About Us
Why Wildlife Trails?
So, why develop NJ Birding and Wildlife Trails? Wildlife viewing is the fastest growing outdoor recreation industry in the country, and is enjoyed by approximately one in three adults.

Such trails have proven so successful in other parts of the country that trails projects are literally sweeping the nation. Whether available as fold-out maps, brochures, leaflets or books, they are an ideal way to present any state’s natural resources to a broad audience of residents and visitors, therefore bringing to the local community the tangible economic benefits of increased nature-based tourism.

In developing the first guide for New Jersey, we drew on the experiences of our colleagues in other states, especially Virginia, Florida and Texas, and we thank them for their support, encouragement and enthusiasm. We also borrowed some of their ideas and came up with many of our own to make the guide and this website as easy-to-use and welcoming as possible. Our second effort broke new ground as we linked 30 “urban oases” within the Hackensack River Watershed in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. Our most recent guides are the three Skylands counties of Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon. Our first ever "Try the Trails" Day on April 25, 2009, was the launch event for the Skylands guides and proved to be a fun and successful day!

Currently we are finishing up the Pine Barrens Region, which will include Atlantic, Burlington, Camden & Gloucester counties. Stay tuned for the release of the guides in late June 2010!

Wildlife-related recreation has become one of the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S.  Over the past 20 years, participation in wildlife watching, particularly bird watching, has increased nationally by more than 266% (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation). 

The travel industry has noted the increased interest in outdoor and experiential travel, and in 2002, the Travel Industry Association of America declared:

  • 76% of American travelers want to visit somewhere that they have never been before;
  • 48% of these travelers are interested in “remote and untouched” destinations; and
  • 57% are attracted by an area’s culture.

According to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, wildlife watching is the largest economic growth sector in outdoor recreation.  Across the U.S., nearly $40 billion was spent on wildlife watching—a figure that has increased by over 40% in the past ten years.  These expenses ranged from supplies such as binoculars and bird seed, to hotel rooms and gasoline.  In New Jersey alone, 1.64 million residents and 688,000 visitors watched wildlife, and collectively, these two groups spent $1.24 billion on their hobby.

Of the nation’s 66 million wildlife watchers, 45 million of them are bird-watchers. In 2001, these bird watchers spent $32 billion in retail stores, which generated $85 billion in overall economic impact and created over 860,000 jobs (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2001 Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis).

Birding and Baseball?

In 2001, 82 million people participated in hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, while in that same year 89 million people attended all major league baseball and professional football games.*

* U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2001 National and State Economic Impacts of Wildlife Watching