A few years ago, a group of local citizens asked: “What can be done to preserve and improve the Rancocas Creek? What is the future of the Creek?” Shortly thereafter, the NJ DEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry requested an informal assessment of the Creek’s tidewater section along Rancocas State Park (RSP). Following a preliminary assessment, and hundreds of hours of volunteer work over at the state park, a small a cadre of active volunteers began pulling together the pieces of a National Water Trail application for submission to the National Park Service. The need to identify a NWT applicant and an authorized trail manager resulted in the legal formation of Rancocas Pathways (RP), a NJ-registered, and federally tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization governed by a board of volunteer directors. Additionally, a community-based advisory group with a near-term focus on improvements at RSP’s Melpine Landing, has provided support and assistance with RP’s recreational and educational activities, to include the hosting of the first annual, and highly successful, Rancocas Book Fair & Forum.
RSP Bluetrail, the Burlington County Parks’ network of water trails, The Mt. Holly Village OxBow Trail, and the Medford Canoe Trail are tidal and non-tidal waterways commending themselves to an emergent national water trail along the northern and southern branches of Rancocas Creek. With the potential for public-private infrastructure improvements along the Rancocas, to include municipal and county parks located along this unique tributary of the historic Delaware River, the potential of a more active and dynamic waterway holds great promise for the entire region. To this end, Rancocas Pathways continues in its efforts to build a “coalition of the willing” as a means of bringing additional visibility and public support to this remarkable natural treasure that has for too long managed to remain “hiding in plain sight.”