“This natural disaster caused a lot of hurt throughout our region, but the irony is that nature can help us heal from this tragedy. That’s why we need to make these trails accessible again as soon as possible.”
Matawan, NJ (PRWEB) December 06, 2012
Like many residents of Matawan, NJ, Jarred Shaw often hikes the trails of Cheesequake State Park. But unlike most other users, Shaw built some of those trails as a volunteer leader with the Student Conservation Association. And now, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Shaw is leading a crew of SCA specialists to Cheesequake and other New Jersey State Parks to help clear thousands of downed trees and limbs.
For over a month, virtually every trail in Cheesequake as well as Allaire, Hacklebarney, Round Valley and Voorhees State Parks and Stokes State Forest has been closed by an impassable tangle of timber beyond the capacity of park staffs to manage on their own. SCA, a national youth conservation organization whose high school-aged volunteers support New Jersey state parks each summer, has dispatched a response team of Shaw and four others with advanced chainsaw certifications to spend the next two weeks going from park to park, cutting and removing the most troublesome trees.
“This natural disaster caused a lot of hurt throughout our region,” Shaw notes, “but the irony is that nature can help us heal from this tragedy. That’s why we need to make these trails accessible again as soon as possible.” Shaw indicates experienced outdoor staff from SCA’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and national training center in Charlestown, NH, as well as SCA alumni from the Jersey area, will periodically augment the chainsaw crew between now and December 19th.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks & Forestry is coordinating this effort with SCA and values the partnership, which is bringing additional skill and commitment to restoring New Jersey’s state parks and forests after the devastating storm.
The Student Conservation Association is dedicated to building the next generation of conservation leaders by providing 15-25 year olds with hands-on service and job training opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. Last summer, dozens of high school students from Newark, and elsewhere constructed new trails and maintained existing routes in Allaire, Cheesequake, Round Valley and Voorhees State Parks. Shaw led the crew at Cheesequake, one of 10 SCA teams he’s supervised to date.
“This hits home for me, no doubt about it, and we’re here to do as much as we can,” says Shaw, a soft-spoken Rutgers graduate whose 5’4” frame belies a steely strength and determination. “As far as the damages goes, we may not get these parks entirely out of the woods. But we’ll certainly make sure that people can get back into the woods.”
Since 1957, the Student Conservation Association has inspired more than 70,000 young people to lifelong stewardship and sustainability and provided many with career training and opportunities. SCA is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. and maintains regional offices in Boise, ID, Charlestown, NH, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Seattle, WA. For more, logon at http://www.thesca.org.