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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

March 14, 2005

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795


Site Includes Native American Dwelling

(05/18) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of a 134-acre parcel known as Maple Grange in Vernon Township, Sussex County. The Highlands property contains the historic Black Creek archaeological site, which once was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape Native Americans.

"Preserving Maple Grange will protect the site from development and enable the State to interpret the history of New Jersey's indigenous Lenni Lenape population," said Commissioner Campbell. "This acquisition also highlights the importance of non-governmental efforts to preserve open space. While the state ultimately purchased the site, the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation New Jersey and the Vernon Civic Association were instrumental in saving this archaeological gem from development."

The DEP Green Acres Program purchased Maple Grange from Vernon Township at a cost of $804,000. DEP will manage the property as part of Wawayanda State Park.

The property's creek and wetlands complex provide habitat for the State-endangered American bittern and the State-threatened wood turtle. The land, which is adjacent to the Appalachian Trail Corridor, provides scenic views of the Hamburg, Pochuck and Wawayanda Mountains.

The purchase of Maple Grange protects archaeological resources. The 40-acre Black Creek site, which is listed on the state and National Registers of Historic Places, is one of the last northern New Jersey areas occupied by the Lenni Lenape. Thousands of artifacts, including chert, stone and pottery, have been recovered from the property and reflect 10,000 years of intermittent human habitation.

On December 7, 2004, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed legislation that strengthened the state's ability to protect archaeological sites and artifacts from unauthorized excavation and removal.

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.

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.



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