DEP Wins Victory for Historic Preservation: Remaining Portion of
Black Creek Site Listed to New Jersey Register of Historic Places
(04/39) Trenton - Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today applauded a court ruling in favor of DEP's
position that all 40-acres of the Black Creek Native American
Site must be protected and its history preserved.
"I'm grateful that the court has vindicated
our efforts to save a precious resource from destruction,"
said Campbell. "New Jersey could have lost thousands
of years of Native American history. We always support local
community efforts to develop recreational spaces but it
need not come at the expense of other local treasures like
the Black Creek Native American site. I am also pleased
that the court recognized our efforts to accommodate the
interests of the township prior to listing the site.
The Black Creek Native American Site, in
Vernon Township, Sussex County is a 40-acre parcel of land
with significant archaeological and historic value.
"Ten thousand years of human history
are now saved, not just for Native Americans, but all citizens
who respect history and for their sons and daughters,"
said the Tribe's attorney, Greg Werkheiser of the law firm
of Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice. "The Tribe is
most grateful for this decision. We thank the Commissioner
of the DEP for his courage, and the hundreds of supporters
who have stood by the Tribe during this long battle for
their humble dedication. Your friendship will not be forgotten."
Previously, four acres of the south field
portion of the site were not included when the DEP originally
listed the site in January 2002. The remaining four acres
were remanded back to the State Review Board for further
However, in April 2002, just moments before
Vernon Township called an emergency meeting to hire a contractor
to bulldoze the area to create recreational playing fields,
Commissioner Campbell listed the remaining four acres of
the Black Creek Site to the NJ Register of Historic Places.
This was later appealed by the Township of Vernon.
Thousands of artifacts dating from approximately
8500 BC to 1700 AD have been uncovered at the Black Creek
Site which is one of the last areas to exhibit settlement
in northern New Jersey by the Lenni Lenape. The artifacts
uncovered are indicative of 10,000 years of human habitation
on the site.
Besides the Black Creek Site, only four
of approximately 1,626 sites listed in the NJ Register are
Native American sites. The NJ Department of Transportation
discovered the site in the early 1990's as part of a bridge
replacement project on Maple Grange Road.
Today's ruling was issued by the Superior
Court of New Jersey's Appellate Division.