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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

September 29, 2004

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795


(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 Leonard Lance.

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.




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