Preservation of 600 Highlands Acres
Acquisition Will Expand Allamuchy
Mountain State Park
May 10, 2004…Mount Olive Township, NJ…
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell and the Trust for Public
Land (TPL) today announced the preservation of the Crown
Towers property, approximately 600 acres in Mount Olive
Township, Morris County. The protection of this Highlands
property will protect wildlife habitat, provide public recreation
opportunities and preserve drinking water resources for
New Jersey residents. The DEP Division of Parks and Forestry
will manage Crown Towers as an addition to the 7,770-acre
Allamuchy Mountain State Park.
"The protection of these 600 acres is testament to
the success that occurs when public and private groups unite
behind a common goal," said Governor James E. McGreevey.
"The Crown Towers property is one of the many natural
treasures found in the Highlands region. By preserving this
land we help ensure that the region continues to be a source
of clean drinking water for generations to come."
"Preserving open space in the Highlands region is
our gift to today's New Jersey residents as well as future
generations who will rely on the Highlands for drinking
water and recreational opportunities," said Commissioner
Campbell. "This partnership reflects Governor James
E. McGreevey’s leadership in the fight to protect
critical natural resources and to save the vulnerable Highlands
Slated for subdivision, the Trust for Public Land negotiated
the purchase of Crown Towers from a private developer.
"If it weren’t for the partnership of every
level of government, this landscape — so critical
for habitat, recreation, and perhaps most importantly, our
drinking water — would have been converted to development,"
said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the Trust for Public
Land. "They would be digging right now if we hadn't
signed it up."
The acquisition was announced with the New Jersey Congressional
delegation, Morris County Freeholder Director Jack Schrier,
and Mount Olive Mayor Richard De La Roche at Budd Lake Union
Chapel in Mount Olive.
The $7.7 million property was purchased with funding from
the USDA Forest Legacy Program, which contributed $3.2 million;
the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund, which provided
$2 million; the DEP Green Acres Program, which gave $1.3
million; Mount Olive Township, which contributed $1 million;
and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which provided
$200,000 through a grant to the Trust for Public Land.
The Federal government's recent efforts to conserve land
include the introduction of the Highlands Conservation Act,
which would make additional funds available to the Highlands
states for land conservation efforts. The New York-New Jersey
Highlands have lost roughly 5,000 acres to development during
each of the last ten years.
"The purchase of Crown Towers was a genuine partnership
of federal, state, local and private interests serving the
public good, and I'm pleased to have been able to lead the
effort in Congress to secure this funding," said Rep.
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11). "Crown Towers can now
be a national model for what can be accomplished when all
sides come together and work cooperatively, in the name
of open space preservation. It also can be a model for my
how my federal, more comprehensive, Highlands Conservation
Act will work."
"This is a property of enormous environmental significance,"
said Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ). "Preserving it will
protect water quality and biodiversity as well as preserve
open space and provide recreation opportunities for millions
of New Jerseyans. I was proud to work with my colleagues,
Senator Lautenberg and Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen,
in securing federal funding to help preserve it for future
generations to enjoy."
"The USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program has
been supporting forest conservation in New Jersey for a
number of years. Since 1997, the Forest Legacy Program has
provided $2.26 million to New Jersey to protect five tracts
that amount to 2,597 acres," said Kathryn Maloney,
Northeastern area director for the USDA Forest Service.
"In New Jersey, it is only through partnerships involving
all levels of government as well as private groups that
we can hope to preserve treasures like Crown Towers for
the future," said Mark Shaffer, director of the Environment
Program for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, a major
contributor to land conservation in the New Jersey Highlands
region for many years.
"Morris County — for more than a decade a state
leader in open space preservation — is delighted to
be playing a key role in protecting this important property.
Now, instead of losing this valuable natural resource to
development, it will be forever protected. We commend everyone
involved in this unique public/private partnership,"
said Freeholder Director Jack Schrier.
"Local participation and support was key to this project.
Our partnership in such a large project highlights how private
citizens, government, and nonprofit groups can work together
for such a positive result. Four years of hard work and
intricate negotiations will benefit the public forever.
It is the policy of this administration to preserve as much
land as possible," said Mayor De La Roche.
Crown Towers is located in the Upper Delaware watershed
on the ridge between the Musconetcong and Raritan River
watersheds. The tributaries in the Upper Delaware Watershed
are among the Delaware River's most pristine, making this
section of the river one of its most crucial segments and
a priority area for preservation in the New Jersey Highlands.
The Crown Towers property consists mainly of forest cover
and includes mountainous terrain with steep slopes, freshwater
wetlands and headwater streams.
The eastern portion of Crown Towers contains the headwaters
of the South Branch of the Raritan River, a noted native
trout stream. The Raritan River provides drinking water
to residents of 48 municipalities in Hunterdon, Mercer,
Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union Counties. Fifty-five
percent of the Raritan River’s source water area is
located in the Highlands region.
Preserving open space in the Highlands is one of the State
of New Jersey’s top priorities. During Governor James
E. McGreevey’s first term in office, the state has
preserved an estimated 7,200 acres of farmland in the Highlands,
protected approximately 22,000 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 state.
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
habitats. Approximately 110,000 acres of agricultural lands
are in active production in the New Jersey Highlands region.
The region contains many sites of historic significance
and provides abundant recreational opportunities.
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land
conservation organization that conserves land for people
to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring
livable communities for generations to come. With a state
office in Morristown, TPL has been active in the protection
of the Highlands for more than a decade. To date, TPL has
helped protect approximately 26,000 acres in the New York-New
Jersey Highlands. Earlier this year, TPL protected the 1,200-acre
Gerard Woods property in Sussex County and 43 acres in Sparta
Township. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support
and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses
to achieve our land for people mission.