Atlantic Highlands – Lenape Woods was not always the appreciated preserved piece of nature it is now. In fact, until the 1990s, most people did not recognize it as anything other than a dump, littering it with glass, paper, cans, and old items they no longer wanted.Now, the woods are approximately 51 well-maintained acres with beautiful waterways, Many Mind Creek and Claypit Creek, trails, plants, trees, and wildlife. The borough is looking to expand awareness of the woods by sharing its treasures with others.For years, the borough prohibited camping in Lenape Woods, only allowing visitors until dusk.A new ordinance permits eligible groups, or “members of any nationally chartered youth group with a demonstrated culture of environmental awareness and conservation,” to camp overnight in the Atlantic Highlands portion of Lenape Woods.The ordinance states: “that group outdoor education for our youth will contribute to the development of environmentally conscious adults who are civically minded, tolerant of others differences and who embrace our nation’s rich diversity at all levels.”Adam Hubeny, Borough Administrator of Atlantic Highlands, said Frederick J. Rast III originally presented the idea seven years ago and has been working diligently to make it happen ever since.“Mayor Rast made a commitment to get this passed when he first took office in 2008,” said Hubeny. “And although most of the Lenape Woods Preserve is located in Middletown Township, it took this long to get on the same page with Middletown as far as rules and regulations and enforcement. Each municipality has passed resolutions supporting the camping in Lenape Woods.”As indicated in the ordinance, camping groups must have at least three adults including at least one registered adult leader who “has the appropriate level of training that the chartering organization requires to super vise outdoor activities.” Rast said, “Once an area is identified and a group comes for ward requesting use, the rules and regulations are already in place and they will need to comply.” Four teen days before camping, each group must submit an application for permit in person to Dwayne M. Harris, the municipal clerk. Harris will then organize the activities with the adult leader, ensuring the groups take full advantage of the preserve.“This ordinance should be good for groups like the Boy Scouts and/or Girl Scouts but any group meeting the ordinance/rules and regulations criteria can apply for a permit to camp,” said Hubeny.AHNJ.com locates Lenape Woods in two separate areas – Lenape Woods East at the corner of East Highland Avenue and Ocean Blvd., consuming approximately 36 acres, and Lenape Woods West on the corner of Sears Avenue and East Washington Avenue, consuming approximately 15 acres.“The next step in this process is to meet with our environmental commission and scope out an area keeping in mind location within the preserve, access for all campers and emergency responders in case of an emergency,” Hubeny explained. “Police will also have to have quick access if there is a problem at the campsite.”Each camping trip can be no longer than 24 hours; no weekend or full-week trips are allowed. Cooking is acceptable only on “propane cook stoves or commercially prepared charcoal in an above ground charcoal grill or brazier.” Campfires and open flames are prohibited as well.