Trail Worker Award

This award recognizes an individual that has made outstanding contributions and provided consistent support for trail planning, development, or maintenance. It is intended to recognize the efforts of a private or public sector individual working for enhanced trail recreation on either the local, state, or national level.

 

New Jersey: Lew Gorman

Cherry Hill Township is proud to nominate Lew Gorman III for the Trail Worker Category of the 2010 National Trails Awards.

His unwavering, dependable, and steady leadership is clearly the reason Cherry Hill, NJ now has a trail system. His outstanding contributions in the areas of trail planning, trail development, and trail maintenance created over 10 miles of new trails using and opening Open Space lands. Prior to Lew embarking on the challenge to develop a trail system for the township, Cherry Hill had only one off-road trail and that was less than ¼ mile and in poor condition. He significantly enhanced trail recreation for this town of over 70,000 that has long served as Southern New Jersey's commercial center.

Lew’s commitment to the planning and development of a Cherry Hill trail system is rooted in his love of the environment, strong desire to connect people with nature, dedication to public service, and application of his formal natural resource education, all coupled with significant leadership and managerial experience.

In his role as the Chair of the Cherry Hill Environmental Advisory Committee (CHEAC), the township’s environmental body, an all-volunteer organization, he realized that developing a system of trails on the township’s Open Space lands was a perfect opportunity to meet the township’s master plan trail currently unmet requirement for recreational trails, connect people with nature, and appropriate link residents to the their Open Space lands. Lew was moved by Richard Louv’s speech and book, Last Child in the Woods, that illustrated how people, especially kids, were loosing contact with nature. Creating marked and maintained trails through woods, fields, and along streams and lakes would give residents and others an opportunity to connect with nature. Continued support for Open Space funding would be enhanced if residents who fund the land purchases could use the land and still keep it in natural state. The NJ Trails Plan promotes trails on municipal Open Space land. With a vision in place Lew began the trail planning process.

He inventoried likely Open Space parcels for criteria including public access to trailheads, existing volunteer paths, environmental variety, and opportunities for nature trails development. He measured each potential trail by walking and measuring with a wheeled measuring device borrowed from the town’s department of public works. After researching the NJ Trails Plan, and gathering input from the Camden County Environmental Commission, he developed the Cherry Hill Trails Plan. Trail diagrams accompanied the plan. CHEAC finalized the document and submitted it to the Mayor and Council. Phased trail development was decided upon. Lew began immediately to initiate development on phase one trails.

Obtaining resources for trail development was the first step. Lew worked closely with the Mayor’s Office, and the Departments of Recreation and Public Works. Funding for signage was arranged through the Recreation Department’s operational budget. However, larger amounts were needed for some trail development. He drafted a grant application to the Camden County Environmental Commission and the township received the maximum authorized for Open Space Development grants; $25,000. This helped fund the development of a significant trail system along the Pennsauken River’s South Branch. Funds are needed for professional engineer support for mapping and bridge construction, and NJ Department of Environmental Protection permits. This effort continues with Lew fully engaged.

Learning of the NJ Department of Transportation program to fund trails, he drafted a grant application. The proposal was refining with input from the Director of Recreation and submitted in December 2009 to support the enhancement of trailheads and trail resources.

To offer opportunities for youth conservation and personal development, Lew tapped his experience as a Scoutmaster coaching many Scouts to earn their Eagle Scout Award. He designed projects to aid the Cherry Hill Trails Plan implementation. Five Eagle Scout projects were completed on Cherry Hill trails. Two more are planned. These completed projects helped develop the two nature trails; while others enhanced two Cherry Hill Phase I trails. He created nature trail guides to accompany each nature trail.

Involving people in community service conservation projects has shown to be effective in connecting people with nature. Lew linked Cherry Hill with National Public Lands Day for four consecutive years, with the last two year’s using community participants to work on trail development. Lew forged an agreement between Cherry Hill Township and the NJ Youth Corps, Camden County branch. Composed of primarily disadvantaged kids, he led their efforts in trail development and maintenance.

His outstanding contributions are worthy of the Trail Worker award for the state of New Jersey. His dedicated and effective community service for trail development has clearly set the example and the standard. He has established an initiative, momentum, and a direction that resulted in four fully developed Phase I trails as of May 31, 2010, and that will guide the development the remaining trails contained in the Cherry Hill Trails Plan.

Cherry Hill Township is fortunate to have him as our lead “Trail Worker”, and proud to have a professional and extensive network of trails.