MAINTAINING HIKING TRAILS IN MENDHAM TOWNSHIP
MAINTAINING HIKING TRAILS IN MENDHAM TOWNSHIP
Mendham Township has over 60-miles of hiking trails, mostly Township hiking trails on Township open space properties, but also trails by Morris Country (e.g, Patriots’ Path), and others. We also have Schiff Natural Lands, a private non-profit with many hiking trails in town. Township DPW routinely performs major work on the open space properties and trails but may not tend to all aspects.
There is a township group of volunteer Trail Stewards, organized by the Township Environmental Commission, to help maintain hiking trails. There are also some residents who informally help to maintain some trails, picking up litter as they hike and doing some minor trimming and such. It is important that ALL volunteers working on trails work safely and conform to appropriate requirements when working on property owned by others, such as Mendham Township or owned by other government or private organizations. The requirements for Trail Stewards, which should also be observed by any residents or hikers informally helping to keep township trails clear, are as follows:
OVERALL: Duties in summary are to safely and responsibly perform light, routine maintenance, to help keep existing hiking trails in Mendham Township open and easy to hike. No heavy work nor new construction should be done.
Specific duties include:
TRIMMING: Trimming back small shoots and small branches that intrude into a trail, to maintain an open trail cross-section roughly 7-feet high and generally about 3 - 4 feet wide (may vary for some trails initially wider or more narrow per Township intent), for hikers on foot to pass.
TOOLS: Use only hand-operated tools such as cutters, hedge shears, lopping shears, hand saws, etc. Chain saws might be permitted by exception and only with the explicit knowledge of trail steward leadership.
LITTER: Picking up litter and removing it from the property for proper disposal.
TRAIL BLAZES: Refreshing or augmenting trail blazes on existing or new trails is permitted only with permission of the Environmental Commission via their designated leader of the trail stewards, and only after training and orientation to standards, requirements, and practices for blazing township trails. Trail blazing must conform to township requirements and standards.
SIGNS, BRIDGES, ETC.: Signs, bridges, board walks over wet areas, and all other such constructed facilities may only be installed, repaired, or replaced with the knowledge and approval of the Mendham Township Environmental Commission. The work is usually done by the Township DPW or via approved Boy Scout projects, town-approved contracts, etc.. Volunteers helping to maintain trails and seeing any signs, bridges, or other constructed facilities needing repair, replacement, or augmentation, should report it to the Environmental Commission for action.
PROBLEMS BEYOND ROUTINE DUTES: Reporting any problems or needed work requiring larger resources or effort, to be done by DPW or others, such as clearing large trees blocking hiking trails (not small trees that can be easily stepped over), repairing wash-outs or needing re-grading, area treatment of invasive vegetation, resurfacing trails, mowing, weed whacking, signage, etc.
OTHER PROBLEMS: Report any signs of problems, vandalism, or unlawful activity, including:
- broken or damaged township assets (trails, signs, bridges, fences, etc.) needing repair or replacement,
- faded or inadequate trail blazing or signage,
- use of motorized vehicles (such as ATVs, motorized cycles, or other recreational vehicles, snow mobiles, etc.),
- use of horses or bicycles, instead of “foot traffic only”,
- concentrated littering as from groups or recurring group use,
- open fires,
- harming of vegetation,
- hunting, trapping or harming wild life (excluding licensed hunters that are permitted to hunt by the township on specified schedules),
- unauthorized bridges or other structures, etc.
- any other problems that may be harmful to the environment or hikers, or represent improper or unauthorized use of Township property.
- WILDLIFE: Report any large wildlife observed (e.g., bears), and any wildlife observed to behave aggressively, or that appears wounded, diseased, etc.
- Always observing and conforming to Mendham Township rules, signs, ordinances, and standards for Township property.
- Always observing and conforming to town and Morris County rules, standards, and ordinances on County Patriots’ Path trails.
- Always conforming to NJ DEP and Mendham Township requirements for environmental protection, protected animal and plant species, water quality, etc.
Problems or questions can be directed to the Environmental Commission or to DPW via the office staff in town hall.