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Grandson of NJ Conservation founder becomes new president

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 05/19/15

New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Kenneth H. Klipstein II
FAR HILLS - Kenneth H. Klipstein II of Tewksbury Township, grandson of one of the founders of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, was elected president of the nonprofit's Board of Trustees at the annual meeting on April 24.

A board member for the past five years, he is the grandson of the late Kenneth H. Klipstein, who was a co-founder and early trustee of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. And his father, David Klipstein, has been involved in environmental causes for decades.

"It's in my DNA, the work that New Jersey Conservation Foundation does - and that I grew up with," said Klipstein, who has spent his career in the environmental field and is co-founder of the Tewksbury Land Trust, a longtime preservation partner of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation was established in 1960 as the Great Swamp Committee, whose mission was to save the Great Swamp from being developed as an international airport. Klipstein's grandfather, a Harding Township resident, was "right in the thick of it" as one of the community members who banded together and succeeded in getting the Swamp preserved as a national wildlife refuge.

Later, the Great Swamp Committee changed its name to New Jersey Conservation Foundation to reflect a growing statewide focus.

"We're extremely excited to have Ken Klipstein become president of New Jersey Conservation Foundation and continue his family legacy," said Michele S. Byers, executive director. "He's an outdoorsman who's been raised with a conservation ethic since he was a young child, and he has an incredible depth of experience and knowledge about environmental protection."

Klipstein succeeds L. Keith Reed of Bedminster Township, who had served as New Jersey Conservation President since 2007. Reed, recognized by NJBiz magazine in 2010 as one of the state's top 50 nonprofit board leaders, is moving to Montana with his wife, Lisa.

Klipstein said one of his priorities as New Jersey Conservation president will be to emphasize the economic benefits of preserving the state's "natural capital" - its farms, forests, wetlands and water resources.

"The evidence is clear: sensitive land use planning and conservation is just good business," he said. "New Jersey remains a great place to live because we have, over time, recognized the importance of preserving our rich and diverse natural capital. We must work to protect these special places for generations to come."

Another priority is to continue New Jersey Conservation Foundation's efforts to provide parks and open space in urban centers like Camden. "I'm very excited about the work we're doing in Camden," added Klipstein. "There's great potential there."

Many environmental influences

Klipstein grew up in Far Hills, Bedminster and Tewksbury with a strong environmental consciousness, thanks to family and friends.

Klipstein said his grandfather served as president of the chemical firm American Cyanamid in the early 1960s, and became increasingly concerned about the potential harm from chemical misuse.

"I think he was really struck by (environmentalist) Rachel Carson and her book 'Silent Spring,' " he said. Prior to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, the senior Klipstein founded the New Jersey Chemical Industry Council to share thoughts and concerns about chemical product development and educate students and teachers about advancements in the field of chemistry.

As an environmental activist, the senior Klipstein helped get the first Green Acres bond issue passed by voters in the early 1960s. A few years later he advocated for the first farmland assessment act, which allows farmland to be taxed for its production value rather than its real estate value.

Klipstein's father, meanwhile, served on the Planning Board and Borough Council in Far Hills and was instrumental in bringing about 10-acre zoning in response to sprawl development threats from the construction of interstate Highways 78 and 287. (David Klipstein later moved to California, where he serves on the board of the nonprofit Ocean Champions and is a Life Trustee of the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice.)

The environmental influences continued. After leaving Far Hills, Klipstein's family moved to a home in Bedminster, across the street from Candace Ashmun, who was establishing the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commission.
"There was a lot going on," Klipstein recalled. "I went from hearing about the Great Swamp fight to zoning in Far Hills to starting environmental commissions."

Klipstein now lives in Tewksbury with his wife, Lee, and has served on the town's Planning Board, Board of Health, Parks & Recreation Committee and Environmental Commission. With his uncle, Theodore Koven, he co-founded the Tewksbury Land Trust 20 years ago and currently serves as its president.

Klipstein is also a founding member of the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team and currently serves as its vice chairman. "Invasive species management is very important in New Jersey," he said. "Early detection, rapid eradication is our motto - in other words, nip it in the bud."

He also serves on the board of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, a Washington, D.C. based organization named after Gifford Pinchot, the founding chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

A graduate of Rutgers University and the University of New Hampshire, he is a past commissioner of both the Lake Hopatcong Commission and the Greenwood Lake Commission. Klipstein works as Director of Watershed Protection Programs for the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, and previously was employed for more than 20 years by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

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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