CHEESEQUAKE STATE PARK, N.J, December 4, 2012 /3BL Media/ – Like many residents of Matawan, NJ, Jarred Shaw often hikes the trails of Cheesequake State Park. But unlike most other users, Shaw built some of those trails as a volunteer leader with the Student Conservation Association. And now, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Shaw is leading a crew of SCA specialists to Cheesequake and other New Jersey State Parks to help clear thousands of downed trees and limbs.
For over a month, virtually every trail in Cheesequake as well as Allaire, Hacklebarney, Round Valley and Voorhees State Parks and Stokes State Forest has been closed by an impassable tangle of timber beyond the capacity of park staffs to manage on their own. SCA, a national youth conservation organization whose high school-aged volunteers support New Jersey state parks each summer, has dispatched a response team of Shaw and four others with advanced chainsaw certifications to spend the next two weeks going from park to park, cutting and removing the most troublesome trees.
The NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks & Forestry is coordinating this effort with SCA and values the partnership, which is bringing additional skill and commitment to restoring New Jersey’s state parks and forests after the devastating storm.
The Student Conservation Association is dedicated to building the next generation of conservation leaders by providing 15-25 year olds with hands-on service and job training opportunities in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. Last summer, dozens of high school students from Newark, and elsewhere constructed new trails and maintained existing routes in Allaire, Cheesequake, Round Valley and Voorhees State Parks. Shaw led the crew at Cheesequake, one of 10 SCA teams he’s supervised to date.
“This hits home for me, no doubt about it, and we’re here to do as much as we can,” says Shaw, a soft-spoken Rutgers graduate whose 5’4″ frame belies a steely strength and determination. “As far as the damages goes, we may not get these parks entirely out of the woods. But we’ll certainly make sure that people can get back into the woods.”