Good Luck Point Land Donated to Refuge (NJ)

Berkeley Township, NJ, 3/27/03A partnership of public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private foundations announced today the protection of 211 acres on Good Luck Point. The land, which was owned by AT&T, was purchased by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land and donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for addition to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The addition to the refuge coincides with the centennial anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge system.

“Protection of this important property furthers our goal of preserving critical lands in the Barnegat Bay watershed,” said Kathy Haake, field representative for the Trust for Public Land. “In working with us to preserve land on Good Luck Point rather than sell it for development, AT&T presents a model of corporate responsibility.”

March 14 marked the centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge system, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. One hundred years later, a nationwide network of 535 refuges visited by more than 35 million Americans annually, includes more than 95 million acres dedicated to conserving the nature of America.

“We have had our sights set on adding this property to the refuge for nearly a decade. By the Trust for Public Land stepping up to the plate, they are helping the people of the United States preserve and protect, in perpetuity, this vital property,” said Steve Atzert, refuge manager, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

To date, the Trust for Public Land has protected approximately 3,000 acres for the Forsythe Refuge. The AT&T property was first identified as a priority for protection by TPL in their 1995 publication, The Century Plan: A Study of One Hundred Conservation Sites in the Barnegat Bay Watershed. Over the last decade, TPL has protected more than 9,400 acres within this watershed.

Good Luck Point lies in a chain of undeveloped lands along the western shore of Barnegat Bay. This “emerald necklace” includes Sloop Creek, Maple Creek, and Sands Point Harbor, which have benefited from past TPL preservation efforts. The Good Luck Point area is an important bird migration and wintering spot along the Atlantic Flyway. Birds found at the site include the endangered peregrine falcon and threatened American bittern, bald eagle, and osprey. The land purchased includes salt marshes, woods and freshwater wetlands. The property will be open to the public for passive recreation such as hiking and birdwatching. Boaters have long considered Good Luck Point one of the most significant landmarks on the New Jersey shoreline due to its location at the mouth of the Toms River, the largest of the Barnegat Bay rivers.

The non-wetland portion of the property, which includes a 10,000-square foot commercial building, a garage and parking area, will be transferred to Berkeley Township.

“It was a pleasure to work with the Trust for Public Land and we applaud their efforts to protect this land and others like it in the Barnegat Bay,” said Berkeley Township Mayor Jason Varano. “Future use by the town ensures a responsible use on this critical environmental property, which may not have been assured if the land would have returned to industrial use.”

The property is being purchased using a nonprofit grant to TPL from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Green Acres Program, Ciba-Geigy mitigation funds, a grant to TPL from the William Penn Foundation, and Wetlands Mitigation Fund.

NJDEP Green Acres Program Administrator John S. Watson commended TPL for their efforts in saving this parcel, “Our nonprofit partners add immeasurably to our efforts to preserve New Jersey’s environmentally sensitive open space, water resources, and other natural and historic resources. Working together, we can leverage our funds to save more land and help to ensure the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.”

In awarding its grant of $160,000, the William Penn Foundation cited the effort to preserve this property as a model public-private partnership that combines the expertise and resources of many different entities to protect important resources for the well being and enjoyment of future generations.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. With its state office in Morristown, TPL has protected 1.5 million acres nationwide, including nearly 18,000 acres in New Jersey.