By: Elise Phillips Margulis
Robert Brauman, Jr., a 16-year-old junior at Mount Olive High School, walks through Maiers Pond on the Orange Trail on his way to and from school everyday. Parts of the trail were muddy and three streams crossed through it.
Brauman, an avid nature lover, wanted to make the trail more appealing and welcoming to hikers. The enterprising teen approached the Mount Olive Open Space Committee for permission to build bridges and boardwalks so everyone could walk through the trail without wearing knee high galoshes.
His request was approved and the township donated wood so all Brauman needed was a little help with the labor.
According to Brauman’s father, Robert Sr., Brauman had “experienced building a bridge when he assisted in a construction project of a large trail bridge project on the Appalachian Trail in Vernon.”
Adult leaders in the troop assisted Brauman with the carpentry. He also received help from the scouts in Troop 249, cadets from Mount Olive Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corp
(JROTC) and family members.
Now people can enjoy the beauty of the trail without sinking into the mud by using the newly constructed three bridges and several boardwalks. He also removed litter from the area, pruned branches and disposed of fallen trees. Brauman even fixed trail markers.
In addition to cleaning up the trail and building the bridges and boardwalks, Brauman painted an existing bridge that was covered with graffiti.
With a little help from his friends, Brauman achieved his objective of enabling students and hikers to walk from the high school to Turkey Brook Park without getting mud splattered.
Brauman is interested in pursuing a career in the environmental sciences and has just learned first hand about the applying for and implementing environmental projects.
Brauman Sr, said that his son, (a member of the JROTC), also “recently completed a 14-mile hike around Turkey Brook Park with his ROTC unit at the POW/MIA Remembrance and Vigil at the All Veteran’s Memorial.”
“Robbie is to be commended for his impressive work improving the Orange Trail with multiple puncheon boardwalks that work to increase access to one of our most ecologically interesting areas.”
He explained further, “The trail connects the high school with Maiers Pond and Turkey Brook Park through a wooded wetland forest along and the headwaters of the Trout Brook, a New Jersey Fish and Wildlife designated wild trout stream.”
Alexander also mentioned that The Open Space Committee is looking for a group to clean up trash on the White Trail starting at Adam’s Bagels at Route 46 and continuing uphill 200 yards to the power lines.
In addition, Alexander is in search of an Eagle Scout candidate to create small routed signs with destinations and trail distances for the primary trail entrances to help hikers find their way more easily.
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and join their Facebook group for trail walk information and for volunteer opportunities.