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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2004

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

DEP CELEBRATES WITH NJ CONSERVATION FOUNDATION SIGNIFICANT PINELANDS OPEN SPACE ACQUISITION
9,400 Acres to be Managed as Nature Preserve

(04/106) WOODLAND -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today joined former Governor James Florio, Congressman Rush Holt, Senator Martha Bark, and members of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) to celebrate the dedication of 9,400 acres of open space in the Pinelands to be managed as the Franklin Parker Preserve.

"This significant open space acquisition marks the final chapter in a story that began with a serious threat to wetlands protection and now ends with preservation and restoration of environmentally sensitive wetlands," said Commissioner Campbell. "The New Jersey Conservation Foundation's acquisition of this property, aided by DEP funds, will protect the unique Pinelands ecosystem."

The property's former owner, A.R. DeMarco Enterprises, sold the 14-square mile property to NJCF for $12 million. The DEP contributed $3.5 million from the State Land Acquisition Fund towards the purchase and retains a 40-percent ownership in the property, which will be managed and maintained by NJCF.

The preserved site includes several hundred acres of reservoirs and wetlands, including 600 acres of Atlantic white cedar swamp. The property will be managed as a preserve by NJCF to provide passive recreational opportunities such as hiking and bird watching. The property is home to critical habitat for several threatened and endangered species including the bald eagle and the Pine Barrens tree frog.

This year, DEP finalized a penalty settlement with A.R. DeMarco Enterprises concluding a long-standing issue over DeMarco's conversion of 22 acres of wetlands into cranberry bogs in 1998. Under the settlement agreement, the company agreed to a $400,000 fine and agreed to restore the impacted wetlands.

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