& NONPROFIT PARTNERS PRESERVE HIGHLANDS TRACT
Property Will Expand
Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area
TRENTON (05/90) -- Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced
the preservation of the 525-acre Koehler property in Rockaway
Township, Morris County. The protection of this Highlands Preservation
Area property will conserve water resources, threatened and endangered
species habitat and scenic views. The Morris County Open Space
Trust, the Morris Land Conservancy, the Rockaway Township Open
Space Trust and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) also contributed
to the purchase.
"Protecting our drinking water and open space remains among
the State of New Jersey's highest priorities," said Acting
Governor Richard J. Codey.
"The preservation of the Koehler property complements DEP's
preservation of the nearby Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area
and reinforces our commitment to work with local and nonprofit
partners to protect open space in the Highlands Preservation Area,"
said Commissioner Campbell.
The Koehler tract is heavily wooded and provides critical habitat
for threatened and endangered species including the bobcat, barred
owl, bald eagle, Indiana bat, red-shouldered hawk and wood turtle.
Preservation of the Koehler property protects the Split Rock
Reservoir watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than
three million New Jersey residents. The property is adjacent to
the Split Rock Reservoir and contains a tributary of the Beaver
Brook, which serves as the headwaters for the Rockaway River.
The property also includes Category One-designated streams and
"This is the kind of preservation project that Morris County
is proud to be part of -- bringing together a generous, visionary
landowner; a strongly conservation-minded town; two exceptional
land organizations; plus the State of New Jersey and the federal
government," said Morris County Freeholder Director Jack
Schrier. "With Morris County's contribution of $2 million,
one-third of the total, we are delighted we could make this a
DEP will manage the property as an addition to the adjacent 3,100-acre
Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area. The Koehler property contains
two miles of the 40-mile Farny Highlands Trail Network, a regional
trail system connecting state, county and municipal parks in the
"The Koehler Estate property is a vital missing link in
our long-term plan to preserve a connected series of open spaces
in the northern Morris County region known as the Farny Highlands,"
said Morris Land Conservancy Executive Director David Epstein.
"It is exciting to complete this project with the Koehler
family which helped us design the original preservation plans
for this region nearly 15 years ago."
"The Trust for Public Land has worked for more than two
decades to protect the watersheds of the Highlands. "We are
pleased to have played a role in preserving this land with the
state, adding to the more than 29,000 Highlands acres we have
protected to date," said TPL New Jersey Director Terrence
DEP purchased the $6.12 million Koehler property in partnership
with Morris County Open Space Trust, the Morris Land Conservancy,
the Rockaway Township Open Space Trust and the Trust for Public
Land (TPL). The DEP Green Acres program contributed $3.4 million
in state acquisition funds and nonprofit grants to the Morris
Land Conservancy and TPL. The Morris County Open Space Trust contributed
$2 million, the Rockaway Township Open Space Trust contributed
$600,000 and TPL contributed $120,000. The Federal Forest Legacy
fund is expected to reimburse DEP $1 million for the purchase
of the property.
"The Koehler property and the entire Highlands region sit
at the center of the most densely populated area of the country,"
said Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. "The purchase of the
Koehler tract is a major victory for preserving pristine land,
and it further demonstrates our commitment to taking every step
necessary to protect open space in the Highlands."
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
"Rockaway Township is proud to be a part of a large group
that has worked very hard for the past decade to preserve a 525-acre
portion of the Koehler land," said Rockaway Township Mayor
Louis S. Sceusi.
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 over 11,188 acres
of open space. To date, Green Acres has protected over 569,000
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.