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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

New Jersey Land Preservation Initiative Moves Forward
DEP Announces Sourlands Acquisitions

(04/36) WEST AMWELL- In response to Governor McGreevey's call for the preservation of open space, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of eight significant properties in the Sourland Mountain region. The DEP Green Acres program preserved the properties, which are located in East Amwell Township, Hopewell Township and West Amwell Township.

"The Sourland Mountain region is a precious New Jersey resource facing tremendous growth pressure," said Governor McGreevey. "By preserving these properties, the state of New Jersey is protecting biodiversity and drinking water resources and ensuring a promising future for an area threatened by rapid development."

The Sourland Mountain region is a 94 square mile area in Hunterdon, Mercer and Somerset Counties noted for its water resources and mature, intact forests and wetlands. It contains portions of Lambertville, East Amwell Township, Hillsborough Township, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Montgomery Township and West Amwell Township.

"By preserving these properties in East Amwell, Hopewell and West Amwell, the State of New Jersey will protect valuable water resources, conserve lush forests and wetlands and provide habitat for vulnerable endangered species so that future generations of these species might thrive," Campbell added.

Standing with local, state government and community leaders at Fiddler's Creek Farm, Campbell announced the acquisition of the 197-acre turkey farm located in West Amwell. The preservation of Fiddler's Creek Farm creates a continuous expanse of preserved land connecting the Delaware River Greenway and the Sourland Mountain Greenway. Fiddler's Creek Farm consists of forested stream corridor, hayfields and pasture and commands a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, the Delaware River and Bowman's Tower in Pennsylvania. A branch of Moores Creek, which supports 18 species of fish, flows through the property, connecting it to other preserved properties including the Howell Living History Farm and Baldpate Mountain. Delaware & Raritan Greenway, the Green Acres Program Hunterdon County and West Amwell Township were partners in the preservation of Fiddler's Creek Farm.

The Delaware & Raritan Greenway was instrumental in protecting Fiddler's Creek Farm and three additional Sourlands properties announced today.

"The preservation of the eight properties announced today by Commissioner Campbell represents a giant step forward in the protection of the Sourlands region," Delaware & Raritan Greenway Executive Director Linda J. Mead. "The Sourlands are a critical natural resource for central New Jersey. The source of the headwaters for the streams that provide the drinking water for over 1 million people and the deep forest breeding habitat essential to the survival of many species of neo-tropical birds are all located in the Sourlands. D&R Greenway is proud to be a partner with the DEP Green Acres Program in the ongoing initiative to preserve the Sourlands and complete the Sourlands Greenway."

In addition to Fiddler's Creek Farm, Commissioner Campbell announced the preservation of the following properties, all of which will adjoin other preserved lands to create a greenway of open space in the Sourland Mountain region. Each of the properties plays an integral role in maintaining the quality of the local watershed, and their protection will further Governor McGreevey's goal of safeguarding New Jersey's drinking water resources.

  • DEP purchased three wooded West Amwell properties totaling 288 acres and a 55-acre Hopewell Township tract that will be important components of the Crossroads of the American Revolution greenway. In 2003, Governor McGreevey commemorated the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth by appropriating $10 million for the Crossroads of American Revolution initiative to preserve Revolutionary War-era historical sites such as battlegrounds, barracks, revolutionary leaders' homes and encampment sites. When completed, the open space preserved under the Crossroads of the American Revolution project will extend west toward historic Lambertville, north toward the Sourland Mountains and south to the Washington Crossing State Park.

  • DEP preserved a 58-acre East Amwell Township property that consists of woodlands, vernal pools and cleared farm fields. This property will be linked to the 1000-acre Northern Stony Brook Preserve. Delaware & Raritan Greenway contributed to the preservation of this property.

  • DEP acquired a 31-acre East Amwell Twp property, which consists of wooded areas and wetlands, purchased in partnership with D &R Greenway, which adjoins the Lindbergh Estate and the D&R Greenway's Bromley Preserve. Delaware & Raritan Greenway assisted in the preservation of this property.

  • DEP protected a 15-acre, wooded West Amwell Township property that adjoins the United Water Property preserved in 2003 and other preserved lands in the Sourlands and is a critical link for connecting lands. Delaware & Raritan Greenway also helped to preserve this property.

The Sourlands region contains 25,000 acres of contiguous forest, 7,500 acres of wetlands and 18,186 acres of agricultural land (as of 1995) in active production. Groundwater recharge and various streams in the Sourlands supply the Delaware & Raritan Canal, which provides water to about one million New Jersey residents.

The Sourlands region's forests and wetlands provide habitat to threatened and endangered animal species including the barred owl, bobcat, Cooper's hawk, grasshopper sparrow, savannah sparrow, upland sandpiper and wood turtle. In addition, the Sourlands serves as a stopover area for migratory birds that travel between South and Central America and the Arctic as well as forest birds migrating between Washington, D.C., and Boston. The area also supports a large population of deep-woods birds such as scarlet tanagers and barred owls.

Preserving open space in the Sourland Mountain region is among the Green Acres Program's top priorities. Since Governor McGreevey took office, the Green Acres Program has protected a total of 2,075 acres in the Sourlands region. Under its State Land Acquisition Program, Green Acres preserved 1,418 acres at a cost of $9.23 million. Green Acres also has several active projects and is negotiating with multiple landowners to purchase nearly 500 additional acres through the State Land Acquisition Program at a projected cost of $2.8 million.

The Green Acres Program also made expenditures of $2.27 million to local partners to protect 656.7 acres in the Sourlands and approved an additional $7.45 million for local land acquisition in the Sourland Mountain region under the McGreevey Administration.

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.

 

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