More Land Protected in Rampapo Mountains (NJ)

>Mahwah, NJ, 12/22/2005: The nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Bergen County announced today the purchase of 32 acres in Mahwah and Oakland. The Trust for Public Land negotiated the purchase of the property and directed the deed to Bergen County. As the new owner, the county will steward the land and manage it in conjunction with approximately 3,400 adjacent acres that it already owns in the Ramapo Mountains. The purchase compliments the 2002 protection of the adjacent 756-acre Camp Glen Gray property, a former Boy Scout camp.

“The purchase of the Phillips property represents another piece in place of the county’s open space puzzle,” said Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney. “By purchasing contiguous parcels of available land, the county will create a cohesive open-space panorama up in the Rampapo Mountains.”

“This is another key acquisition in the Ramapos that illustrates how partnerships between TPL the county and the state prove to be a powerful conservation force,” said Richard Hehmeyer, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “The county and TPL are diligently working on acquiring other privately owned lands within the Ramapo Mountains to expand the current preservation area and continue our fruitful collaboration.”

The property expresses the beauty and diversity of both plant and animal life that typifies the Highlands region. It is heavily wooded with scenic trails, rocky outcroppings, steep slopes and gently rolling forest floors. The property is located in the Ramapo River watershed, a significant source of drinking water for many northern New Jersey residents. Working in partnership with Bergen County and the State of New Jersey, the Trust for Public Land has preserved more than 5,000 acres in the Ramapo Mountains over the last quarter-century.

Funding for the $700,000 purchase was provided by Bergen County, with a portion of the purchase price to be reimbursed through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program.

The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,000-square-mile area in the northern part of the state, stretching from Phillipsburg in the Southwest to Ringwood in the Northeast. It lies within portions of seven counties and 87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey residents, about 5.4 million people, receive their water from the Highlands. To date, TPL has protected more than 30,000 acres in the New York-New Jersey Highlands.

Bergen County has been a leader in protecting open space for public use and recreation. With this acquisition, the total acreage of county-owned parkland is almost 8,850 acres. This represents a 76 percent increase since the Bergen’s “Last Chance” Open Space Preservation Campaign began in 1987. With the acquisition and preservation of the Phillips property, the total amount of contiguous protected land in the Ramapo Mountains is nearly 12,200 acres or approximately 19 square miles—from Oakland and Mahwah into Passaic County to the New Jersey/New York border. In 2001, the 218-acre Sun Valley Farms, located northeast of Glen Gray, was the first property preserved under the county’s farmland preservation program.

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. With its state office in Morristown, TPL has protected approximately 23,000 acres throughout New Jersey.