DEP ANNOUNCES 92-ACRE ADDITION TO
DELAWARE AND RARITAN CANAL STATE PARK
(04/111) Stockton -- Emphasizing the importance
of preserving New Jersey's water resources, Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell
today announced the preservation of a 92-acre tract known
as the My Ben property in Stockton Borough and Delaware
Township in Hunterdon County. DEP will manage the property
as part of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park.
"This is another victory in our ongoing fight against
sprawl," said Governor James E. McGreevey. "In
addition to other outstanding preservation efforts - from
the Highlands to the Shore - the preservation of the My
Ben property is a reflection of our commitment to protecting
drinking water for residents throughout our great state."
The purchase of My Ben protected the property's threatened
species habitat, water resources and historic resources
from development. Prior to the acquisition, a developer
gained preliminary permit approval for the development of
44 town homes on the property. The development of the property
would have threatened the water quality of the Delaware
and Raritan Canal, which provides 75 million gallons of
water per day to New Jersey residents. The property also
contains habitat suitable for threatened species including
the barred owl and bog turtle.
"The My Ben property will make an excellent addition
to the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park," said
Commissioner Campbell. "This project demonstrates the
importance of forming partnerships at the municipal, county,
state and federal levels to preserve drinking water and
to protect threatened-species habitat and historic resources
from impending development."
Commissioner Campbell announced the acquisition at Stockton
Elementary School, New Jersey's oldest, smallest continuously
operating three-room school house, which is adjacent to
the My Ben property. Joining him at the announcement were
local open space preservation advocates including Stockton
Mayor Gregg Rackin.
"The preservation of the My Ben tract is an example
of government taking decisive action at its very best,"
said Mayor Rackin. "With this acquisition, the Department
of Environmental Protection partnered with Stockton Borough
and Hunterdon County to preserve land on the brink of development.
Preserving this property prevented negative environmental
impact, and will allow the Borough of Stockton to retain
its historic small town character."
The DEP Green Acres Program preserved the $3.5 million
property in partnership with Hunterdon County and Stockton
Borough. Green Acres contributed $2,700,000 in State Land
Acquisition funds as well as a $400,000 Local Assistance
matching grant and a $200,000 Local Assistance loan to Stockton
Borough. Hunterdon County awarded Stockton Borough $200,000
from its open space tax fund to match the Green Acres grant.
The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) will
provide a $1.35 million grant to reimburse Green Acres for
one-half of its State Land Acquisition contribution.
The My Ben property is also historically valuable; the
property was a pre-Columbian Native American dwelling place
and later was owned by a Revolutionary War hero, Captain
John Anderson, who purchased the property in 1792. The Borough
of Stockton hopes to provide natural and historic resource
interpretation to park visitors.
"The My Ben acquisition will be of enormous benefit
not only to the residents of Stockton but to hundreds of
thousands of other New Jerseyans as well," said Senator
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 68,952 acres of open space- 45,873 acres for
state projects, 11,797 acres for local projects and 11,282
acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program
has protected more than 551,358 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 1.27 million acres.