If it gets its own spot on the New Jersey tourism map, then it must exist. Right?

A proposed law waiting for action in the New Jersey Legislature establishes a "Central Jersey" region on paper, which would then have to be included in the state's tourism marketing efforts.

"It deserves to be highlighted and be part of the economic force," Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, told New Jersey 101.5. "There's a certain vibe and a landscape associated with this area, which is underutilized from a tourism, attraction, recreation, quality-of-life perspective."

Currently, the state's tourism map is divided into six regions: Skyland, Gateway, Delaware River, Shore, Southern Shore, and Greater Atlantic City.

Under Freiman's measure, the Central Jersey region would consist of, "at a minimum," Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties. A companion bill in the Senate says the same.

"As we have further dialogue and further discussion, it also can include some other parts of our state," Freiman said.

As of now, those four counties are split among the map's Skyway, Gateway, and Delaware River regions.

File photos
File photos

Responding to the newly introduced legislation, state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said anything that doesn't include Monmouth County should never be considered as Central Jersey.

"You can't change the laws of mathematics and you can't change the boundaries of Central Jersey," O'Scanlon said. "If they want to leave out Monmouth, they have to call it something else."

Freiman said the bill wasn't crafted to put an end to the "Is there a Central Jersey?" debate (he says it exists, by the way) — serious intent went into the legislation, in order to more efficiently spend tourism dollars and promote everything New Jersey has to offer.

"When it comes to tourism, New Jersey is more than just a beautiful shore," Freiman said. "We could be celebrating so much more."

In addition to creating a Central Jersey tourism region, the bill would mandate that any use of federal COVID funds for tourism be distributed based on the regions and activities that are most in need of economic assistance. Also, the Division of Travel and Tourism would have to dedicate at least 10% of its annual appropriation to the promotion of agritourism.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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Say you’re from Jersey without saying you’re from Jersey

These are everyday expressions that only someone from New Jersey would get. What else should be on this list?

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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