FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 10/08/10
TEWKSBURY TWP.– New Jersey Conservation Foundation and three nonprofit partners have launched a campaign to raise the final $738,000 needed to preserve 160 acres of the landmark Hill & Dale Farm.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is coordinating a $7.2 million preservation effort to turn 160 acres on Hill & Dale Road into a nature and agriculture preserve, to be known as the Hill & Dale Preserve. Another 150 acres of Hill & Dale Farm is the subject of a state farmland preservation application.
Originally a dairy farm, Hill & Dale Farm has served as an equestrian facility in recent decades. Travelers along Rockaway Road have long enjoyed the farm’s spectacular tapestry of fields, woodlands, historic structures and hillsides dotted with grazing horses, all connected by the sparkling Rockaway Creek and its tributaries.
Along with the Tewksbury Land Trust, Upper Raritan Watershed Association and Lamington Conservancy, New Jersey Conservation Foundation has secured nearly $5.5 million in financial commitments and is awaiting another $1 million in pending approvals, for a total of almost $6.5 million.
The funding package consists of $2.3 million in state Green Acres grants, $2.3 million in state Natural Resource Damages funds, $1 million from Hunterdon County, $652,500 from the New Jersey Water Supply Authority and $192,000 in grants from the federal Farm and Ranchlands Preservation Program.
“This is a signature landscape in the heart of Tewksbury Township, and we want to see it preserved forever,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We have secured most of the funding we need, but there is still a $738,000 gap. We’re counting on the generosity of nearby residents to make this preservation a reality.”
If the 160 acres are not preserved, they could potentially be developed for six luxury estates under current township zoning.
Kenneth Klipstein, president of the Tewksbury Land Trust, said the preservation of Hill & Dale Farm will create an 830-acre contiguous green belt of preserved open space and farmland, extending from the township’s Hell Mountain Preserve eastward to the county’s Cold Brook Preserve off Route 517 in Oldwick.
“We’re very excited about creating a Hill & Dale Preserve,” said Klipstein. “Once the property is preserved, there will be public access for hiking, horseback riding, fishing and other passive recreational uses. The property has magnificent, sweeping views of the Hunterdon County countryside.” The property is adjacent to the 113-acre Hell Mountain Preserve off Parsonage Lot Road.
Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, noted that the land to be preserved includes headwater streams, freshwater wetlands, aquifer recharge areas and unique wildlife habitats. For over 10 years, URWA has been monitoring and reporting on the status of water quality in the Rockaway Creek. Today, the stream is reported as “non-impaired.”
“Securing and preserving this key watershed property is critical to maintaining this healthy water supply that contributes to the Raritan River system – a system that provides clean drinking water to 1.8 million New Jerseyans,” said Ehrenclou.
Jason Andris, treasurer of the Lamington Conservancy, said that some of the corn and hay fields within the future Hill & Dale Preserve will be retained as agricultural lands, while the more steeply sloping fields and woodlands will be managed as conservation lands for passive recreation.
In addition to the 310 acres that will be preserved as open space and farmland, another 13-acre parcel within Hill & Dale Farm, containing a cottage and historic barn, will be sold for private ownership.
Several other houses and farm buildings within Hill & Dale Farm will remain in the possession of the Rothpletz family, owners of the farm. The family has applied to sell developments rights to the 150-acre section to the State Agriculture Development Board in the form of a farmland easement.
For information about donating to the effort to create a Hill & Dale Preserve, contact Beth Davisson, project manager for New Jersey Conservation Foundation, at 908-234-1225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, the 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).
Founded in 1959, the Upper Raritan Watershed Association is a nonprofit organization that protects and preserves natural resources of the Upper Raritan watershed region. For more information, visit www.urwa.orgor call 908-234-1852.
The Tewksbury Land Trust is a nonprofit formed in 1993 to preserve open space and farmland in Tewksbury Township. The Trust is responsible for preserving and managing over 250 acres through acquisition and a conservation easement program.
The Lamington Conservancy is a nonprofit whose mission is to protect and preserve the cultural landscape of the Lamington River Valley.