This originally appeared in The Daily Record
MOUNT OLIVE — The Land Conservancy of New Jersey closed on two properties totaling 18 acres to be added to the South Branch Preserve.
“The Preserve is an important water management resource in Morris County, providing drinking water for 1.5 million New Jersey residents,” said Glenn Schweizer, executive director of the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority.
These are the first two of four projects the Morris County Utilities Authority and New Jersey Water Supply Authority are working on in conjunction with the Land Conservancy, according to a prepared statement from the Conservancy.
These are the fifth and sixth properties to be added to the Preserve since its establishment in 2010, according to the statement, which said that the long-term vision is to increase the South Branch Preserve to 1,000 acres to serve as a showcase for watershed
“We hope this project will inspire our state, county and local agencies to continue to fund these important preservation initiatives to ensure our water resources remain secure and plentiful,” said David Epstein, president of the Land Conservancy.
The South Branch Preserve contains rich forests, agricultural fields, and wetlands. It flows into the main stem of the Raritan River, the largest river basin located entirely within the state of New Jersey and one of its most critical water supply sources, the statement said.
The Land Conservancy and its partners have added five properties to the Preserve, which now totals 390 acres and includes three-quarters of a mile of the river flowing through the Preserve, the statement said.
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is a member supported nonprofit land trust whose mission is to preserve land and water resources, conserve open space, and inspire and empower individuals and communities to protect our natural land and environment. They have worked with 89 municipalities in 13 counties to preserve a total of 19,500 acres in 330 projects, helping towns secure $224 million in county, state, and federal grants.