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Division of Land Use Regulation
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Trails and Boardwalks (General Permit 17)

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  • Application Guidance
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General permit 17 (GP17) authorizes activities in freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters necessary for construction of a trail and/or boardwalk for use by pedestrians, bicycles, and other non-motorized methods of transport.

General permit 17 does not authorize construction of a restroom, gazebo, rain shelter, or any covered or enclosed structure.

General permit 17 does not authorize construction of a roadway for use by automobiles, golf carts, motorcycles, motorized trail bikes, all-terrain vehicles, or other motor vehicles.

This page is for informational purposes only. Please see N.J.A.C. 7:7A-5.17 for the precise rules concerning this General Permit.

Any proposed trail or boardwalk under a GP17 must comply with the following:

  • The total area of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and/or State open waters disturbed under general permit 17 shall not exceed one quarter acre, except that this limit shall not apply to a site that is publicly owned.
  • The trail or boardwalk shall be no wider than six feet, unless the applicant demonstrates that it must be wider in order to comply with the Barrier Free Subcode of the Standard Uniform Construction Code, N.J.A.C. 5:23-7.
  • The trail or boardwalk shall minimize adverse environmental impact and incorporate features designed to educate the user about the importance of freshwater wetlands, transition areas, and State open waters.
  • The permittee shall take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under general permit 17 do not interfere with the natural hydrology of the area, such as installation at grade or use of cross drains to allow the passage of water. The permittee shall minimize the impact of the activities on vegetation.
  • An application for authorization under general permit 17 for a project on publicly owned land does not require an application fee under N.J.A.C. 7:7A-11.

All freshwater wetland general permits must comply with all applicable requirements at N.J.A.C. 7:7A-4.3, Conditions that apply to all general permits, and N.J.A.C. 7:7A-13.2, Establishing permit conditions.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for General Permits. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to insure that you have all of the required information necessary to complete and process your application.

A direct link to the rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this General Permit can be found below.

7:7A-5.17 General permit 17- Trails and boardwalks

7:7A-4.3 Conditions that apply to all general permit authorizations

7:7A-13.1 Standard conditions that apply to all permits

7:7A - Index to the entire rule.

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Register. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules


Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please use the Land Use Contact form on this website. We will make every attempt to answer your question as promptly as possible.

Q: What is the difference between a GP17 -- Trails and boardwalks and a GP17A -- Non-Motorized, Multiple-use Paths?

A: The GP17 and GP17A are very similar. The main differences are:

  • If a site is publicly owned, there is no disturbance limit for the construction of a trail/boardwalk under a GP17, and there is no fee. The GP17A makes no distinction for a publicly owned site.
  • The GP17 requires that educational features are incorporated along the trail/boardwalk; the GP17A does not require this.
  • The width of a trail/boardwalk under a GP17 is limited to 6 feet. Under the GP17A, the width of the path is not directly specified; it just needs to be designed in accordance with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) “guide for the development of bicycle facilities.”


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Last Updated: April 12, 2022