For more than 50 years, New Jersey Conservation Foundation has
actively preserved land in Morris County. The Foundation was established
as a result of the successful effort in the early 1960s to preserve
the Great Swamp. Since then, the organization has worked on such
notable Morris County preservation projects as Pyramid Mountain,
Patriots’ Path and Schooley’s Mountain.
The Morris County Highlands project area
encompasses the headwaters and feeder streams of two major New Jersey
rivers, the Raritan and the Passaic. Preserving land in this area
protects critical water resources for millions of New Jersey residents,
and provides opportunities for hiking, bicycling, fishing, nature
observation and other passive recreation.
In 2010, New Jersey Conservation Foundation helped preserve two
major parcels in the Morris County Highlands: the 228-acre Borgenicht
property in Washington Township, now known as the Drakestown
Preserve; and the 63-acre Johanson property in Rockaway
Township which is adjacent to the state-owned Wildcat Ridge Wildlife
Management Area. Additional land preservation projects adjacent
to and near these parcels are planned.
The Drakestown Preserve and surrounding area are characterized by
large forested wetlands systems that have been largely undisturbed
by development. It consists primarily of upland forest and forested
wetlands with meandering headwater streams that lead to the South
Branch of the Raritan River, which serves as a source of drinking
water for more than 1.5 million New Jersey residents.
The South Branch contains valuable trout production waters that
flow to a major drinking water source, the Spruce Run Reservoir.
The Drakestown Preserve is located on the Schooley’s Mountain ridge,
which is the Morris County extension of Musconetcong Mountain. The
South Branch headwaters, Schooley’s Mountain and Musconetcong Mountain
are all recognized as “Highlands Critical Treasures” by the Highlands
Farther north in Morris County, New Jersey Conservation Foundation
is working in close partnership with The
Trust for Public Land to preserve additional parcels
of land. The goal is to establish a contiguous open space assemblage
that will enhance wildlife corridors and passive recreational opportunities
in the area ultimately linking Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management
Area with Pyramid Mountain County Park.
These properties are part of the Beaver Brook sub-watershed of the
Passaic. The properties contain mature forest and critical habitat
for many wildlife species, including red-tailed hawk, wild turkey,
migratory birds and bobcat.
For more information about preserving
land in this project area, contact Ingrid Vandegaer, Highlands regional
manager, at Ingrid@njconservation.org