It's always good to see additional land being preserved in places noted in New Jersey for their natural beauty, such as Sussex County.
FREDON — The township has nearly doubled the size of Lodestar Park with the announced purchase of 47 acres of land.
Working with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey and using Open Space and Green Acres funds from the state, the newly purchased property includes much of the creek, which travels the southern side of Paulinskill Lake Road. But the land also stretches across the western boundary of the park to Stillwater Road.
The final purchase price was just over $200,000 with the township paying $5,000 for the final land survey.
“We have been lucky enough to find conservation-minded property owners to help us,” said Larry Lawson, a co-chair of the township’s Open Space Committee. “We’ve been looking to get enough (land) to connect Lodestar to the Paulinskill Trail."
That trail runs parallel to the Paulinskill and follows the old railroad tracks.
Although there will be no direct link to the Paulinskill Trail, town officials said the parcel will allow the expansion of the existing trail network within the park.
“That would be a great Eagle Scout project,” said Township Mayor Carl Lazzaro, referring to community projects that Boy Scouts must complete to be eligible to earn their Eagle Scout badge.
One of the nature trails that now exists within Lodestar was an Eagle Scout project.
“This is a nice piece of property,” he said. “It will be a good addition to the park and make for nice walking trails and nice nature trails.”
Sandy Coltelli, Township Committee member and co-chair of the Open Space Committee, expressed happiness that the township was “able to add this valued land to our inventory.”
In a news release, the Land Conservancy called Lodestar “a wonderful and very different kind of park.”
Sandy Urgo, the land preservation manager at the Land Conservancy said, “The park is unique because it provides lessons in history, agriculture and nature. It has been developed with respect for its environs and its past.
Under its former name as the Morris Land Conservancy, the group also helped the town purchase the 16-acre former Freeborn property in 2008, which has remained mostly woods and has a walking trail on it that can be extended into the new purchase
The Land Conservancy contracts with towns to negotiate on their behalf in land purchase agreements. Over the past 30 years, the group has worked to preserve more than 18,000 acres of open space and helped towns receive more than $220 million for land conservation projects
Lawson said the new land will remain undeveloped since it has several “razorback” ledges with small valleys in between
“The nature of the terrain does not lend itself to development. It will remain a ‘passive’ park where people can enjoy nature,” he said.