Former Lakeside Resort Now Recreation Area (NJ)

January 5, 2006, Rockaway Township, NJ: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation group today announced the purchase of a 77-acre property in Rockaway Township for public use and recreation. Funding for the $1.3 million purchase was provided by Rockaway Township, Morris County, the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program, and a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to The Trust for Public Land. The township and the state now own the land, and Morris County plans to extend the West Morris Greenway on the property.

In the 1940s and 50s Egbert’s Lake was a summer resort and camp centered on a beautiful 15-acre lake. Over time, the cabins had become unusable and the property was targeted by a developer for the construction of 15 homes. Rockaway Township asked TPL to step in to negotiate a deal with the landowner and protect the land as public open space.

“Development of this property was imminent, but instead, we have created a new park,” said Terrence Nolan, director of TPL’s New Jersey Field Office. “The protection of this property continues our longstanding commitment to conservation in the New Jersey Highlands and we are grateful to the many partners who made it possible.”

“It is very gratifying to see this property protected. I have been working on this personally for over ten years and am pleased that so many individuals and groups have come together to make this possible,” said Rockaway Township Mayor Louis Sceusi. “The property and the lake will be a great addition to the township. We can return to community activities like those that were held there 50 years ago.”

An easement along an abandoned rail bed on the west side of the lake will be transferred to the Morris County Park Commission as an extension of their West Morris Greenway trail system, connecting the property to Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

“Working in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and Rockaway Township, the Morris County Park Commission continues to fulfill its goal of making a contiguous linear greenway from Jefferson Township to Chester Township,” said Dave Helmer, executive director of the Morris County Park Commission. “This work can only be done through the partnerships of public agencies and private nonprofits.”

The land sits in the New Jersey Highlands, a 1,000-square-mile area in the Northwest part of the state, stretching from Phillipsburg in the Southwest to Ringwood in the Northeast. The Highlands include portions of seven New Jersey counties and 87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey residents, about 5.4 million people, receive their water from the Highlands.

“Morris County is pleased to be a funding partner in the collaborative effort to preserve this property,” said Freeholder Director Jack Schrier. “Our participation is further evidence of the County’s commitment to land preservation, not only throughout the county but importantly in the Highlands Preservation area as well.”

“Partnerships like this one help leverage conservation dollars state-wide,” said John Flynn, Green Acres Administrator. “This newly-protected land will now be available for current and future generations of New Jerseyeans to enjoy.”

The land purchase is TPL’s fourth in Rockaway Township. Through the partnership, the group has added more than 900 acres to the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area in the last five years. 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. With its state office in Morristown, The Trust for Public Land has been active in the protection of the Highlands for more than a decade and has helped protect more than 30,000 acres through its New York-New Jersey Highlands program. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey.