Longtime Circuit Trails Leader Takes on Role of Coalition Chair

For the first time since its launch in May 2012, the Circuit Trails Coalition has a new leader. Well, perhaps “new” isn’t the right word. The collaboration of non-profit organizations, foundations and agencies working to complete a connected network of more than 800 miles of trails in Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey has appointed Patrick Starr as the next Coalition chair. 

Headshot of Patrick Starr, Circuit Trails Coalition ChairStarr has been a longtime leader of the Coalition with a wealth of experience, helping to shape and steward the trail network since its earliest days. Starr, who is executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s southeast region, served as the Circuit Coalition’s vice chair in Pennsylvania since 2012, working for 11 years in partnership with Sarah Clark Stuart who recently stepped down from the role, as well as with several vice chairs in New Jersey.

“I’m not new to this work, but I am thrilled to move into this role at a time when there is so much momentum for closing critical gaps in the network and advocating for 500 completed miles by 2025,” said Starr. “The Circuit Trails Coalition needs to refine our approach and broaden our representation of diverse stakeholders from our area.” 

In his position, Starr wants to focus on engaging underserved and disadvantaged communities in the Circuit Trails network. He brings additional experience to the Coalition as a convener of the Philly Upstream Suburban Watershed Cluster and the board chair of the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

“Our vision of building 500 miles by the end of 2025 is not just about laying pavement for the sake of adding miles, it’s about creating safe and equitable access to trails that are welcoming to everyone. Trails provide inexpensive alternative transportation, recreation access, safety, and community to users; trails are a resource meant for them,” added Starr.

The Circuit Trails Coalition works to secure and commit federal, state and local funding for trail development and maintenance across Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. The Circuit Trails network currently encompasses 411 miles of completed trails, and there are 77 miles currently in progress. That means the network is more than 78% of the way to the short-term goal of 500 miles. Securing funding to move 30 more miles from the pipeline to in-progress phase would achieve the 500-mile goal by December of 2025. 

Stepping into the role of Pennsylvania vice chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition as of January 2024 is Anya Saretzky, project manager at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Justin Dennis, Camden program director at the Trust for Public Land, rounds at the Coalition’s leadership triumvirate as the New Jersey vice chair. He was appointed in 2023. 

To see a development status map of the Circuit Trails network, please click here.

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