White Lake Beach Access Protected (NJ)

Sparta Township, New Jersey, 4/25/02 — The Trust for Public Land and Sparta Township announced today the protection of 60 acres in the township—the town’s top open space acquisition priority. The purchase was the first to use funds from the Sparta Open Space Trust Fund, established by a voter referendum in November 2000. The protected area provides access to the community’s only public outdoor swimming resource—White Lake beach. Protection of the land will also help protect the quality of water in an aquifer that lies below the property.

Until now, public use of the beach has rested precariously on a year-to-year lease with the landowner. With additional property also protected, Sparta Township will be able to build playing fields and baseball diamonds to meet the growing need for active recreation space and eliminate the need to lease ball fields.

“Fast growing communities like Sparta Township need to be proactive when considering their conservation goals. By identifying open space priorities and setting aside funds to protect these properties as they become available, communities can help ensure that future generations will not be without important resources,” said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization that negotiated the purchase and provided private funding.

“Acquiring this parcel has been a goal of the township for more than 25 years. The prospect of developing ball fields and a swim beach as well as providing additional recreational activities is exciting,” said Township Supervisor Henry Underhill. “We anticipate this purchase will pave the way for future open space purchases.”

The bulk of the funds for the $1.45 million purchase came from the Sparta Open Space Trust Fund. The Trust for Public Land provided $200,000 toward the purchase through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“We are pleased to help protect this landscape, which is critical source of drinking water and recreational opportunities. It furthers our goal of improving the quality of peoples’ lives by protecting and restoring the environment,” said Peter Howell, Program Director for the Environment for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Foundation has been a major contributor to land conservation in the New Jersey Highlands region for many years and named the Trust for Public Land co-manager, along with The Nature Conservancy, of an $8 million matching grant to protect ecologically significant landscapes in New Jersey.

The residential zoning of the property and the lake views made it desirable for potential development, which has been creeping closer and closer to White Lake. “Without this protection effort, it would have been no problem for the owner to sell to a developer.”

Land conservation in this region of New Jersey is becoming a more integral part of local planning. Nearby conservation achievements include the protection of an adjacent Girl Scouts of America property and the 800-acre Sparta Mountain Preserve, protected by TPL in 1998.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. TPL specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiation, conservation finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. With a state office in Morristown, TPL has helped protect more than 17,300 acres in New Jersey.