NJDEP, INTERIOR DEPT. OFFICIALS CELEBRATE LAND TRANSFER
AT GREAT SWAMP
State and federal officials announced an
agreement today that paves the way for conversion of part
of a Superfund site into a visitor and environmental education
facility at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) purchased the site, which adjoins the refuge, after
asbestos contamination was discovered. Under the memorandum
signed today, the state Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP), a partner in the site remediation, is receiving $300,000
from the federal government to maintain the site. About
26 acres of uncontaminated land will be given to the U.S.
Department of the Interior.
"I look forward to continuing to work
to see that this property is transformed from an environmental
blight to a model of environmental restoration," said
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen.
EPA purchased the 30-acre site, formerly
known as the Tielmann property, in 1998 and oversaw the
clean-up process, which included encapsulating the asbestos
in cement on about four acres of the property.
"This refuge is a testament to the
good that can be accomplished when interested citizens come
together in an important cause. And this is not an isolated
case. More than 100 Superfund sites across America have
been cleaned up and made available to their communities
for productive use," said EPA Administrator Christie
DEP will maintain the roughly four-acre
remediated area which includes groundwater monitoring wells
on the property, and will be responsible for maintenance
of grassed portions of the remediated area.
"This partnership has resulted in
a remediated site, an expansion of the refuge and the opportunity
to increase environmental education. An environmental problem
has become an environmental asset," said DEP Commissioner
"The Great Swamp National Wildlife
Refuge is an ecological gem that will shine a little brighter
under this agreement," said U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service Acting Regional Director Dr. Richard O. Bennett.
"On behalf of the Service, I want to extend our thanks
to the many individuals and agencies whose collaborative
efforts are benefiting our constituents and our environment."
"The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
is very excited whenever we add land to the refuge, and
can preserve wildlife habitat forever. Adding this property,
however, also provides us with an opportunity to upgrade
some of our public use facilities, expand our trails system
and help restore a portion of the ecosystem," stated
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Manager Bill Koch.
"The land includes a large barn, which we hope to convert
into a 100-seat auditorium, and a base for outdoor environmental
education activities. The house would become a visitor contact
point, gift shop operated by the Friends of the Great Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge, temporary lodging for refuge interns,
and staff offices."
Exotic plant species from the former nursery
operation would be replaced with native plants, shrubs and
trees. A more complete assessment of the property and buildings
will be conducted, and a use plan will be developed by the
"I think this is a very nice New Year's
gift to Americans and their future generations. I want to
thank the agencies and the many people who have made this
agreement possible. Their time, patience and cooperation
demonstrate a true partnership. The support and personal
attention expressed by Congressman Frelinghuysen was no
less than instrumental to the success of the partnership,"
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge,
seven miles south of Morristown, receives approximately
375,000 visitors annually. The eastern half of the 7,500-acre
refuge was designated by Congress as the Department of the
Interior's first National Wilderness Area in 1968. The refuge
includes 8 miles of trails, hosts more than 240 kinds of
birds, 600 species of plants, and 26 threatened or endangered
species. For more information, contact the refuge at 973-425-1222.