Originally appearing on NJHerald.com
By LYNDSAY CAYETANA BOUCHAL
STILLWATER -- Some 113 acres in the heart of the township have been preserved, helping to close the gap between patchy parcels of the state's Trout Brook Wildlife Management Area in Stillwater.
The township Environ-mental Commission in partnership with The Land Conservancy of New Jersey had been striving toward preserving the 113 acres off Stillwater Road since the middle of 2010, said Barbara Davis, the Land Conservancy's vice president of programs.
The scenic, forested property was purchased through the New Jersey Green Acres program from the Goldschmidt family, who reside elsewhere in the county. The acres have now been added to the state's Trout Brook Wildlife Management Area that is managed for wildlife habitat and public recreational access, and offers programs for hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Davis said the Trout Brook Wildlife Management Area "jumps and skips a bit" throughout Stillwater. The acquisition of the 113 acres helps "close in the borders" of the area and is "a nice addition to it."
The acquisition of the property, located near Camp Lou Henry Hoover, creates a contiguous parcel of 200 wildlife management acres, Environmental Commission Vice Chairman Paul Klimek said. He said other pieces of the Trout Brook area are separated by a few hundred feet.
The Trout Brook Wildlife Management Area is now more than 1,700 acres in Stillwater, 785 of which were acquired through the help of The Land Conservancy.
Further, the newest addition contains existing trails and stunning specimen trees, said Sandy Urgo, land preservation director at The Land Conservancy. It helps protect habitat for common wildlife such as bears, turkey, owls, deer, bobcats and coyotes, Klimek said.
"It feels great (to bridge a gap)," Klimek said. "It probably couldn't be done without The Land Conservancy."
This is the fifth addition to the Trout Brook area in Stillwater through the Green Acres program and the assistance of The Land Conservancy since 2007. Davis said Stillwater began working with The Land Conservancy in 2005 to create an Open Space and Recreation Plan for the township, which was completed in 2006.
Founded in 1981, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is a member-supported nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting vital natural lands and water resources. The conservancy has preserved more than 20,000 acres of land and helped towns secure $220 million in county, state and federal grants for their land conservation projects.
"The landscape of Stillwater Township has been permanently improved, forest fragmentation has been reduced, wildlife habitat has been protected, and space for resource-based recreation and hunting has been provided," Urgo said. "The results of the township's commitment to this conservation program will be enjoyed by residents of Stillwater and future generations, in perpetuity."