Giving Back

Volunteers Bring Nature and History Together at Ash Brook Reservation in Scotch Plains

Union County Volunteers Bring Nature and History Together at Ash Brook Reservation in Scotch Plains Credits: Carl Nuzman

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- More than 40 volunteers gathered in Union County’s historically significant Ash Brook Reservation in Scotch Plains last Saturday to help prevent flooding on a popular hiking trail. Formerly known as Ash Swamp or Ash Brook Swamp, the Reservation is credited with enabling the Continental Army to escape annihilation in 1777, during the sprawling Battle of Short Hills.

The volunteers, who were coordinated by Union County Trail Steward Marc Grobman, also cleared debris from trails in other areas of the Reservation.

“Marc is one of our most outstanding volunteers, and his service in the cause of enjoying and preserving our parks is deeply appreciated,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “On behalf of the Freeholder Board, many thanks to Marc and all of those who contributed their time and effort to this project.”

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As a volunteer Trail Steward in Union County’s Adopt-a-Trail program, Grobman has taken responsibility for ensuring that the white-blazed trail in Ash Brook Reservation is walkable and free of fallen limbs and other obstacles. The trail begins next to the Union County Police Academy, in the rear of the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools campus at 1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains.

The volunteer group of 40 high school students and one adult represented seven different municipalities both in and out of Union County, including Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Plainfield, Perth Amboy, East Orange, Maplewood, and Short Hills. The volunteers removed leaves and dead tree limbs clogging a ditch under a footbridge. The blockage was putting the adjacent trail at risk of flooding during wet weather, creating potentially hazardous conditions for hikers.

The footbridge represents another volunteer effort in Union County parks. It was recently installed as a volunteer Eagle Scout project by Douglas Keating of Plainfield. Keating’s project includes the installation of a kiosk by the trail. It houses a poster created by the Eagle Scout, describing the historical significance of Ash Brook in the Revolutionary War.

“Thanks to all of our volunteers, visitors to Ash Brook can enjoy hiking through this beautiful park while picking up some fascinating details about the bravery and tenacity of our founders,” said Bergen.

A self-guided walking tour that traces the Battle of Short Hills is available on the County website, Individuals and groups are invited to join Adopt-a-Trail and its companion program, Adopt-a-Park. The two programs are run by the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, providing hundreds of volunteer opportunities annually. For more information call 908-789-3683 or visit

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