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news releases

March 16, 2007

Contact: Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994
Karen Hershey (609) 984-1795


(07/12) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced the acquisition of 150 acres of open space along the Delaware River, one of the largest undeveloped tracts in Hunterdon County.

"Home to a high-quality waterway and two rare bird species, this beautiful piece of property was at risk for development, and we are proud to play a role in preserving it," said Commissioner Jackson. "This scenic land and its wealth of natural resources will be protected for the benefit of all New Jerseyans and future generations."

The $4.1 million acquisition was made possible by funding from the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Frenchtown Borough, Hunterdon County and the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance.

Located along Route 29 in Frenchtown, the property was purchased from a private owner and will be managed by DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry as part of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park. The tract consists of open fields and forested land and features a high-quality Category One stream, the Nishisakawick Creek, which traverses the property and flows into the Delaware River. A pair of osprey, a threatened species in New Jersey, was confirmed at the site in 2006. The habitat is also ideal for wintering Northern Saw-Whet owls as well as the Long-Eared owl, another threatened species in New Jersey.

To assist with the purchase, DEP's Green Acres program contributed $1.3 million in state acquisition funds and another $1.1 million in grants and loans to the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance and Frenchtown Borough. Additionally, the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance contributed $779,000 toward the purchase, including a grant of $389,500 from the Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund. Frenchtown provided funding in the amount of $709,000.

Viewed by DOT as a critical tract within the Route 29 Scenic Byway, the agency gave additional money toward the acquisition, providing the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance with $1 million in Federal Transportation Enhancement funds and another $300, 000 in Scenic Byway Program funding.

"Preserving open space in New Jersey is critical for protecting our environment, upholding our quality of life, and minimizing unplanned sprawl," said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12). "This is a perfect example of how government at all levels can work together to implement policies beneficial to the public and to future generations."

"The development of this property would have had a detrimental impact on the scenic view shed of Route 29, the state's first designated scenic byway," said DOT Commissioner Kolluri. "Just as importantly, development would have caused an increase in traffic on the byway, negatively impacting the byway traveling experience."

The largest undeveloped tract of land in Frenchtown, the parcel is critical to the Borough's plan to create a greenbelt, which will connect state and municipal parkland. The Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance will work with DEP's Division of Parks and Forestry to pursue special management projects and funding including trail development, public education programs and species habitat restoration.

"We are pleased to have played a lead role in the preservation of this large tract of land and that such a diverse representation of partners came together to protect a property which would otherwise have been developed with high density housing, detrimentally impacting the scenic beauty and natural resources of the river corridor," said Margaret Waldock, executive director of the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance.

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 forests, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

In 2006, Green Acres preserved or assisted in preserving 16,000 acres of open space. Since its inception in 1961, the program has protected more than 600,000 acres of open space, in addition to providing funding for the development of hundreds of parks throughout New Jersey. New Jersey's statewide system of preserved open space and farmland now amounts to over 1.3 million acres.




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Last Updated: March 16, 2007