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Boonton Reservoir Trail to be Named in Honor of Community Activist Kim Wentworth

Trail project part of larger Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Initiative led by the Open Space Institute and Morris County

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BOONTON — The Open Space Institute (OSI) announced that the planned trail circling the Boonton Reservoir will be named for community activist and environmental leader, Kim Wentworth. The new trail is a feature element of a public-private partnership between the Open Space Institute (OSI) and Morris County. The 7-mile loop trail, part of the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail project, will be named the “Kim M. Wentworth Family Trail.” Once built, the trail will become a landmark recreational space in the heart of Boonton and Parsippany-Troy Hills Townships.

A pre-existing trail on the northeast side of the Boonton Reservoir will be the starting point for the construction of a seven-mile passive recreation trail. Photo credit: Jack Morningstar, courtesy of The Open Space Institute.

Named in honor of Kim Wentworth, a lifelong New Jersey resident, community advocate, and environmentalist, the trail represents Wentworth’s dedication to promoting greater access to nature for all people. The trail showcases breathtaking views of Boonton Reservoir and offers ample opportunities to view the region’s diverse bird population.

“Naming the trail in honor of Kim Wentworth is a heartfelt recognition of her extraordinary dedication,” said OSI president emeritus, Kim Elliman, who recently retired from the organization. “From her vision for the Boonton Reservoir to tireless advocacy, Kim’s pivotal role in bringing this project to OSI cannot be overstated. The Kim M. Wentworth Family Trail is a testament to her vision, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to expanding public access and securing clean drinking water for this community.”

“The Kim M. Wentworth Family Trail showcases the possibilities of lasting change and the lifting of a community when public and private entities join forces to create opportunities for people to connect with nature and each other,” said Erik Kulleseid, OSI President and CEO. “This trail will welcome people and families as they explore the beauty of the Boonton Reservoir and will serve as a place to find respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature.”

Boonton Reservoir. Photo credit Dallas Hetherington

Kim Wentworth is a champion for open spaces, outdoor recreation, and environmental conservation. She holds a position on the board of the Community Foundation of New Jersey and is a co-founder of Friends of Jockey Hollow. During her tenure as Commissioner of the Morris County Park Commission, Kim demonstrated exceptional leadership in strategic planning and financial management. She played a pivotal role in establishing a partnership with the Open Space Trust Fund, furthering the cause of protecting and enhancing our natural landscape.

“The peace and solitude that open space offers, especially in a densely populated area is a balm to the soul. The true value of opening this outstanding Reservoir setting to the public will be the happiness and health it brings to our community and future generations,” said Kim Wentworth. “This new 1,300+ acre park at Boonton Reservoir in North New Jersey would not have been achieved without the leadership and working knowledge of Open Space Institute.”

“Thank you so much to all of the individuals, organizations, and elected officials who have played essential parts in making this project possible—especially the Open Space Institute for supporting our local efforts to expand recreational space in New Jersey. It is wonderful to see the Boonton Reservoir trail named in honor of Kim Wentworth and her longtime advocacy for this project. I am proud to have worked with OSI and the Morris County Park Commission to secure federal funding through the Community Projects program to help move this forward. I know it will be a seamless handoff to Morris County and I cannot wait to walk the trails and enjoy the beauty of our state when all is completed,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11).  

“In 1999, Park Commissioner Richard Seabury envisioned a trail around the reservoir, drawing upon his deep understanding of the local history and communities. His presentation highlighted the park commission’s nearly 70-year commitment to preserving and stewarding open spaces, safeguarding the Rockaway River. This assurance undoubtedly instilled confidence in Jersey City, ensuring the protection of its primary drinking water sources for residents,” stated David Helmer, Executive Director of the Morris County Park Commission.

OSI spearheaded the development of a comprehensive property management plan for enhancing the Boonton Reservoir, garnering formal approval from the New Jersey City Council after public meetings in 2019. Following two years of extensive site investigations and engineering efforts, OSI unveiled a permit-ready design for the loop trail and water quality enhancements, marking a significant step towards realizing this ambitious public amenity in Morris County.

The 7-mile ‘people-only’ trail will include a suite of sensitively placed improvements built in three phases including three trail entry gates servicing two new parking areas, five scenic overlooks with seating and interpretive signage, several small footbridges and boardwalks, and a new 120’ pedestrian bridge across the outfall of the Reservoir’s historic dam. To ensure improved water quality, the final plan also includes improvements to address drainage and erosion issues including adding native plantings that will help stabilize and filter runoff and create additional wildlife habitat. Once opened, permitted use for the trail will be foot traffic only, including walking, running, and cross-country skiing. Dogs and bicycles are specifically not allowed near the reservoir as a resource protection measure. 

The trail project also demonstrates how public-private partnerships can be leveraged to increase public access to nature, particularly in densely developed areas. With OSI delivering on the design, engineering, and permitting, the Morris County Park Commission will take on the trail’s construction and management.

The Boonton Reservoir, spanning 1,300 acres across Boonton and Parsippany-Troy Hills Townships and fed by the Rockaway River, is crucial for Jersey City’s water supply. In 2018, the Jersey City Council authorized a 40-year recreational lease with the Morris County Park Commission to develop and manage a trail there. OSI, with the assistance of local consultants, created a property management plan framing the project for public use. The plan included provisions for water quality improvements. After public meetings in 2019, the project gained formal approval from the Jersey City Council. In 2021, OSI and partners unveiled the permit-ready design for the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project, proceeding to secure necessary permits and approvals.

OSI’s work on the Boonton Reservoir Enhancement and Trail Development Project has been made possible through public-private partnership and urban-suburban cooperation thanks to Morris County Parks Commission and Mayor Steven Fulop of the City of Jersey City. Leveraged by private investment of $1 million from multiple donors including Atlantic Health System, F. M. Kirby Foundation, General New Jersey Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, The Henrietta McPherson Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, The Luzzi Family, The Randy & Barbara Ann Frankel Foundation, S. Dillard & Adrienne Kirby Family Philanthropic Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Kim and Finn Wentworth. Made possible through public-private partnership and urban-suburban cooperation with thanks to Morris County Parks Commission and Mayor Steven Fulop of the City of Jersey City. With additional support provided by: Representative Mikie Sherrill through the Environmental Protection Agency New Jersey Highlands Council and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills.

The Open Space Institute is a national leader in land conservation and efforts to make parks and other protected land more welcoming for all. Since 1974, OSI has partnered in the protection of more than 2.5 million at-risk and environmentally sensitive acres in the eastern U.S. and Canada. Over the past 19 years, OSI has worked to protect more than 21,000 acres of New Jersey farms, forests, and local parkland within the Highlands, the Pinelands, the Bayshore, and the heavily developed northeastern suburbs. In addition to the Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project, OSI’s current projects in New Jersey include efforts to create the Northern New Jersey Greenway, formerly known as the Essex Hudson Greenway, a nine-mile linear park located just across the Hudson River from Manhattan with generous support from the Thomas L. Kempner Jr. Foundation.

Through its Delaware River Watershed Initiative, OSI has approved grants totaling over $7.6 million to protect almost 20,000 acres of land to ensure water quality in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition, OSI has supported efforts to integrate watershed science in public and nonprofit planning initiatives to channel funding to protect important watershed lands.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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