New Addition to Great Swamp NWR (NJ)
Harding Township, N.J. 4/12/2006: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) joined U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th) at a press conference today to announce the addition of the final six acres of the Passaic River Farm in Harding Township, Morris County, NJ, to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Representative Frelinghuysen secured $1 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for the purchase of this property.
“The Great Swamp is the most significant national treasure amid northern New Jersey densely populated areas, and it is important that we protect it against the threat of future development,” said Frelinghuysen, New Jersey’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “With this purchase, we are defending wetlands, preserving riverfront habitat, and taking the last important step to convert the farm’s facilities into a visitor’s center for the Great Swamp.”
“The federal funds secured by Congressman Frelinghuysen were critical to making this vision a reality. TPL praises his support for this project and his longstanding leadership in Congress to help the people of New Jersey protect their important recreational and natural lands for future generations to enjoy,” said Terrence Nolan, TPL’s New Jersey state director. “The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is an oasis of serenity and wildness amid the congestion of northern New Jersey’s densely populated suburban areas.”
The Service intends to convert a renovated farmhouse, barn, and several outbuildings on the former horse farm into a facility providing visitor services, exhibits, a gift shop, meeting rooms, and offices. The property, formerly owned by the Kurdzialek family, is located on the south side of Pleasant Plains Road, abuts the Passaic River, and is bordered on two sides by the refuge.
Refuge manager Bill Koch said, “We are very excited about this addition because it will provide better visitor services, promote the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and, with our conservation partners, further our common goal of protecting the ecological integrity of the Great Swamp. The Service will manage the property to both benefit wildlife and serve refuge visitors.”
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (http://greatswamp.fws.gov), established in 1960, lies 26 miles west of New York City and seven miles south of Morristown, NJ. The 7,691-acre refuge is managed to provide important habitats for migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and other native wildlife. Recreational opportunities include hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education, and interpretive programs, photography and deer hunting.
“The Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge welcome this new addition,” said Kathy Woodward of the Friends group. “The future visitor center will give the Service an opportunity to inform visitors about the history of the refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
In 2003 and 2004, TPL and the Service teamed up to purchase two other properties totaling 44 acres from the same landowner as additions to the refuge. The properties were protected using federal LWCF and USFWS funds secured by Representative Frelinghuysen and U.S. Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg along with grants from the Johanette Wallerstein Institute and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The newly protected parcel connects to the previously protected lands, creating a 50-acre assemblage that includes important wetlands and forested river habitat. It boasts significant frontage along the Passaic River, a major tributary to the swamp that provides drinking water for areas downstream. Forested river habitat is critical to the Great Swamp watershed as it provides a buffer against runoff from surrounding development. “We are grateful for the leadership of the New Jersey congressional delegation and the dedicated efforts of TPL in working with the Kurdzialek family to further our shared conservation goals to protect this farm as part of the refuge system,” said Koch.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.
The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. With a state office in Morristown, TPL has been active in the protection of the nearby New York-New Jersey Highlands for more than a decade, having protected more than 27,500 acres in the region. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, visit www.tpl.org