Sunday, June 18, 2017

1,000-acre nature preserve in Sourlands closer to reality

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation reports:

A plan to create a 1,042-acre nature preserve in the Sourland Mountains, spanning the border of Hunterdon and Somerset counties, has taken a significant step forward.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation announced today that it has secured an option from landowner John Higgins to purchase 269 key acres in East Amwell Township, Hunterdon County. The property is a connector between 151 acres preserved earlier this year and 622 preserved acres in neighboring Hillsborough Township, Somerset County.
“This beautiful property is another piece of the puzzle to create more than 1,000 contiguous acres of preserved land for public enjoyment and wildlife habitat,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We’re very pleased to secure the option from John Higgins, who has already preserved hundreds of acres. We’re grateful to Mr. Higgins for agreeing to sell this property, and we look forward to completing the purchase in 2018.”
The announcement of the purchase agreement was made at a gathering on the property to celebrate Open Space Month in June.
Open Space Month celebrates the rich variety of lands that have been permanently preserved throughout the state and highlights the importance of continuing to preserve natural areas and farmland. It also recognizes the essential role of public-private funding partnerships that can leverage state funding with county, local and private funds.
Located off Wertsville Road, the 269-acre Higgins property contains woodlands, farm fields, a scenic lake and several tributaries of the Neshanic River. The Neshanic flows into the Raritan River, a source of drinking water for over a million New Jerseyans.
Once the purchase is completed, the land will be open to the public for passive recreational activities, including, hiking, horseback riding, birding and nature observation.
The 1,042 acres will be managed as a single preserve spanning Somerset and Hunterdon counties.
Funding Partners
Funding partners for the project will include the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Hunterdon County, East Amwell Township, Raritan Headwaters Association and Hunterdon Land Trust.
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