New Wildlife Management Area in NJ Highlands

White Township, NJ, 7/29/04 The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the preservation of the 433-acre Buckhorn Springs property in White Township, Warren County. The property, which was purchased with state, federal, county, local, and nonprofit funds, contains pristine wetlands, slopes, forested ridges, and a native trout production stream called Buckhorn Creek. The DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife will manage the land as a new wildlife management area that will be open to public use for hunting and passive recreation such as fishing, hiking, and bird watching.

“The protection of these 433 acres in the New Jersey Highlands will protect wildlife habitat, ensure public recreation opportunities, and preserve the drinking water supply for millions of New Jersey residents,” said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation organization, which negotiated the purchase of the property from a private landowner. “TPL is grateful to all of our partners for their willingness to come together when it mattered most to protect this critical parcel.”

“The preservation of Buckhorn Springs reflects Governor James E. McGreevey’s leadership in the protection of water resources and the expansion of fishing access,” said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “Trout fishing is among the most popular recreational activities enjoyed by the 14 million people who visit the Highlands each year. Buckhorn Springs offers opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking that make the property an excellent addition to the State of New Jersey’s impressive collection of wildlife management areas.”

State, county, federal, and local sources provided funding for the $3,253,950.00 purchase. The DEP Green Acres Program provided $2,003,950 in State Acquisition funds and a $500,000 Nonprofit Grant to the Phillipsburg Riverview Organization. The Warren County Open Space Trust Fund $500,000 in matching funds for the Green Acres Nonprofit Grant, and the White Township Open Space Trust Fund contributed $250,000 toward the purchase of Buckhorn Springs. The US Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program will provide $1.64 million to reimburse the DEP Green Acres Program.

The federal funds were secured through a congressional appropriation with the strong support of the New Jersey Delegation, especially Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee; Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg; and Representative Scott Garrett.

“Preserving open space and protecting vital water supplies is a major priority for all of us in New Jersey,” said Senator Corzine. “I am proud that Senator Lautenberg, Congressman Frelinghuysen, Congressman Garrett, and I were able to gain federal funds to help secure the preservation of Buckhorn Springs for generations to come.”

“New Jersey is the most congested state in the country and as a result more and more of our prized open space is being used up everyday,” said Rep. Garrett. “This vital funding will address this serious threat immediately and will continue to ensure that our natural resources are better protected and remain viable for our future generations.”

“Buckhorn Springs and the entire Highlands region sit at the center of the most densely populated area of the country,” said Rep. Frelinghuysen. “This funding we have secured for the preservation of Buckhorn Springs reaffirms our continued commitment to protecting the watershed, pristine land and natural beauty of the entire Highlands region.”

“Areas like Buckhorn Springs are the gems of our state,” said Senator Lautenberg. “They deserve special protections and we will continue to fight for federal funding to preserve them.”

The preservation of Buckhorn Springs will protect significant water resources. The tract contains a pristine trout production stream, which feeds a reservoir on the property that formerly served as the direct water supply for the town of Belvedere, New Jersey. The property also includes views of the Delaware Water Gap.

“The Warren County freeholders are unanimous and genuinely pleased to support this accomplishment for land acquisition in an environmentally sensitive region of the county,” said Warren County Freeholder Director Rick Gardner. “In addition, saving 400 plus acres in perpetuity will be a great a benefit for not only the taxpayers of White Township, but for use by the general public of Warren County.”

“It’s a home run, a very good investment. By putting in what is a relatively small amount of money, we have leveraged county, state, and federal funds to protect an important piece of property,” said Mayor of White Township Jim Hausman. “This is a great way to protect land that costs the citizens of our town a very small amount of money. I give the Trust for Public Land a lot of credit for their hard work pulling everything together.”

“Scott’s Mountain now has over 400 preserved acres for all to enjoy its beauty and resources. This wouldn’t be the case were it not for a few local volunteer citizens and, of course, the open-minded landowners who have now sold for preservation purposes, versus development, and have left this wonderful legacy of Buckhorn Springs,” said Andrea Hayde, vice-chairperson of the Phillipsburg Riverview Organization.

Preserving open space in the Highlands is one of the State of New Jersey’s top priorities. During Governor James E. McGreevey’s first term in office, the state has preserved an estimated 7,879 acres of farmland in the Highlands, protected approximately 23,000 acres of open space in and around the Highlands, and protected many of the region’s waterbodies through Category One designation. In November 2002, voters approved Public Question No. 1, which will provide $150 million toward the purchase of open space and farms in the Highlands region and throughout the state.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that 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 Highlands for more than a decade. To date, TPL has helped protect approximately 27,500 acres in the New York-New Jersey Highlands.

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

Since Governor McGreevey took office, the Green Acres Program has acquired 65,164 acres of open space—43,668 acres for state projects, 10,703 acres for local projects and 10,793 acres for nonprofit groups. To date, the Green Acres Program has protected more than 547,557 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals more than 1.26 million acres.

Earlier this year, TPL and the DEP Green Acres Program also partnered to protect the 1,200-acre Gerard Woods property in Sussex County and added 600 acres to Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Mount Olive Township, Morris County.