Volunteer organization keeping trails clear for Cherry Hill residents

The Cherry Hill Trail Crew is continuing to beautify the township’s trail system as officials look for ways to enhance alternative transportation in town.

Volunteers help build a trail at Croft Farm in 2015.

On the second Saturday of any month, Cherry Hill residents may spot a team of people wearing orange shirts along one of the township’s 10 trails.

This team, called the Cherry Hill Trail Crew, is an all-volunteer program tasked with maintaining the township’s trail system. The crew maintains the trail system and with a greater emphasis on alternative transportation taking place across the region, the trail crew’s job is becoming more important.

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This time of year is usually a busy one for the trail crew. With trees and plants growing in the late spring and early summer weather, the crew spends a lot of time keeping the local trails clear.

“It’s a lot of the general maintenance.,” said Jay Jones, a Cherry Hill resident and founder of the Cherry Hill Trail Crew. “Especially this time of year where everything grows across the trail.”

The trail crew will also create new trails at times. One of the most recent additions to the system was a 0.85-mile trail created two years ago to join five other paths at the Bunker Hill Trails.

The crew is also adding global positioning software capability to some of its trails. GPS maps for the Bunker Hills and Kresson trails are now available to hikers.

Jones also feels more people are volunteering with the trail crew and using the trails than in the past.

“We’ve improved where a greater number of residents are aware that we have trails,” he said. “You get people to work and maintain a trail. Now they have a personal relationship with that.”

Jones volunteers for a number of organizations, including Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go task force and the Circuit Trails Coalition, a group providing hundreds of miles of connected trails throughout the Philadelphia region. An avid biker, Jones embraces alternative transportation and is passionate about encouraging Cherry Hill residents to walk or ride a bike around town.

Jones is working on getting Cherry Hill more connected with the circuit trails. The Circuit Trails Coalition is hoping to get 750 miles of interconnected trails developed around the Philadelphia region over the next couple of decades. The circuit trails consist of a combination of bike trails and alternative transportation routes. The goal of the circuit trail system is to provide people with a means to travel from community to community within the region through walking, biking or another form of alternative transportation.

Jones said he is working with Cherry Hill Township officials to get council to pass a resolution in support of the circuit trails. A portion of the circuit trails goes through Cherry Hill, and Jones hopes to explore opportunities to extend the circuit trail further into the township.

“We’re looking more regionally at how our trails and alternative transportation routes connect with the circuit trail coalition,” Jones said.

Residents who wish to volunteer with the trail crew can fill out an application at www.cherryhilltrailcrew.com. Tools and equipment are provided for volunteers.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” Jones said. “We provide everything they need.”

“We extend further if someone lives near one of the local trail systems and they can become a local ambassador,” Jones added.

The next second Saturday clean up is scheduled for July 8 at the Bunker Hill trails. Volunteers will be meeting near the Sheri playground on Bunker Hill Drive at 9 a.m. Visit www.cherryhilltrailcrew.com for more information.

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