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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP Green Acres Program Preserves 368 Acres in Highlands Region

Purchases will preserve open space and protect water resources

(04/42) TRENTON - Reinforcing Governor James E. McGreevey's efforts to preserve open space in the New Jersey Highlands, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of two significant properties in the Highlands region.

"Preservation of the Highlands region is important for all of New Jersey," said Governor McGreevey. "The fight to protect the Highlands is a fight for clean drinking water and pristine open spaces. By preserving these two properties, we help ensure that generations to come benefit from and continue to enjoy this region's tremendous natural resources."

The DEP Green Acres Program purchased a conservation easement on Buttonwood Game Preserve in Harmony Township and acquired the Danville Ridge property in Liberty Township from private owners at a combined cost of $1,577,715. The preservation of these properties will protect open space and water resources in the Highlands region.

"The protection of these properties reflects Governor McGreevey's steadfast commitment to saving natural resources in the Highlands," said Commissioner Campbell. "I am pleased that the Green Acres Program has created vast tracts of open space, protecting the Delaware River and Pequest River watersheds and preserving valuable avian and riparian habitat."

The 137-acre Buttonwood Game Preserve is adjacent to two farms that have previously been preserved through the State of New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture. The purchase of a conservation easement on Buttonwood Game Preserve retired development rights to the land and created a 425-acre area of total contiguous preserved land in Harmony Township.

The Buttonwood Game Preserve is an active, private pheasant hunting farm at which the public may continue to pay to hunt or to shoot sporting clays. The property contains several outbuildings and offers prime habitat for grassland bird species.

The Danville Ridge property consists of a wooded upland watershed area upstream of the Pequest State Hatchery. The land, which will be managed by the DEP Division of Parks and Forestry as part of Jenny Jump State Park, was purchased for $1,100,000 and includes the ridge of Danville Mountain. The preservation of the 231-acre property will help to protect the watershed of the Pequest River and the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center. The Pequest Trout Hatchery raises more than 600,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout each year and stocks New Jersey's public waters with these trout.

The preservation of the Buttonwood Game Preserve and Danville Ridge 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.

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 State.

The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,250 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.

The Highlands region is a critical source of drinking water. Surface and ground water sources in the Highlands supply water to 292 municipalities and 16 counties in New Jersey. The region produces one-third of the state's potable water and supplies drinking water to approximately 64% of New Jersey residents.

In addition to water resources, the Highlands region contains exceptional natural resources such as contiguous forests, wetlands, pristine watersheds and plant and wildlife species habitats. The region contains many sites of historic significance and provides abundant recreational opportunities. Approximately 110,000 acres of agricultural lands are in active production in the New Jersey Highlands region.

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 56,317acres of open space-36,134 acres for state projects, 10,319 acres for local projects and 9,864 acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 537,443 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 1.25 million acres.

 

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