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Nature preserve named for Maureen Ogden

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 10/22/14

New Jersey Conservation Foundation
In front of kiosk at Maureen Ogden Preserve dedication
WASHINGTON TWP. (Morris County) - Former Governor Thomas Kean lauded Maureen Ogden as "a champion and a hero" for the environment as New Jersey Conservation Foundation dedicated a nature preserve in Long Valley in her honor today, Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The preserve dedication was attended by more than 50 of the former state Assemblywoman's friends, family members and colleagues. In addition to Kean, speakers included New Jersey Conservation Foundation Executive Director Michele S. Byers, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco and NJ Keep It Green Chairman Tom Gilbert.

Kean said Ogden's leadership was especially evident when she fought successfully for passage of the Freshwater Wetlands Act. "When she has a cause, she will go through a wall to get that cause done," he said. "She was the best leader we all could have in the state Legislature because she never gave up."

Ogden, a strong advocate for the environment for 50 years, served in the state Assembly from 1982 to 1996, where she championed legislation protecting freshwater wetlands, open space and farmland preservation, endangered species, and water and air quality. She had been a New Jersey Conservation trustee since 2006, and is a Millburn Township resident and former mayor.

The 228-acre Maureen Ogden Preserve sits high on the Schooley's Mountain ridge and consists of mature forest crossed by meandering streams. The forest provides vital habitat for interior forest species, including scarlet tanagers, red-eyed vireos, barred owls and red-shouldered hawks. Streams flow into the South Branch of the Raritan River, which supplies drinking water to 1.5 million New Jersey residents.

"No one place or preserve will ever fully honor and recognize Maureen's impact and legacy, but this beautiful land with its richly forested wetlands is now dedicated in her name," said Byers. "Please enjoy your visit and think of Maureen Ogden, without whom this forested wetland and thousands of acres like it, would not be fully preserved."

Assemblyman Bucco presented Ogden with a resolution from the state Assembly and Senate, honoring her for her achievements. "It passed unanimously in both houses, so you must be doing something right," he joked.

"We congratulate Maureen Ogden on this fitting recognition of her great preservation legacy," said Gilbert. "Her leadership in establishing the Garden State Preservation Trust helped protect scores of critical lands, waters and historic sites throughout the State. Passage of Question 2 on Election Day would continue that great preservation legacy for generations to come."

Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman was unable to attend the preserve dedication, but sent a letter that was read aloud.

"Leaving a lasting legacy is a tricky business, but if anyone has done it, Maureen Ogden has been the one," wrote Whitman. "Not only was she the power behind New Jersey's open space preservation efforts, her extraordinary environmental leadership has embraced all facets of our shared environment.

"In a low-key, but insistent and persuasive way while both in and out of the legislature, Maureen shepherded through most of the major environmental initiatives that has ensured a quality of life in New Jersey," Whitman added. "Our program has been a national model and its impact makes us proud to call the state our home. We owe Maureen a huge debt of gratitude for all she has done, and all she continues to do for us and for future generations."

Ogden got her environmental start as a volunteer at the Cora Hartshorne Arboretum in Short Hills. She joined the Millburn Environmental Commission, was later elected to the Township Committee and served for three years as mayor. As an Assembly member from 1982 to 1996, she headed the Environment Committee.

After leaving the Assembly, she became chair of the Governor's Council on New Jersey Outdoors, tasked with assessing the state's open space needs and recommending a funding mechanism. Following a successful statewide open space referendum in 1998, she became the first chair of the Garden State Preservation Trust. She also served as commissioner of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, member of Legacy Council of the NJ Highlands Coalition and chair of the Conservation Committee of New Jersey Garden Clubs.
Land for the Maureen Ogden Preserve was acquired in 2010 from the family of the late Jack Borgenicht, a businessman, philanthropist and mountain climber who amassed considerable open space and farmland in the Long Valley area. The preserve is open to the public for passive recreation such as hiking and nature observation. New Jersey Conservation co-owns it with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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