The Highlands Project, Inc. was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization consisting of adult volunteers working to provide meaningful community service opportunities for Warren County youth with court ordered community service. The Highlands Project also works with Scouts and other youth groups looking to serve the community.
The headquarters for the Highlands Project is Warren County’s Bread Lock Park. Adults and youth have worked together to clear brush from the historic Morris Canal, develop trails, walking bridges, sign kiosks, pavilions, picnic areas and other improvements on Warren County Parklands. In addition, work has been done to renovate the barn at Bread Lock Park, construct a performance stage and build a ninety foot long canal boat replica. The local history Museum at Bread Lock Park was developed and is maintained by Highlands volunteers and youth workers. As of January, 2015 over 440 youth have providing over 14,000 hours of community service and the 4-6 adults involved have provided over 11,000 hours of volunteer work to the citizens of Warren County.
Metrotrails assists Warren County with planning, developing, maintaining, and promoting trails. Formed in 1997, Metrotrails mission is to assist in cultivation of trail systems in the New York/Philadelphia metropolitan area, as well as education and preservation of natural and historic aspects of their routes. The organization has been instrumental in developing the Warren Highlands Trail, including volunteering many hours to designing, constructing, and maintaining sections of the trail passing through Warren County’s Marble Hill and Oxford Mountain Natural Resource Areas. Metrotrails also works on numerous trail projects on state, municipal, and nonprofit lands throughout Warren County and the metropolitan region. For more information about Metrotrails, please visit: www.metrotrails.org.
Morris Canal Committee
In 1981, the Board of Chosen Freeholder of Warren County made the Morris Canal part of the County’s open space plan and established the Morris Canal Committee. The Committee serves as an advisor to the Warren County Planning Board and the Board of Chosen Freeholders in the review of the historical data, engineering features, potential uses and means of acquisition of portions of the Morris Canal. The goal of the Committee was then and continues to be the preservation and protection of the remains of the Morris Canal while raising public awareness of this historic marvel. The Committee is made up of volunteers who have devoted untold hours to this goal. Key achievements include the competition in 1983 of the Historic Survey of the Morris Canal in Warren County (which provides a framework for conservation efforts) and in 2012, the Morris Canal Greenway 25-Year Action Plan. Additionally, with the County’s support they have established visitor attractions at Bread Lock Park and Port Warren Park by creating displays and guided programs, leading tours of canal sites and installing of more than 20 kiosks with interpretive signage at public access points along the canal.
New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg
The New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg assists Warren County with maintaining its parkland. Founded in May of 1998, the Youth Corps is a ‘second chance’ program for young adults aged 16-25 who did not complete high school. Through a balance of academic instruction, service learning, and counseling, this program provides students with a foundation upon which to build a brighter future. Youth Corps staff design personalized education plans for each student which is geared towards helping them to earn their High School Equivalency. The students also participate in community service learning projects that provide supervised work experiences that allow them to develop the maturity and skills necessary to become a stronger candidate for employment. Ongoing counseling and mentorship by Youth Corps staff are designed to help students overcome personal barriers, develop better self-esteem, clarify their values, and develop leadership skills.
Warren County has proudly supports the New Jersey Youth Corps and has been extremely grateful for their partnership in helping to maintain and improve county parkland. Working out of the County’s Port Warren Farmhouse, the Youth Corps not only keep our park grounds well-manicured and looking nice, but they routinely keep trails open, safe, and accessible along the Morris Canal Greenway and elsewhere. They also assist with sign installation, landscaping, ecological restoration, and light construction projects, including many of the picnic tables and benches enjoyed by visitors throughout our parks. To learn more about the New Jersey Youth Corps and their exemplar program, please visit: https://www.njycphillipsburg.com/
Ridge and Valley Conservancy
The Ridge and Valley Conservancy (RVC) assists Warren County with maintaining the White Lake Natural Resource Area. Born in the late 1980s out of the Frelinghuysen Township Open Space Committee, RVC was created as a charitable nonprofit organization whose purpose is to preserve and protect natural areas within the Appalachian Valley and Ridge Region of northwestern New Jersey. Not only does RVC acquire important lands, but it also manages these lands for the benefit of both nature and the public, it assists in the stewardship of other public lands, and it advises private landowners about ecologically sound land management. In addition, RVC continues to create and maintain an extensive trail system which includes both loop trails on individual preserves as well as the regional Ridge and Valley Trail, which is intended to cross the Ridge and Valley region and to help connect the New Jersey Highlands to the east with Mountain to the west.
Warren County has long partnered with RVC on numerous open space and farmland preservation projects. Not only was RVC an initial supporter of preserving the White Lake Natural Resource Area, which is nestled in the Ridge and Valley region, but it was also an early member of this park’s advisory committee. RVC now currently maintains this pristine 394-acre park area under an innovative stewardship management agreement with the County. RVC staff and volunteers, with assistance from the Student Conservation Association internship program, provide full-time, year-round services at White Lake, including routine grounds keeping, trail and facility maintenance, educational and recreational events, and ecological management activities. To learn more about RVC, please visit www.ridgeandvalleyconservancy.org.
Warren County Parks Foundation
Formed in 2015, the Warren County Parks Foundation is the only charitable nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to directly support the protection, enhancement, use and enjoyment the county’s parks through volunteerism, fundraising, conservation, education, and community partnerships. The Foundation not only supports the county’s parks by raising funds for conservation, maintenance, and improvement projects, but it also connects residents and visitors with the county’s natural and historic resources through outreach, engagement, and education programs. By fostering partnerships with governments, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals, the Foundation is also helping to establish a vested community interest in sustaining the county’s parks for future generations.