Green Acres Preserves 1,198-Acre Highlands Property
(04/22) TRENTON - Reiterating
Governor James E. McGreevey's commitment to preserving open
space in the Highlands region, Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today
announced the purchase of a 1,198-acre property known as
Gerard Woods in Sparta, New Jersey. Gerard Woods, which
is adjacent to the Newark Pequannock watershed and the Sparta
Mountain and Hamburg Mountain wildlife management areas,
will be managed by the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife.
"The Highlands are critical to the
future of New Jersey," said Governor McGreevey. "If
we are going to protect the region and its vital supply
of drinking water from the dangers of development, we must
act now. By preserving the Gerard Woods, we are taking an
important step forward in our continued efforts to protect
New Jersey's drinking water."
The Gerard Woods acquisition complements
Governor McGreevey's efforts to protect the Highlands region
from encroaching development. The Governor established the
Highlands Task Force through Executive Order on September
19, 2003 and charged it to provide recommendations on how
best to advance conservation efforts, smart growth, regional
planning and water resource protections in the region. The
Task Force presented its Recommendations to Preserve New
Jersey's Highlands to the public on March 13, 2004.
"The preservation of properties such
as Gerard Woods is vital to the protection of our water
resources," said Commissioner Campbell. "Under
Governor McGreevey's leadership, the DEP is working closely
with the Highlands Task Force, local communities, and the
legislature to preserve the Highlands, which supplies drinking
water to more than half of New Jersey's families."
Preserving open space in the Highlands
is one of Governor McGreevey's top priorities. During his
first term in office, the Governor has preserved an estimated
4,600 acres of farmland in the Highlands, protected approximately
17,000 acres of open space in and around the Highlands,
and applied C1 designation to seven waterbodies in the region.
In November 2003, voters approved Public Question No. 1,
which will provide $150 million toward the purchase of open
space and farms in the Highlands region and throughout the
The Gerard Woods property surrounds Lake
Gerard and Beaver Lake and includes hiking access to Gerard
Lake. The land includes forested mountain terrain and several
streams. It serves as a habitat for wildlife including the
barred owl, cold water trout, great blue heron and neotropical
The $4 million property was purchased using
funds from the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program,
the DEP Green Acres Program and the Trust for Public Land
(TPL). The U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program contributed
$2.981 million, the DEP Green Acres Program contributed
$319,000 in general acquisition funds and a $250,000 nonprofit
grant, and the TPL contributed a donation from the Doris
Duke Charitable Foundation in the amount of $450,000.
The U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program
funds were secured through a congressional appropriation
supported by members of the New Jersey Delegation including
Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen and Steven Rothman
and Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg.
"Each year, we lose thousands of acres
of highlands to development," said Senator Corzine.
"Open space purchases, like the Gerard Woods initiative
are critical to our quality of life in New Jersey. Governor
McGreevey and Commissioner Campbell have done admirable
work in the effort to preserve our drinking water and natural
habitat of our local wildlife. I am proud to aid in this
effort at the federal level and to help preserve the balance
between development and protecting our open spaces."
The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,000 square
mile area in the Northwest part of the State noted for its
rugged hills, lush forests and scenic lakes. It stretches
from Phillipsburg in the Southwest to Ringwood in the Northeast,
and lies within portions of 7 counties (Hunterdon, Somerset,
Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic and Bergen) and 87 municipalities.
The larger Highlands region runs from Connecticut through
New York and New Jersey into Pennsylvania.
"Gerard Woods and the entire Highlands
region sit at the center of the most densely populated area
of the country," said Frelinghuysen. "This funding
we have secured is a major victory for preserving the pristine
land and natural beauty of Gerard Woods. It further demonstrates
our commitment to taking every step necessary to protect
open space in the Highlands."
"Preserving the Highlands region will
protect the water supply for millions of New Jerseyans and
save one of the largest remaining areas of open space in
our very densely crowded state," said Rothman. "I
am proud to have worked with my New Jersey colleagues in
Congress to secure these federal funds, which will spare
state taxpayers from the cost of these preservation efforts.
These federal funds complement the leadership that Governor
McGreevey has exhibited on the state level to save the Highlands
for future generations of New Jerseyans."
The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land
to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources
and other significant natural and historical open space.
Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks
and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.
Since Governor McGreevey took office, the
Green Acres Program has acquired 51,428 acres of open space
-32,923 acres for state projects, 10,232 acres for local
projects and 8,273 acres for nonprofit groups. To date,
the Green Acres Program has protected more than 533,434
acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds
of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open
space and farmland totals more than 1.24 million acres.
For more information about the Green Acres
Program, visit the website at www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres.