House Passes New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route Reauthorization
Historic trail includes Allaire State Park in Smith's district
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today called House approval of a four-year reauthorization of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route "a key federal investment in helping preserve New Jersey's rich history."
"The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route provides an important link to natural and cultural sites all across the pristine coastal area of New Jersey. Continued federal support will ensure tourists and residents alike have the ability to best explore the many recreational, scenic and educational opportunities the trail offers," Smith said.
The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Routefirst authorized in 1988 includes numerous site destinations in it nearly 300 miles along the Atlantic seaboard stretching from Perth Amboy in north, Cape May in the south and Deepwater to the west. The Trail covers the entire coastline of the Fourth Congressional District and includes Allaire State Park among its destinations and highlighted exhibits.
"Allaire State Park offers a glimpse into New Jersey's past by allowing visitors the opportunity to experience life in a 19th-century ironmaking town and ride the antique steam trains on the Pine Creek Railroad. Investing in the Trail helps us to better preserve and understand our state's history and its impact on the area today," Smith said of the historical importance of Allaire State Park.
Congressional reauthorization will continue to bring New Jersey technical and financial assistance for the Trail from the National Park Service (NPS). The federal assistance creates a partnership with the local communities which helps provide for two welcome centers and numerous interpretative exhibits. In fact, there are currently nearly 200 different wayside exhibits touching on one of five themes of the Trailand nearly 1,100 exhibits overallthe most of any park in the United States.
Smith noted that the reauthorization is of equal importance for its contributions to protecting the state's tourism and recreation.
"At the same time, the federal commitment encourages recreation and tourism opportunities up and down the Trail. Hikers, fishermen, canoeists, mountain bikers and horseback riders come from near and far to experience the activities the parks and sites along the Trail offer," Smith said.
The reauthorization was incorporated as part of the larger "Celebrating America's Heritage Act" (H.R. 1483) which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 291-122.
Last year, language reauthorizing the Trail was included in S. 203 (now PL 109-338) which requires a strategic plan for the Trail to be prepared "Not later than 3 years after the date on which funds are made available." Unfortunately, under S. 203, the Trail was only reauthorized for one year.
To correct this, earlier this year Rep. Smith joined as an original cosponsor to H.R. 1815 introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) to extend authorization for the Trail. Following the introduction of the legislation, Congressman LoBiondo, Smith and other members of the New Jersey delegation encouraged key Committee and Subcommittee Chairmen quickly move the legislation.
"I applaud Congressman LoBiondo for his unyielding commitment and hard work in ensuring that this important natural treasure in New Jersey is preserved and supported at the federal level," said Smith.
With House passage, H.R. 1483 must now clear the Senate before it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.