. The nonprofit applied last year, but was instructed to revise its proposal to include a map of the water trail, plans to implement outreach programs, and add trail markers. Rancocas Pathways intends to re-apply in November.

There are 21 National Water Trails, with the closest being the Bronx River Blueway in New York. The Rancocas would be the first in New Jersey.

“The Rancocas Creek is a natural treasure nestled within Burlington County, one that serves as a vital ecosystem for the many native species that make it their home,” Singleton said. “But more than being an environmental jewel, it is also an important piece of Burlington County’s rich history. Once used by Native Americans and early settlers, it is still a destination today for many who consider it a recreational wonderland.”

Rancocas Creek flows through the bulk of Burlington County, from deep in the Pinelands to the Delaware River. It is home to wildlife like painted and box turtles, white-tailed deer, beavers, herons, kingfishers, wood ducks, mallards and Canada geese.

But animals aren’t the only ones who enjoy the creek’s offerings: The waterway is regularly used for kayaking and recreational water sports as well as outdoor community events. There are picnic facilities and play areas for families looking to spend time outdoors.

If the creek is designated as a National Water Trail, advocates hope it will boost tourism and use.

The trail program was established by the National Park Service. The National Trails System protects and restores waterways nationwide and promotes outdoor recreation.

“There is this energy generated by this lively debate. So to me and others working on the nomination, a fine ‘tip of the hat,’” Anderson said.

The resolution passed through the state Senate Environmental and Energy Committee earlier this week by a 5-0 vote. It will head to the full Senate for further consideration.

In 2016, then state Sen. Diane Allen, R-7th of Edgewater Park, and Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14th of Plainsboro, sponsored a similar resolution in support of the creek’s proposed National Water Trail designation which passed in June 2017.

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