BURLINGTON, NJ >> The Friends of Burlington Island had a busy year, despite the impact of COVID-19.

FOBI was established in 2019 and is focused on assisting with a safe and responsible approach to opening Burlington Island for enjoyment by the public to enable recreational and educational opportunities while protecting its natural diversity.

FOBI board members include community leaders from both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sides of the island. The composition of the board includes New Jersey residents holding the majority of the nine member board, with all members being like-minded individuals regarding the environmental preservation and sustainability of the island.

The year 2020 marked the FOBI’s first year of operation. During this time, it helped establish hiking trails on the island, performed maintenance of existing trails, and cleaned-up trash along the trail system. The trails were also marked with GPS coordinates to aid hikers.

An all-terrain quad was acquired to handle transportation up and down the Island with an added feature to attach a wagon to this utility vehicle to carry and move equipment. The versatility of the quad allows for adding a brush hog to keep the trails mowed which was a job that never ended.

The Island’s garage was upgraded and improved with new overhead garage doors donated by Jeff Pennell, owner of Jersey Pines Overhead Door in Tabernacle. The donation included a new 9 by 7 door with tracks, hardware, springs, stop molding, and angle irons, valued at $800, and delivered and installed in June.

Although the pandemic changed nearly everything in 2020, FOBI’s public awareness campaign initiated in 2019 was quite active until it couldn’t be due to social distancing requirements. Public awareness and promotion campaigns included having a presence at many summer celebrations including the Smithville History Day, the Burlington County Farm Fair, Burlington City’s Fourth of July event, the Wood Street Fair, and joining events at the Oneida Boat Club situated on the Burlington City river bank.

FOBI also developed a presentation about the history of Burlington Island that was presented to several groups before the pandemic ended in-person gatherings.

As the pandemic forced the cancellation of events, FOBI kicked into high-gear and built its website, created a monthly newsletter distributed to FOBI’s growing membership, and worked to establish relationships with key partners such as the City of Burlington and Bristol Borough Councils and Mayors, elected state officials, and civic groups including the Boy Scouts of America and Girls Scouts. FOBI also met with the State of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Compliance Officer sharing information about our progress and plans for the future.

Looking ahead, FOBI will continue to partner with the Board of Island Managers supporting select projects such as the planned dock and contributing to efforts to keep the Island safe for visitors. Building and expanding the FOBI brand will continue emphasizing the Island’s future as a key cornerstone for the continued community revitalizations of both Burlington City and Bristol Borough. And a continued focus on investing in transportation to move people to and from the Island will keep the FOBI Board busy in the year ahead. Among the ideas in consideration is partnering with local businesses to host special events on the island accompanied by a certified FOBI guide.

FOBI Board Meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month, open to the public, and are being conducted virtually until the resolution of the pandemic permits the return of in-person meetings.

To learn more about the Friends of Burlington or how to become a member or support programming, please visit our website at www.friendsofburlingtonisland.org.

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