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July 22, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP Green Acres Preserves 45 Acres in Highlands

Property Will Provide Fishing Access to Musconetcong River

(04/89) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that the DEP Green Acres program purchased 45 acres of wooded land along the Musconetcong River in Bloomsbury Borough, Hunterdon County. The land is located within the Highlands region and will be managed for passive recreation and fishing by the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife.

"Every acre that we preserve in the Highlands region helps protect our most precious natural resource - clean drinking water," said Governor James E. McGreevey. "The health of the Musconetcong River is especially important, as the river is a popular attraction among the 14 million people who visit the Highlands each year."

The preservation of this property will increase fishing access, help to protect the quality of the Musconetcong River and preserve the habitat of native plants and animals. This acquisition will provide an additional 1,925 feet of river frontage to the Musconetcong River. The DEP Green Acres Program paid $125,000 for the land, which is contiguous to a 60-acre State-owned property as well as Hunterdon County's Musconetcong Gorge Preserve. The addition of this half-mile link will provide public access to a total of 2.3 contiguous miles along the Musconetcong River.

"Protecting this land in its natural state will safeguard the water quality of the Musconetcong, which is the only river located exclusively within the New Jersey Highlands," said Commissioner Campbell. "At the same time, this land will give residents statewide the opportunity to enjoy one of New Jersey's premier trout fishing and canoeing locales."

The purchase of this property reflects Governor McGreevey's commitment to expand access to fishing waters by purchasing easements. On April 15, 2002, Governor McGreevey directed DEP to use Green Acres funds to purchase permanent easements for access rights (separate from development rights) along productive fishing streams that allow the public to wade and walk along the streambed and banks in key areas of the state.

"The Musconetcong River is one of the finest examples of an East Coast limestone stream," said Agust Gudmundsson, Chairman of the New Jersey State Council of Trout Unlimited. "The clean cool spring waters and diverse aquatic insect population make it trout heaven. With the dreadnought of sprawl always looming in the Highlands, Trout Unlimited welcomes the addition of all open space, especially along a Riparian corrider as important as the Musconetcong River."

The Musconetcong River is a major tributary of the Delaware River that offers excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year. The DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife each Spring stocks the Bloomsbury area of the Musconetcong River with 2,500 brown, rainbow and brook trout. The Musconetcong River is one of New Jersey's premier trout waters, which contributes to Warren County's rank as the third most popular fishing destination of New Jersey's 21 counties.

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering legislation that would include portions of the Musconetcong River in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

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 some or all of the 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 habitat.

Since Governor McGreevey took office, the Green Acres Program has acquired 65,164 acres of open space-43,668 acres for state projects, 10,703 acres for local projects and 10,793 acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 547,557 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 1.26 million acres.



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