Green Acres Program Preserves 368 Acres in Highlands Region
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
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
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
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.