NJ Farmland Added to Highland Preservation Area

Mansfield Township, NJ, 4/2/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation group, today announced the conservation of a 155-acre property in Mansfield Township within the Highlands Preservation Area. Prior to the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act in 2004, the property received preliminary major subdivision approval for the development of 27 residential lots. It is in the Highlands Preservation Area and therefore a high priority for protection. The land was purchased through a partnership of TPL, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Acres Program, and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC). The property is located just off of route 31 and bordered by Jackson Valley, Westervelt, and Hill Top roads.

“This project combines the need to preserve agricultural lands for future agricultural use and production and the need to protect critical habitat in the Highlands,” said Cindy Roberts, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

The SADC, which administers the state Farmland Preservation Program, purchased half of the property. This 78-acre farm portion will be resold at a public auction later this year with deed restrictions permanently protecting the land for agricultural use. The farm is in an active farmland preservation area that includes five other preserved farms and four other applications for preservation within a two-mile radius.

“We’re pleased to partner in the preservation of this property, which reflects our commitment to permanently protecting farmland in the Highlands Preservation Area,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus, who chairs the SADC. “By preserving farms like this one, we are not only protecting an agricultural resource but also the environment, the character of our communities and our overall quality of life.”

An auction date for the farm has not yet been scheduled. Anyone interested in receiving notice of the auction date and bidding guidelines should contact the SADC at (609) 984-2504 or sadc@ag.state.nj.us to be included on an auction mailing list.

The DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will manage the remaining 77 acres, which are near their Pequest Wildlife Management Area. The land is ideal for hiking on existing woods roads. The property includes critical forest habitat and several endangered species, including the northern harrier, timber rattlesnake, bog turtle, blue-spotted salamander, and bobcat have been found in the area. This portion of the purchase was funded through Green Acres and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“With its abundant wildlife and natural landscapes, this property is an ideal setting for those who appreciate the outdoors,” DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said. “This property in the Highlands Preservation Area is also a step in the right direction for clean and plentiful water for New Jersey’s citizens.”

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. With its state office in Morristown, The Trust for Public Land has been active in the protection of the Highlands for more than a decade and has helped protect 50 properties-more than 32,000 acres-through its New York-New Jersey Highlands program. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.2 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 23,000 acres in New Jersey. For more information, visit www.tpl.org/newjersey.