About Us

The Story of How Open Trails NJ Came to Be

Rewind to July 2015. Believe it or not, none of us knew each other. We were all just enjoying our respective hobbies in the forest, until we all noticed those, now infamous, brown signs and blocked trails showing up all over Wharton State Forest.  These signs and blockages appeared with no warning and with no dialog with the public.

One of us set up a Facebook event, calling for a meeting at the Red Lion Inn to discuss. Word of the meeting spread and 50 people attended, including some of whom went on to become the OTNJ team. We may have never met otherwise, save maybe a friendly nod or wave as we passed by one another on the trail.

After the meeting, we stayed in touch, using social media to make connections.  Our network began to grow, hunting groups, outdoor groups, 4×4 clubs, etc.  The idea of a group was devised to organize our efforts. Someone came up with idea of “Open Trails NJ” and the group was born.  But there was so much to do and learn…..

The next two months were a whirlwind of activity:  Creating petitions, launching a website, attending town meetings, becoming a non profit, meeting with Senators, interviewing with the media.  In a very short time, this grassroots movement started to make a difference:  9 towns passed resolutions in opposition to the M.A.P.,  the Facebook group passed 6,500 members, the petition passed 4,800 signatures, State Senators sent letters of support, the DEP pulled the M.A.P. off their webpage and apologized for the lack of public input.

If you could have gone back in time and told any of us all of this would come to be in 2 months, we would have never believed you!

We’ve put together an amazingly diverse team,  in the activities we represent, the skills each member brings to the table, from all age groups and walks of life. We are not selfish activists, we are not professional lobbyists. Open Trails NJ is not a deep pocketed self interest group. We are a group of honest citizens: hikers, hunters, enduro riders, geocachers, 4×4 enthusiests, kayakers, horseback riders, photographers and even environmentalists who want help solve the problems facing the forest while keeping it open for responsible recreation.  We all view this as a long term endeavor.  We have created this group for a common cause and that common cause will continue beyond the immediate obstacles in front of us.

Most importantly of all, we could not have done all this without your help.  Thank you for your continued support!