Support for Our Work Creates Better Experiences in Nature

July 14, 2021
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Support for Our Work Creates Better Experiences in Nature
Catskill Trail Steward site. Photo by Claire McMahon.


Thanks to the following organizations and foundations for supporting the work of the Trail Conference in 2021. 


Trail Conference Stewards are ambassadors for the safe and responsible enjoyment of nature. Our Stewards have been bringing face-to-face user education and sustainable, on-the-ground solutions to some of the region’s most popular outdoor destinations since 2013.

We are grateful for the generosity of those who have made this year’s Trail Steward season possible:


The Trail Conference is grateful for the support of the Dodge Foundation to help us connect the people of New Jersey with nature, engage volunteers in stewardship of public land, protect open space, and improve public access to trails. The grant is an investment in our shared goal of improving the quality of life in communities and creating better outdoor opportunities for all New Jerseyans. 

Our thanks goes to Orange & Rockland/Rockland Electric for a grant supporting trail construction and improvements throughout popular parks in New Jersey, including Ramapo Reservation, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, and Norvin Green State Forest. This gift also allows us to improve trails, signage, and promotion of the Highlands Trail in the O&R service area.


As the Trail Conference enters its second century of service, the demands on trails and the impacts users are having on the natural areas surrounding trails has grown tremendously.

We will be enhancing our efforts to ensure that open spaces are not only protected for people to enjoy, but also more accessible. The Trail Conference is grateful for the continued funding from REI and a grant to support our BOOTS (Better Outdoor Opportunities Through Stewardship) program. With REI’s partnership, we will work to ensure that barriers to outdoor recreation are identified and real action is implemented.

One of the most significant projects in this effort is our involvement in the Open Spaces for All initiative. Through our participation on the steering committee of the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition (NYORC), we received a grant from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust to support the development of strategic priorities for improving and enhancing equity, access, and inclusion in New York State’s park and open space system. In partnership with the Open Space Institute, it is our goal through NYORC for this initiative to advance the state’s commitment to making parks and open spaces more inclusive, welcoming, and accessible while protecting land and improving access and management for recreational uses.


In partnership with the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Trail Conference has been using the rustic Welch Trail Education Center in Harriman State Park to house crews working in the area for more than a decade. In 2019, we received a matching grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund Grant Program for Parks, Preservation, and Heritage to not only restore, but also expand the camp for educational purposes. The grant covers some, but not all, of the funding. Thanks to a generous donation by Pete Heckler, vital needs of restoring this historic camp, as well as the construction of a new classroom building that will be used for Conservation Corps, volunteer, and staff training, can continue to progress.