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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2005

Contact: Erin Phalon
(609) 984-1795

DEP, EIT and NJWSA PRESERVE HIGHLANDS PROPERTY

Acquisition Will Protect Hunterdon County's Spruce Run Watershed

(05/63) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the preservation of a 112-acre property located in the Spruce Run Reservoir watershed in Union and Bethlehem townships in Hunterdon County. The DEP Green Acres Program purchased the Highlands property in partnership with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA), Union Township and the Environmental Infrastructure Trust.

"The preservation of this property further demonstrates the state of New Jersey's commitment to protect open space in the Highlands region," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "The Spruce Run initiative protects water resources and provides space for public recreation using funds provided by those who drink the Spruce Run's water."

The preserved property, which is located on Pattenburg Road, contains open fields, steep slopes and wooded areas. The Category One-designated Mulhockaway Creek runs through the property. The DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and Union Township will manage the property for passive recreation.

"This acquisition is another victory toward the protection of the Spruce Run Reservoir watershed," said Commissioner Campbell. "DEP's partnership with EIT and NJWSA has resulted in the permanent preservation of almost 1,000 acres in the Spruce Run watershed. I look forward to continued progress as we approach this milestone."

This property was purchased at a total cost of $1,599,583. NJWSA contributed $439,706, Union Township contributed $213,706, and the DEP Green Acres Program contributed $557,614 in State Acquisition funds and $388,557 through a Planning Assistance Grant to Union Township. EIT financed NJWSA's contribution.

"The New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust began financing open space purchases in 2001 and has provided over $52 million dollars for the preservation of 43 properties," said EIT Chairman Robert A Briant, Sr. "We are proud to assist in the effort to protect our water supplies."

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.

"The preservation of this 112-acre property along the Mulhockaway Creek, which feeds the Spruce Run Reservoir, is a continuation of NJWSA's commitment to our acquisition partners, our neighbors and our downstream users, to protect our water supplies," said NJWSA Executive Director Henry Patterson III.

The purchase of this property 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. The objective is to maximize the efficiency of existing watershed preservation programs through a coordinated effort of government, non-profit, and private resources.

"Union Township is pleased to have been able to partner with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority and the DEP Green Acres Program in preserving this important property," said Mayor Michael Beck. "Protecting water quality and well as preserving our rural quality of life in Union Township is an important part of Union Township's open space preservation program."

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 16 counties.

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 1,454 acres of open space. To date, Green Acres has protected over 568,000 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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Last Updated: May 19, 2005