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Rebuild the Boondocks Boardwalk

Impact Area: Conservation, Health and Wellness
Region: Northeast

Repair a 900 foot section of trail in the most beloved and biologically rich areas at Lord Stirling Park, which was damaged by hurricane.

$6,166 Raised out of $45,000
38 Donors
0 Days Remaining

About this project.

When hurricanes Irene and Sandy swept through the Mid-Atlantic region, one of the most beloved and biologically rich stretches along the 9-mile trail system at Lord Stirling Park was severely damaged.  Known as the “Boondocks Boardwalk”, this 900-foot section of board-walked trail has since been closed to the public.

We have heard from many in Basking Ridge and nearby communities that they would like to see us repair this treasured section of trail on the western edge of the Great Swamp in New Jersey.

Through the National Recreation and Park Association, we will be launching a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to raise $45,000 for the materials needed to repair the Boondocks. The campaign launches on August 25, 2015.

This project supports two of the three NRPA pillars that they use to impact the community:

Health & Wellness: Through our Naturalist led programs, such as Forest Fitness, which is a regular guided walk through the park, the EEC increases opportunities for physical activity. This project would connect a loop section of trail that would make it easier for visitors to explore our 9 mile trail system. In 2013 we joined the national Let's Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity. EEC participants have walked over 5 million steps along the trail system, which we kept track of with pedometers.

Conservation: Our mission revolves around protecting open space and being good stewards of the land. The EEC is nestled within 425 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The variety of habitats of floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, and natural and man-made ponds, fields, and forests provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park.

The area was once home to Paleo-Indian groups, the Lenapes, and even a Major General of the Continental Army, Lord Stirling. Recent history, in 1960’s, includes a landmark accomplishment when grassroots citizens group and conservation groups rallied to protect the precious wetlands from becoming an international airport. Consequently, 2,600 acres of land were presented to the Department of the Interior to create the core of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; the property adjacent to the SCPC Environmental Education Center.

Contact: Shawn McCrohan 

Manager, Environmental Science

Somerset County Park Commission


908.766.2489 Ext. 324

How will this impact your community?

There has been a steady roar from the community to rebuild the Boondocks Boardwalk which is considered a treasure due to its remoteness and solitude. It is an excellent spot for birding and seeing wildlife such as river otter.

Local resident Jim Patterson said, “We need to get the Bondocks Boardwalk redone so that the new generations get to learn and enjoy from this treasure in the back marshes. It’s such a unique habitat.”

When asked, “What does the Boondocks Boardwalk mean to you?” during a focus group meeting that we held as part of this project, local residents listed the following:

·       Solitude

·       Remote and quiet

·       It’s a great place to see river otter and other animals you don’t see elsewhere

·       A safe wilderness experience

·       A great family experience

·       Only place for solo walking in the area where I feel safe

It is the loveliest portion of the Lord Stirling Park trail system and showcases the natural history of the Great Swamp exquisitely.

Six full-time Naturalists are staffed at the Environmental Education Center, and if the Boondocks Boardwalk was rebuilt they could resume taking groups of children out on that section of trail, which is an excellent environmental education teaching spot.

We need to reopen this section of trail so that the community can go back to searching for birds on their life lists, or find a quiet respite from civilization.


About us!

The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center has been an innovator in the field of environmental education since its inception. The office and education building was the first public building in the United States that was solar-heated when it was opened in 1977.

The Center is located within Lord Stirling Park in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township, and is nestled within 450 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The variety of habitats of floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, ponds, fields, and forests provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park. All are within walking distances of the multi-faceted building. The Great Swamp Experience Exhibit, a swamp vivarium, and an environmentally-based library are located within the Center.

The Environmental Science Department designs and delivers a wide range of environmentally-themed programs to an audience that ranges from toddlers to senior citizens. School programs are written to meet the New Jersey Core Curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards, as well as the needs of individual classroom teachers. The summer science program experience for youth and teens provides the opportunity to explore, enjoy, and experience the outdoors through two well-respected summer programs – Eco-Explorers and AWESIM Kids.

From discovering the complexities of our ecosystem through formal programs to paddling down the Passaic River, children develop a love of their environment. Adults enjoy the learning experiences provided through lectures, field trips as close as the mid-Atlantic region and as far as Costa Rica and Africa, and canoeing and kayaking on various rivers throughout the tristate area.

The community can also experience the environment through a variety of special events and exhibits such as the 1770s Festival, the Halloween Hullabaloo, the Eco-Rally, and the County Caper. Hiking the 9-miles of trails through the swamp provides unique nature experiences. The Book and Gift shop complements the programs and trail experiences with a multitude of natural history and environmental materials and gifts, and the resource library is filled with a wide variety of natural history topics.

A multitude of awards have been presented to the Environmental Science department through the years.

The Somerset County Environmental Science Department is dedicated to stimulating awareness and understanding for the natural world in order to foster a sense of responsibility for its care.

We support youth development, community engagement, schools and teachers, and the natural world around us. We do this through connecting people with nature and promoting environmental literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based learning. Environmental education teaches people how to learn about and investigate their environment, and to make intelligent, informed decisions about how they can take care of it. Our programs focus on natural and cultural features of the Great Swamp region to develop a strong sense of place. We also engage diverse urban youth, and focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the arts.

We are proud to partner with national initiatives like Let’s Move!, which fights against childhood obesity by encouraging people to engage in outdoor activities and to eat healthy. Through outreach we reach beyond the EEC into schools and communities to extend the impact of our programs. 


We have two timelines that are weather dependent:

Spring, 2016 Option 1:

  • Materials would be purchased in March, 2016.
  • Volunteers would begin work on rebuilding in the spring of 2016.
  • The Boondocks Boardwalk would be open to the public on Earth Day 2016.

Fall 2015 Option 2:

  • If the weather is still warm enough the materials can be purchased in October, 2015 Rebuilding would take place October through November.

Shawn McCrohan
Manager of Environmental Science
Cindie Sullivan
Deputy Director/Leisure Services
Jim Bodnar and Stephen Federico
Maintenance Team AKA the Bilge B

About Shawn McCrohan

As Manager of Environmental Science Shawn is responsible for the operation of the Environmental Education Center and the management of the 450 acres of land including the 9 mile trail system. Her primary duties are to plan, promote, implement, and evaluate environmental, historical, and cultural programming at the Environmental Education Center, in the general use parks, and in undeveloped natural areas. Contact at smccrohan@scparks.org or 908.766.2489 Ext. 324

About Cindie Sullivan

Responsible for the management of the four departments that comprise the Leisure Services Division: Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, Stable, and Environmental Science. Responsible for planning and implementing the operation of diverse recreation facilities. Provide fiscal accountability through annual and long-range strategic planning, cost analysis and effectiveness, exploring new revenue sources, and budget preparation and management control. Oversees the agency’s Capital Improvement Plan. Coordinate agency-wide corporate sponsorship/partnership programs and customer feedback methods. Coordinate public relation efforts, including preparation of annual report, seasonal park guides, sponsorship and volunteers brochures, website text development, press releases, brochures, weekly parks newspaper column, and other promotional materials.

About Jim Bodnar and Stephen Federico

Jim and Steve are responsible for the maintenance of the 18,000 square foot Environmental Education facility and 9 miles of trail. Both specialize in wood working and boardwalk trail systems. If it's broken, they can fix it!