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Preservation of 57-acre farm expands Hillsborough green belt


New Jersey Conservation Foundation

HILLSBOROUGH TWP. – A 57-acre farm off Township Line Road, described as an important “crowning piece” in a 600-acre block of preserved farmland, has been permanently protected by Somerset County with the assistance of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.


The county recently purchased the development rights to Maple Lane Farm, meaning that the land will remain in farming forever.


New Jersey Conservation Foundation, a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources, contributed $514,605 from its federal farmland preservation grant. The contribution allowed Hillsborough Township and Somerset County - which initially planned to use their own open space trust funds - to reallocate those monies toward other preservation projects.


"We are very happy that we were able to take advantage of federal funding through a partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation for the preservation of the Maple Lane Farm,” said Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, the program’s liaison. “This farm will be a proud addition to our inventory of preserved farmland in Somerset County, and we look forward to working with the township and the foundation on advancing the industry of agriculture in Somerset County.


“The Somerset County Agriculture Development Board and Board of Freeholders have funded the preservation of over 8,000 acres since the inception of the Somerset County Farmland Preservation Program, with the largest portion in Hillsborough Township," added. Palmer. 



Mayor Frank DelCore said he is pleased to see Maple Lane Farm preserved. “Preserving property from development whenever the opportunity arises is one of the township’s main priorities, and we are proud to be working in conjunction with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Somerset County Freeholders to add Maple Lane Farm to the township’s list of preserved farmland, keeping it out of the hands of developers,” said DelCore.


The cost to preserve Maple Lane Farm was $1,096,699. Of that, $582,094 came from a grant to Somerset County from the State Agriculture Development Committee and the remainder came from New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Chickie Haines, chairwoman of the township’s Open Space Advisory Committee, said Maple Lane Farm “is a nice crowning piece” to a preservation area that is now about 95 percent complete.


“This is an important property in a block of over 600 contiguous preserved farm acres in the southeastern part of the township, and is part of approximately 2,000 acres of preserved farmland in the township,” she said. “We are thankful for New Jersey Conservation Foundation's efforts and the additional funding they were able to contribute. We look forward to their continued help with other preservation projects in Hillsborough.”


.Maple Lane Farm is currently used for growing hay. Now that development rights have been extinguished, the property will be owned by the D & R Greenway Land Trust of Princeton, which assisted in the preservation effort. D & R Greenway Land Trust plans to lease the land to a farmer under the condition that it be managed for grassland bird habitat. Bobolinks, grassland birds that are designated by New Jersey as threatened, have been observed on the property.


New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation Foundation has protected more than 120,000 acres, or 187 square miles. For more information on programs and preserves, visit www.njconservation.orgor call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).


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