Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area (NJ) Expanded

Rockaway Township, NJ: Celebrating a land conservation partnership unprecedented in New Jersey, local, state and federal officials joined representatives of the nonprofit community today to dedicate 295 acres of land recently added to the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit land conservation organization, negotiated an agreement between the landowner, the State of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and Rockaway Township, and secured $7 million from eight different funding sources for the purchase. “This is a tremendous example of public-private partnership,” said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the Trust for Public Land, who negotiated the purchase. “Agencies of all levels of government have partnered with non-profit organizations and the foundation community to provide funding to ensure the permanent protection of this valuable natural and recreational resource.”

The bulk of the property (293.5 acres) is now owned and managed by Fish and Wildlife and land will expand the recreational opportunities available in the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area. Plans call for the development of trail connections to the Farny Highlands Trail Network, a 37-mile trail system linking public lands in northern Morris County. The remaining 1.5 acres are managed by Rockaway Township Parks and Recreation. In 1999, the Township’s Open Space Committee ranked the property as the number one priority for open space protection due to the imminent threat to wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and drinking water if the land were developed.

Representatives of the funding agencies and organizations were on hand, and stressed the importance of such partnerships if New Jersey is to meet the goal to protect one million acres by 2008. Funds for the purchase were consolidated from the following sources: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Forest Legacy, Green Trust, Morris Land Conservancy (Green Acres Non-profit Acquisition Grant transfer), Morris County Open Space Fund, New Jersey Green Acres (Planning Incentive Grant/Loan to Rockaway Township), Rockaway Township Open Space Fund, Stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund, Trust for Public Land Highlands Fund and Victoria Foundation.