Land to be Added to Wallkill River NWR (NJ)
Vernon Township, NJ, July 10, 2003–The Trust for Public Land today purchased 25 acres in Vernon Township to be added to the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. This is the tenth property that the nonprofit land conservation organization has purchased for the refuge, which currently includes nearly 7,800 acres.
The property, which is located in the New Jersey Highlands region, is bordered by the refuge on two sides and long term plans call for the restoration of the wetlands that were originally drained for farming. Additionally, the property’s location along Owens Station and Lake Wallkill roads makes it desirable for development, which would have negatively impacted the refuge.
“This property has been a high priority for the refuge for years, and we are pleased to be a partner in efforts to protect the Wallkill River valley.,” said Margaret Waldock, project manager for the Trust for Public Land.
“This tract provides a tremendous opportunity for wetland preservation and restoration. If restored as we hope, the area will provide ideal habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife,” said Steve Kahl, refuge manager. “The Trust for Public Land has been an integral partner in helping us protect land throughout the refuge and without their help, we would have lost many tracts.”
The land was owned by heirs of Louis Myslinski, who farmed the land for the better part of the last century. “My father never did anything but farm this land,” said Valerie Bates, Myslinski’s daughter. “We are grateful to the Trust for Public Land for completing this transaction that we have been looking forward to for years.”
The State of New Jersey, working to add to existing preserved lands and protect water quality throughout the state, is also a valued partner in securing the property for protection.
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.”
?The $230,000 acquisition was funded by the Trust for Public Land with a loan from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which has been a major contributor to land conservation in the New Jersey Highlands region for many years. In 2000, the foundation named the Trust for Public Land co-manager, along with The Nature Conservancy, of an $8 million matching grant to protect ecologically significant landscapes in New Jersey.
Created in 1990, the refuge’s first land acquisition was completed in 1992. Since then, the Trust for Public Land has helped the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acquire more than 1,700 acres within the refuge boundary. Embracing about nine miles of the Wallkill River in northernmost New Jersey, the refuge offers important nesting, breeding, and foraging habitat for resident and migratory birds and a breeding area for songbirds and grassland birds. A variety of threatened and endangered species also depend on this corridor, including black bear, bobcat, river otter, beaver, mink and the snowy owl.
Located in the New York/New Jersey Highlands, where TPL has helped protect more than 26,000 acres, the refuge also provides access to the Appalachian Trail and is a key link in the planned greenway system. As development pressures increase in this quiet corner of the state, the Wallkill River NWR provides a critical respite for wildlife and humans alike.
“The Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge has also consistently received strong support and funding from the New Jersey congressional delegation, which has allowed the refuge to grow. In just ten years, more than half of the land planned for addition to the refuge has been protected,” said Waldock. “As forests and farms in northern New Jersey are quickly transformed into subdivisions and strip malls, it is important to preserve important tracts like this while they remain.”
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) 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. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. With its state office in Morristown, TPL has protected more than 18,000 acres throughout New Jersey. For more information, visit www.tpl.org/newjersey.
The NJDEP Green Acres Program works with landowners, municipal and county governments, nonprofit agencies and other conservation partners to protect land through direct purchase, donation, and conservation easement. The Program acquires land for state parks, forests, natural areas, and wildlife management areas. Green Acres provides low interest loans and grants to municipal and county governments and to nonprofit agencies to acquire open space and develop parks and outdoor recreation facilities. The Green Acres Program has protected more than 520,000 acres of open space and developed hundreds of public parks, bringing the state-wide system of preserved open space and farmland to more than 1.2 million acres. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres.