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120 acres of forest and farmland preserved in Warren County


New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Newly-preserved farmland in Warren County
The flat-topped ridge of Scotts Mountain in Warren County has a long agricultural history, spanning generations of local farming families. Its woods provide critical habitat for forest-dependent birds, including scarlet tanager, wood thrush, eastern wood peewee and solitary vireo.

Thanks to a land preservation partnership, an ever-increasing area of Scotts Mountain will retain its rural character for many generations to come.

On Dec. 29, New Jersey Conservation Foundation purchased 120 acres on Castners Road, adding a key conservation and connector parcel in the midst of about 1,500 acres of already-preserved farmland and natural areas.

The land straddles the border of Harmony and White townships, and includes 30 acres of fields with prime agricultural soils, and 90 acres of woodlands with existing trails. New Jersey Conservation plans to lease the fields to a local farmer for continued agricultural production, and keep the forest in its natural state for wildlife habitat and passive recreation such as hiking and nature observation.

The farmland adjoins other parcels of preserved farmland, and the forest borders the state's Buckhorn Creek Wildlife Management Area. Adjacent are two wooded properties preserved earlier by New Jersey Conservation and its partners: the 36-acre Morrison property, acquired in 2012; and the 60-acre Hanssler/Bossert property, acquired in 2008, which connects to the Merrill Creek Reservoir environmental preserve.

The property was preserved with funding from Harmony Township's state Green Acres grant, the Warren County Open Space Trust Fund, a grant from The 1772 Foundation and New Jersey Conservation's Green Acres grant.

"The Green Acres Program is pleased to play a role in the preservation of the DeCasas property, which serves as a home for birds and other wildlife and also abuts one of our state wildlife management areas," said Martha Sapp, Local and Nonprofit Assistance Chief of DEP's Green Acres Program. "It is another shining example of how public and private partnerships can protect open space in New Jersey."

Corey Tierney, Warren County's land preservation director, said, "Warren County is pleased to see this beautiful property preserved. By partnering with New Jersey Conservation on this project, the county was able to leverage its investment in open space preservation - contributing only about 30 percent of the funding.

"Now, not only will this property be open to the public for hiking, but it will forever be protected and well managed under the expertise of the New Jersey Conservation staff," added Tierney. We appreciate all the hard work they have put into acquiring this site, as well as protecting the larger Scott's Mountain project area, and we look forward to their continued partnership in preserving key resources throughout our community."

"Preserving farmland in proximity to our major metropolitan areas is critical," said B. Danforth Ely, president of The 1772 Foundation. "The DeCasas farm is another example of prime farmland now preserved for future generations, and 1772 is proud to have played a small part in this preservation effort."

Scotts Mountain, located at the southwestern end of the New Jersey Highlands, is one of New Jersey Conservation's priority land preservation project areas.

A U.S. Forest Service study identified Scotts Mountain as one of six "Important Large Forested Areas" in the Highlands, defined by relatively undeveloped contiguous forested lands, key water resources, important wildlife habitat, and recreational and cultural opportunities. In 2002, New Jersey Conservation and the Highlands Coalition named Scotts Mountain as one of 17 "Critical Treasures of the New Jersey Highlands."

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 or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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