129 Acres Conserved as Public Natural Area will protect Dixon’s Pond

A conservation deal completed today will protect more than 129 acres south of Decker Road in Rockaway and Boonton Townships, The Trust for Public Land, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Morris County announced. The property adds to a complex network of more than 5,000 acres of public conservation land in this section of the New Jersey Highlands.

The land supports critical water resources in the Highlands, including a tributary of the Stony Brook, a Rockaway River watershed stream, and Dixon’s Pond. Although the pond will not be open to the public, future hiking trails on the property will enjoy lake views. The property has been a priority for conservation within the New Jersey Highlands for many years. With this conservation purchase The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, has protected four priority properties in the two towns. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) will own and manage the land for natural resource protection and public access for hiking and nature viewing. In 2010 the same partners preserved the nearby 63-acre Copper Beech, which is adjacent to the state’s Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

“Expanding Morris County conservation areas such as Wildcat Ridge and Pyramid Mountain with great natural areas like this one near Dixon’s Pond play a large part in the quality of life for New Jersey residents,” said Anthony Cucchi, TPL’s New Jersey director. “The County’s commitment to protect Highlands natural areas is also critical to water quality in the region. We are grateful to Morris County, the State of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation for their close and dedicated partnership to this project.”

“We are pleased to work with The Trust for Public Land, Morris County, and the state to permanently protect this beautiful wooded property and expand the area’s network of preserved lands,” said Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “The Dixon’s Pond property is a true Highlands gem. It contains valuable wetlands, as well as rocky outcrops with wonderful views of the water.”

Major funding for the $1.74 million purchase price came from Morris County. The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders provided $1.2 million through a grant from the open space portion of the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Additional funding included $325,000 granted from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program to Boonton Township and TPL, $150,000 from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, and $65,000 from the Johanette Wallerstein Institute.

“There are several large tracts of preserved land already in this area including Copper Beech and the Wildcat Ridge Management Area,” said Freeholder Ann F. Grossi, liaison to the county’s open space program. “Preserving Dixon’s Pond builds upon the preserved lands in the region. Also, with this acquisition, Morris County has preserved more than 20,500 acres through the Preservation Trust Fund, with more than 2,800 acres pending preservation.”

“The Christie Administration is committed to the protection of open space and New Jersey’s natural resources,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. “The DEP is proud to be playing an important role in this joint effort to preserve the Dixon’s Pond property, an acquisition that will protect water quality in the Highlands region.”

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, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres nationwide, including more than 25,000 acres in New Jersey. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations. Visit tpl.org/newjersey.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, it has protected more than 120,000 acres of open space – from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation’s programs and preserves, go to njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

Media Contacts:

Anthony Cucchi, The Trust for Public Land, T. 973.292.1100, x.16, anthony.cucchi@tpl.org

Ingrid Vandegaer, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, T. 908.719.3414 x.113, ingrid@njconservation.org

Barbara Murray, Morris County Open Space Trust, T. 973.829.8120, bmurray@co.morris.nj.us