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40-acre farm preserved in Warren County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 04/27/15

New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Newly-preserved farm in Washington Township
WASHINGTON TWP. (Warren County) - A 40-acre working farm in the Musconetcong River watershed has been permanently preserved by a partnership of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Warren County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The newly-preserved farm is located on McCullough Road in Washington Township and is exceptional for its rich soils and natural resource value.

The land contains 100 percent "prime" and "statewide-important" soils, the two highest soil classifications. It is located near the Musconetcong River, a pristine Delaware River tributary that's an important source of drinking water and is a federally-designated Wild and Scenic River.

Warren County purchased the development rights on the farm, using county farmland preservation funds and funds that New Jersey Conservation Foundation received through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The land will remain in private ownership, but it is permanently restricted to agricultural use.

Preserving the farm also helps protect the community's agricultural heritage, said Corey Tierney, Warren County's land preservation director.

"In Warren County, agriculture isn't just pretty to look at, it's a $91 million industry. It's a way of life for many," said Tierney, noting that the newly-preserved farm was once slated for development. "Preserving farms like this one isn't just about protecting the rural character of our towns and our rich soils, though that is certainly important. But it's also about investing in our farmers and in those they do business with."

Carrie Mosley, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said, "With its productive soils that help make us the Garden State, and its proximity to Category I waters, preserving this Warren County farm is a great benefit to the larger community.

"We are glad to participate with New Jersey Conservation to protect this valuable farm in northern New Jersey," added Mosley. "USDA-NRCS's easement program allows us to help purchase development rights on productive farmland to keep it in agricultural use for the production of food and fiber and to allow infiltration of rainwater to recharge our aquifers and reduce stormwater runoff. "

So far this year, Tierney said, Warren County has preserved five farms totaling over 336 acres. Counting the McCullough Road farm, the county has now preserved 242 farms comprising over 22,146 acres.

"People might see this and think we've preserved enough farmland, but the entire county is about 240,000 acres. Of that, only about 75,000 acres are identified as productive farmland," said Tierney. "This sounds like a big number, and it is, but to put that in perspective, we have preserved less than 30 percent of our productive agricultural base and less than 10 percent of the county as farmland."

Tierney said the county looks forward to continuing to protect farmland with New Jersey Conservation and USDA-NRCS as partners.

"We thank the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders for providing the funding necessary to complete this project," Tierney said. "The federal funding which New Jersey Conservation and NRCS brought to the table enables the county to leverage its local dollars in order to preserve even more farmland."

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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