GRANTEE SPOTLIGHT: 2022 $50,000 Grantee Creates Accessible Nature Trails

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) received a $50,000 general operating grant in July of 2022 from Impact 100 South Jersey. Funds were applied to support the Pinelands Is for Everyone initiative. This funding helped build PPA’s internal capacity to finalize plans, provide staff training and develop accessible ecotours, purchase adaptive equipment, and hire a full-time Access Nature and Disabilities Advocate to oversee and coordinate the program. PPA’s Pinelands Adventures program has devoted substantial time to training itself to lead inclusive programs, designing and testing inclusive hikes with the help of individuals with various kinds of disabilities. 

PPA hired Sean Kane-Holland in November of 2022 to serve as the lead staff person and advocate for the Pinelands Is for Everyone initiative. A perfect fit for PPA and the initiative, Sean graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in American History & Political Science. Prior to joining PPA, he worked in the New Jersey Park Service at Batsto Historic Village in Wharton State Forest as a member of the history department.  Overcoming many challenges, he was born with Spina Bifida and uses leg braces and forearm crutches to get around – but that doesn’t hold him back from accomplishing his goals. Sean is a lifelong South Jersey resident and an avid outdoorsman. He’s devoted to the preservation of natural, cultural, and historic sites and committed to preserving, restoring, and interpreting natural and historic resources for current and future generations and ensuring everyone in our diverse collective community has a chance to enjoy the magnificence of New Jersey’s great outdoors. 

The Impact 100 South Jersey grant has enabled PPA to expand their work in this field, demonstrate success, and win new funding that builds on this work. PPA completed site plans for accessible nature trails at Pemberton Lake, Black Run Preserve, and the Rancocas Cranberry Farm in Burlington County. In addition, PPA was able to leverage this grant to obtain a donation from PSEG to purchase two trail-ready, adaptive wheelchairs. PPA’s Pinelands Adventures program now has six trail-ready wheelchairs of various kinds in order to meet the needs of a diverse clientele for nature hikes. PPA’s new Disabilities Advocate has so far hosted four meetings of the Access Nature Forum, wrote and distributed monthly blog posts, and grew the community interested in Pinelands Is for Everyone.  

Based on the work funded by Impact100 SJ and the state’s Inclusive Healthy Communities grant program, PPA has now won a major two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, awarded in June 2023, to work with the Division of Disability Services, Rutgers University and other partners to expand The Pinelands Is for Everyone idea statewide.  

About the Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Pinelands Preservation Alliance mission is to protect and preserve the resources of the New Jersey Pinelands.

Founded in 1989, PPA is the leading voice for protecting the natural and historic resources of the New Jersey Pinelands. These resources include 800,000 acres of forest in one of the world’s most densely developed regions, the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer that remains one of North America’s largest and healthiest aquifers, rare plants and animals under siege in other parts of their natural habitat, and a fascinating history embodied in the Pinelands’ ghost towns, historic villages, farms and people.

PPA advocates for enforcing and improving the Pinelands Protection Act and Comprehensive Management Plan as the best way to protect the Pinelands’ against sprawl, poorly-designed development and other abuses of land and water. The most important features of these laws are the setting of strict boundaries on development, the sustainable use of the aquifers, the protection of rare species habitats, and the creation of approved areas for new development that are compatible with protecting the Pinelands’ natural resources.

Beyond the Check: How You Can Help

PPA’s work to protect the Pinelands is made possible by the financial support of members, donors and private foundations. PPA was awarded the coveted Four Star rating from Charity Navigator in 2022. Anyone can donate, become a member, leave a conservation legacy or fund a memorial bench.

Volunteers are critical to the PPA mission of protecting the New Jersey Pinelands. There are many opportunities to volunteer ranging from office work, groundskeeping to fundraising and more. Have a different idea, a special skill or project? They’d like to hear about it: https://pinelandsalliance.org/