Saturday, November 19, 2011

208-Acre Mount Olive Farm Preserved

From Daily Record

MOUNT OLIVE — A 208-acre farm formerly known as West King Estates, located at the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River, will be preserved as open space.
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey announced Thursday that it has closed on the purchase of the property, which it said will nearly triple the size of the South Branch Preserve in Mount Olive. The Morris County Preservation Trust Fund recently awarded a $1.6 million grant for the purchase.

“The preservation of the West King property continues our ongoing effort to preserve the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River,” Mayor David M. Scapicchio said.
“It is a priority for the township and region,” he said.

The conservancy now has preserved 370 acres in the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River in partnership with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, Mount Olive, the county freeholders, the Morris County Preservation Trust, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority and the Raritan Headwaters Association and the state of New Jersey,
The river provides drinking water to more than 1.5 million New Jersey residents, making it one of the most important watersheds in the state, according to a news release from the conservancy.

“Using this property as an open space buffer will not only protect the drinking water but also mitigate flooding downstream,” Freeholder Ann Grossi said in a statement.
The Land Conservancy will own the former West King Estates property in partnership with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.

“The authority’s water customers enable us to participate in important projects such as this by funding source water protection,” said Henry Patterson, executive director of the water authority.

The Land Conservancy will use a $70,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation to restore more than 40 acres of sloping farm fields to native forest, further protecting the river. Hiking trails will be created on the property, and 30 acres of corn fields will be converted to an organic farm.

Other plans include a community garden that will be open to area residents and two small plots for local schools.

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