New Access to Great Swamp Refuge for Morris County

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ, 12/28/2009: A vital addition to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was completed today, The Trust for Public Land and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced.

The New Jersey office of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, purchased the property, 27 acres in Chatham Township, and conveyed the land to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). USFWS will manage the property as an addition to the southwest corner of the more than 7,700-acre Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. To date TPL has acquired seven properties for the Refuge.

Addition of the property is a conservation priority for the Refuge. The addition extends significant woodland habitat and watershed and public access for hiking and bird watching, and an existing house on the property will be used as an administrative building and residence for Refuge staff.

“We are grateful to all the partners that made this important addition to the magnificent Great Swamp Refuge possible,” said Anthony Cucchi, TPL state director for New Jersey.

All of the $700,000 in funding for the expansion of the Refuge was secured through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), through the leadership of Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen and with the full support of U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez. Congress created the LWCF in 1965 to reinvest revenue from offshore oil and gas royalties into protecting America’s natural, cultural, and recreational heritage by acquiring land to ensure that important wildlife habitats are protected and all Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation. In order to help communities continue to benefit from critical wildlife areas such as Great Swamp, efforts are underway in Congress to ensure full and dedicated funding for the LWCF at the authorized annual level of $900 million.

“I am always pleased to work in Congress to protect the Great Swamp, since our special Refuge helps us regenerate clean air and water supplies in a highly congested and populated state,” said U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen.

“Expanding the Great Swamp is more than just an addition to a wildlife refuge, it’s an addition to the vitality of our great state,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. “The Great Swamp is one of the most treasured natural areas in New Jersey, a recreational destination and home to hundreds of birds, mammals and amphibians, including the endangered bog turtle. I am a proud supporter of the Great Swamp and pledge to continue fighting to preserve and expand New Jersey’s wildlife refuges and natural resources.”

Located thirty minutes from Manhattan, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was once planned to be the site of the world’s largest jetport, until it was protected nearly fifty years ago as a Refuge. It is a significant wilderness, particularly given its proximity to New York City and its setting in densely populated northern New Jersey. Great Swamp is home to more than 240 species of resident and migratory birds, and an impressive array of mammals and amphibians, including the federally threatened, and state endangered, bog turtle.

“Protection of this parcel demonstrates there are still critical properties that need to be preserved within the Great Swamp watershed. I commend Congressman Frelinghuysen, The Trust for Public Land, and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in their successful effort to add this important property to the refuge.” said Sally Rubin, Executive Director, Great Swamp Watershed Association.

Earlier this year TPL also conserved a six-acre former dairy farm in New Vernon near Green Village as an addition to Great Swamp, preventing development of habitat along Great Brook and Fox Hollow Brook.

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 nearly 3 million acres nationwide, including more than 24,000 acres in New Jersey. TPL depends on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit