RELEASE CONTACT: DEP, NJWSA AND LOCAL PARTNERS
PRESERVE THREE HIGHLANDS PROPERTIES
Acquisitions Will Protect
Hunterdon County's Spruce Run Watershed
(05/17) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation
of three properties located in the Spruce Run Reservoir watershed
in the Highlands region. The DEP Green Acres Program purchased
these properties, which comprise 132 acres, in partnership with
the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA), Bethlehem Township,
Clinton Township and Lebanon Township.
"This preservation initiative enables the State of New Jersey
to protect vulnerable open space in the Highlands region using
funds from a variety of sources, including from those who live
downstream and use its water," said Acting Governor Richard
Spruce Run Reservoir, which is designated a Category One waterbody,
augments the resources of the Raritan River. 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.
"This acquisition proves again that critics of the Highlands
Protection Act are wrong," said Commissioner Campbell. "DEP
is committed to providing landowners equity and safeguarding water
resources under the Act. I call on critics to open a new chapter
of cooperation with DEP and the Highlands Council."
The three properties, which are located in Bethlehem Township,
Clinton Township and Lebanon Township, contain fields and woodlands
that serve as habitat to migratory songbirds and threatened grassland
birds. In addition, the preservation of these properties will
protect streams that support trout and wetlands that support endangered
species including the bog turtle and the spotted salamander. DEP
will manage the properties for passive recreation.
Commissioner Campbell announced the preservation of the following
- The 54.26-acre Van Leight property, which is located on Mine
Road in Bethlehem Township and contains two tributaries of the
Mulhockaway Creek. This property was purchased by Bethlehem
Township, which contributed $91,206, the DEP Green Acres Program,
which provided $305,919 through a Planning Incentive Grant to
Bethlehem Township, and NJWSA, which contributed $91,206. The
property is part of an extensive greenway within the forested
Musconetcong Mountain region, which provides filtration of ground
water resources and habitat for migrant songbirds as well as
the endangered bobcat.
- The 58-acre Nicholson property was purchased with a $145,000
payment from NJWSA, $133,900 from Lebanon Township and a $301,100
Green Acres Planning Incentive Grant to Lebanon Township. The
Nicholson property, which is located in Lebanon Township, contains
tributaries of the Spruce Run.
- The 19.5-acre Ciano property, located in Clinton Township,
was purchased by NJWSA, which provided $175,000; Clinton Township,
which contributed a $175,000 DEP Green Acres Planning Incentive
Grant; and DEP, which contributed $350,000. The Ciano property
is directly adjacent to the Spruce Run Reservoir and existing
preserved state lands. The preservation of this property will
protect interior forest species.
"Lebanon Township is proud to be working as part of a region
to make sound preservation decisions that benefit local residents
and downstream New Jersey residents," said Lebanon Township
Open Space and Farmland Preservation Coordinator Eileen Swan.
"We can achieve so much more when we work together. We are
also grateful to DEP for its continued support in the form of
grant monies and staff time."
The purchase of the Ciano, Nicholson and Van Leight properties
is part of NJWSA's Spruce Run Initiative, which dedicates a portion
of its Raritan Basin System ratepayer funds to assisting local,
county and state governments in the preservation of critical watershed
properties in the Spruce Run Reservoir watershed. The Initiative's
objective is to maximize the efficiency of existing watershed
preservation programs through a coordinated effort of government,
non-profit, and private resources.
"Preservation of these critical watershed parcels illustrates
the value of partnership among governmental entities in the pursuit
of a common goal," said NJWSA Executive Director Henry Patterson
III. "Such projects demonstrate our customers' continued
commitment to preserving the high quality of Raritan Basin water
for New Jersey's residents."
The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,000 square mile area in the Northwest
part of the State, stretching from Phillipsburg in the Southwest
to Ringwood in the Northeast. It lies within portions of seven
counties and 87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey
residents, about 5.4 million people, receive their water from
the Highlands. Those residents live in 292 municipalities, in
"I congratulate the DEP and its Green Acres Program for
preserving these critical water supply areas," said Highlands
Council Chairman John Weingart. "The Highlands Council looks
forward to continuing to work with the Department as we develop
our overall plan for the protection of the region's drinking water
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
In 2005, the Green Acres Program has preserved 1,344 acres of
open space. To date, Green Acres has protected 558,632 acres of
open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide.
The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals
almost 1.3 million acres.