Shale Valley Property Permanently Protected

April 4, 2012
Chester Township, NJ

The 46-acre Shale Valley property, located in the New Jersey Highlands of Chester and Mendham townships, has been permanently protected, The Trust for Public Land and The Schiff Natural Lands Trust announced today. The property was transferred to The Schiff Natural Lands Trust for ownership and management as a nature preserve, which will be open to the public for passive recreation.

"The Shale Valley property is a great addition to the assemblage of protected land stretching from Mount Paul County Park to the Schiff Nature Preserve," said Anthony Cucchi, New Jersey state director for The Trust for Public Land. "Thanks to a partnership between Morris County, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, the Green Acres Program, and the Schiff Natural Lands Trust, another important link in a growing network of open space has been conserved for the benefit of the public."

Consisting of mature upland woodlands and wetlands, the property will connect the Morris County-owned Mount Paul County Park and the Mendham Township-owned Burnett Brook Natural Area. Trails on the Shale Valley property will be restored and linked with existing trails on the adjacent public land.

"Schiff is delighted to continue its successful partnership with The Trust for Public Land," stated Marissa Hartzler, Executive Director of the Schiff Natural Lands Trust. "Preserving and restoring this critical link in the Schiff to Mount Paul Greenway is a key goal identified in our new strategic plan, as well as a natural extension of our community-based conservation efforts in this area over the last decade."

The Schiff Natural Lands Trust, which owns the nearby 423-acre Schiff Nature Preserve, intends to conduct a large-scale ecological restoration on a portion of the property that was previously mined for shale. It is envisioned that the restoration would convert nine-acres of the former mining area into a functioning emergent wetland and upland habitat. To support the restoration project, The Trust for Public Land will provide privately-raised funding to the Schiff Natural Lands Trust to help manage the new preserve.

Funding for the $1,697,500 purchase price was provided by a $1,188,250 grant from the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund, a $400,000 grant from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, and a $109,250 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Green Acres Program.

"Morris County is pleased to be a partner in this ambitious project," said Morris County Freeholder Ann Grossi, liaison to the Morris County Preservation Trust. "Ecologically based restoration is the most effective approach we can take to re-establish the ecological integrity of this property and to help the land recover its natural beauty for our continued use."

The project continues a long and successful partnership between The Trust for Public Land and the Schiff Natural Lands Trust. In 1984, The Trust for Public Land helped create Schiff as a new land trust. In 2008, The Trust for Public Land protected the 107-acre McVickers Brook Preserve, which is adjacent to the Schiff Nature Preserve and is now co-owned and managed by the Schiff Natural Lands Trust and Mendham Borough. Also in 2008, The Trust for Public Land facilitated the acquisition of the 110-acre Mosle Preserve, which is jointly owned and managed by Schiff, Mendham Township and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.

"The NJDEP Green Acres Program is happy to assist with the preservation of the Shale Valley property, which links existing preserved lands and will provide an opportunity to restore a disturbed ecosystem to its natural state," said Martha Sapp, Acting Administrator of the Green Acres Program.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has helped protect 3 million acres nationwide, including more than 25,000 acres in New Jersey. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations. 

The Schiff Natural Lands Trust, Inc. is a community-based nonprofit land trust established in 1984 which has a three-fold mission to: (1) preserve and restore significant natural areas; (2) provide environmental education programs and opportunities for its members and the general public; and (3) serve as a science-based model of environmental stewardship. Schiff operates the Schiff Nature Center, and maintains more than 14 miles of multiple use trails to help the public enjoy the natural areas it owns and manages. Visit Schiff online at: schiffnaturepreserve.org

Contact:    
Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land, (973) 292-1100, X. 16, anthony.cucchi@tpl.org
Marissa Hartzler, Schiff Natural Lands Trust, (973) 543-6004, marissa@schiffnaturepreserve.org