DEP EARMARKS FUNDING TO
IMPROVE PUBLIC ACCESS
AT KEN LOCKWOOD GORGE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
(06/59) TRENTON - Department of Environmental
Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced that the
DEP will spend $150,000 in capital funding to improve public access
to Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area, renowned for its
extraordinary natural beauty and popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
The funding, included in the 2007 state budget Governor Jon S.
Corzine signed in July, will enable the DEP to correct longstanding
drainage problems along a two-mile gravel road paralleling a stretch
of the South Branch of the Raritan River, which runs through breathtaking
Ken Lockwood Gorge in Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County. Repeated
washouts have made the roadway less safe for drivers, and erosion
into the river has raised concerns about water quality.
"Ken Lockwood Gorge is an exquisite piece of New Jersey's
landscape, revered by trout anglers, hikers and cyclists,"
Commissioner Jackson said. "Governor Corzine recognizes these
natural resources need protection and made it possible to begin
tackling long-overdue repairs. But the fact remains, New Jersey
needs a reliable source of funding for maintenance and capital improvements
at all of its wildlife areas, parks and historic sites. In November,
voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on whether these special
places get the care they deserve."
In addition to improving drainage to help protect the river's water
quality, the project calls for transforming the gravel road into
a pedestrian trail and closing it to vehicular traffic. Parking
areas will be created at both ends of the trail, and are expected
to enable more visitors to enjoy the area's recreational offerings
and scenic views.
Named for the late Kenneth F. Lockwood, a luminary in wildlife
conservation and longtime reporter for the Newark Evening News,
the gorge is among dozens of wildlife management areas, parks and
historic sites forced to go without regular maintenance and necessary
capital improvements because there is no stable source of state
funding for such projects. Today, deferred repairs and improvements
at these sites will cost an estimated $250 million.
On Nov. 7, New Jersey voters will be asked to consider a constitutional
amendment that would provide a dedicated source of funding - $15
million a year until 2015 and $32 million annually beginning in
2016 - for maintenance and capital improvements at wildlife areas,
historic sites and state parks. Without requiring any new taxes,
Public Question 2 would allow revenues already generated through
the Corporate Business Tax Fund to be used for maintenance and capital-improvement
Voters' approval of Public Question 2 would guarantee a stable
source of state funding every year for maintenance and capital improvements
at New Jersey's parks, historic sites and wildlife areas. If voters
reject the ballot proposal, these projects will receive minimal
or no state funding annually.
The first portion of the 400-acre Ken Lockwood tract was purchased
in 1948 with hunting and fishing license fees; later, more acreage
was acquired through the state's Green Acres Program. The gorge
was dedicated as a memorial to Lockwood in 1949, the year after
his death at age 67.
In 2002, Lockwood was identified as one of New Jersey's best-known
conservationists for the first half of the 20th century and one
of Newark's Literary Lights in a special publication to commemorate
the Newark Public Library's designation as a New Jersey Literary
Landmark. For more than 35 years, Lockwood wrote the widely read
Newark News column "Out in the Open" and is credited with
sparking the state's trout-stocking program. The publication featured
Lockwood among some 60 others, including famed author Washington
Irving, poet Stephen Crane and American Revolutionary War pamphleteer
To learn more about Ballot Question #2, visit: www.NJSOS.org