The Trust for Public Land, Partners protect Blueberry Acres
Today, The Trust for Public Land, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Green Acres Program, Open Space Institute, and The Nature Conservancy announced the acquisition of a 202-acre property in Burlington County between the Conservation Foundation’s Evert Trail Preserve to the north and portions of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.
The property has been a priority for conservation for many years and is identified as a “Priority Lands for Water Quality Protection” by the NJ Conservation Blueprint. The property is almost entirely wooded wetlands with some uplands and former agricultural fields.
“This property will now be a haven for residents and visitors to the area alike,” said Greg Socha, Senior Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land. “As we slowly come back to ‘normal’ this addition to the preserved land will give even more people the opportunity to hike, and explore this unique are. We are so excited to have helped preserve another great resource for the community in Burlington County.”
This newly protected property will provide increased access to open space, as the previously privately-owned site was closed to the public. The property was transferred directly to New Jersey Conservation Foundation as an addition to the popular Evert Trail Preserve.
“This addition to the Evert Trail Preserve will expand recreational opportunities for the public and protect important habitat for migrating birds and other species. We were happy to work with the Trust for Public Land and other partners to preserve this important property,” said Stephanie Kreiser, Assistant Director for South Jersey with New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
The Trust for Public Land’s Blueberry Acres Project is in the headwaters of the Jade Run-South Branch Rancocas Creek and its protection is critical to protecting water quality in the Rancocas Creek, the only Pine Barrens watershed that drains west to the Delaware River. The Open Space Institute supported the project through its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, which is made possible by the William Penn Foundation. The Fund seeks to harness land protection to ensure abundant, clean water within the 13,000 square mile drainage of the Delaware River. Fifteen million people rely on the watershed for drinking water — including residents of the cities of Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City. To date, the Fund has conserved more than 4,000 acres in the Pinelands, connecting more than 35,000 acres of protected land.
“The Open Space Institute is proud to have supported this project as an inspiring model for empowering farmers and local landowners to safeguard the clean drinking water and rich ecological heritage of New Jersey’s Pinelands,” said Bill Rawlyk, Mid-Atlantic field coordinator at the Open Space Institute. “OSI salutes The Trust for Public Land and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on their visionary efforts to reforest the land, which will in turn aid the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer in capturing and storing rainfall and provide habitat for rare Pineland’s plant and wildlife species.”
Funding for this important project comes from a diversity of sources, an example of the power of collaborative conservation. The lead funder is the NJ DEP Green Acres Program along with private funding support, in addition to OSI, from The Nature Conservancy, the Victoria Foundation and The Haines Family Foundation.
“Green Acres partnerships that result in the acquisition and conservation of properties such as Blueberry Acres are vital to the core principles of the DEP,” Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said. “By connecting more than 200 acres of pristine land to Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, we are able to protect water quality, provide habitat for endangered and threatened species, and expand our preservation footprint to give future generations the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful land.”
Located on the edge of the Pinelands and draining to Delaware the Blueberry Acres property has diversity of habitats, plants and animals to be found there. From aging blubbery field to open water wetlands there is much to explore among the scattered White Cedar, Pitch Pine and hardwoods.
About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.