The Musconetcong becomes newest designated National Recreational Trail

Congress designates the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail to safely increase public access to outdoor recreational opportunities

 

Asbury, NJ  Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt designated the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail to the National Trails System.  This designation comes from the National Trails Act of 1968, which calls for establishing trails in both rural and urban areas.

“I am so pleased that the Musconetcong River has been has been recognized by the US Department of the Interior,” said James Kern, Warren County Freeholder, “The tireless work of the MWA’s staff and volunteers has no doubt lead to this worthy designation.  Warren County will continue to support efforts and partner with all stakeholders to protect this scenic and recreational natural resource.”

The Musconetcong National Watershed Trail provides information on 11 water trail trips, which can be combined into longer trips.  This includes four trips on Lake Hopatcong, one trip on Lake Musconetcong, and six trips on the Musconetcong River, including the possibility for overnight camping at Stephens State Park.  Joining this network of trails helps promote the preservation and public access of our outdoor spaces.  Before next summer, look for signs along the river indicating access points for the Water Trail.

“We thank Secretary Bernhardt for recognizing the beauty and recreational opportunities in the Musconetcong Watershed.  We hope the National Water trail designation encourages people to enjoy, be inspired by, and ultimately engage with us in protecting our region’s rustic and rural character.  The National Water Trail designation will help raise awareness of tourism opportunities that support regional economic development goals of our County partners,” said Alan Hunt, Director of Policy at Musconetcong Watershed Association.

The Musconetcong River, which is also a National Wild & Scenic River, flows for 42 miles from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River.  Surrounded by rugged Highland ridges, the river flows by state and county parks, historic hamlets, nature preserves, and one of the region’s most scenic agricultural valleys.

“We’re fortunate in Warren County to be able to welcome residents and visitors to explore our natural spaces, like the Musconetcong corridor.  This federal designation will help bring attention to this resource and all the great work the MWA is doing to protect the river while promoting sustainable uses that benefit the region,” said Art Charlton, Director, Explore Warren County Tourism Partnership. “It’s more important than ever right now to help people find the natural areas that provide soul-nourishing outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Joining this network of trails helps promote the preservation and public access of our outdoor spaces.  Look for signs along the river and nearby watershed areas denoting this new status.  The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA), along with partners from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF), Warren County, and Mohawk Canoe Club have been working together to create a National Water Trails brochure and online interactive story map to help locate the over 50 public access points.

“We are pleased to have collaborated with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and the other partners on this water trails project and look forward to future cooperative efforts,” said Cliff Lundin, Lake Hopatcong Foundation recreational trails committee chair. “This prestigious national designation recognizes Lake Hopatcong as a primary recreational waterways, not only with the Musconetcong Watershed, but within the nation.”

“I am thrilled to hear of The Musconetcong Water Trail’s national designation,” said Anthony Fasano, Sussex County Freeholder. “Our beautiful natural resources, right here in our backyards, deserve this designation as it will rightfully spotlight our region’s natural beauty and bolster our tourism efforts for years to come.”

Through partnership, MWA and LHF are a shared managing agency of the Musconetcong National Water Trail.  As our headwaters, Lake Hopatcong has significant public access points for recreation in and around the lake.

“This rare designation was the result enormous efforts from all levels of government, federal, state, county to local municipalities,” said Steven Rattner, Morris County Planning Board, “All of this would have not been possible without the labor and financial support of numerous not for profits, sportsmen groups, environmental groups and foundations.  When partnerships like this gel, everything is possible and the public benefits.”

The National Trails System encourages those of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities to explore and appreciate this system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails.

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MWA Mission: The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its Watershed, including its natural and cultural resources.  To view the Musconetcong National Water Trail map online, visit www.musconetcong.org.

LHF Mission: The Lake Hopatcong Foundation dedicates itself to protecting the lake environment and enhancing the lake experience, bringing together public and private resources to encourage a culture of sustainability and stewardship on and around New Jersey’s largest lake, for this and future generations.

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