Thursday, August 16, 2012

835 Acres Preserved in Jefferson Twp, Morris County

This is AWESOME news.

Originally appeared on Jefferson Patch

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will announce the protection of 835 acres in the New Jersey Highlands in Morris County, creating a link to 3,000 acres of existing public land.

The Baker residential property has been a high priority for preservation for more 20 years due to its varied habitat, water resources and adjacency to over 3,000 acres of preserved lands, accourding to the DEP. The property contains environmentally sensitive wetland areas, steep slopes and habitat for a number of important state and federally listed species including bobcat, golden-winged warbler, timber rattlesnake, red-shouldered hawk, Indiana bat, Cooper’s hawk and barred owl.

The agreement calls for ownership to be split between Jefferson Township and the DEP as an addition to the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area. The project is being funded by federal Highlands Conservation Act funds, the state Green Acres Program and the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund.

And some more info from a NJDEP press release:

A pristine 835-acre tract located in the heart of the North Jersey Highlands in Jefferson Township, and once slated for residential development, will be permanently preserved through a $4.6 million agreement announced today by project partners, the Department of Environmental Protection, the federal government, the Trust for Public Land, Morris County, and Jefferson Township.

The newly preserved land, long known as the Baker Firestone or Baker Residential property, will greatly expand the DEP’s Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area and provide land for local parks, said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

The property, long sought by conservation groups, had recently been bought by the Trust for Public Land as an interim conservation purchaser for $4.6 million. Title to the land is being formally conveyed to the State of New Jersey and Jefferson Township, which will take ownership of 647 acres and 188 acres respectively.

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