FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ 08/18/11
TEWKSBURY TWP. – The first 115 acres of the new Hill & Dale Preserve at the base of Hell Mountain were acquired today by the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its partners.
The property – part of the landmark 310-acre Hill and Dale Farm - consists mostly of woods and agricultural fields, with road frontage on both Parsonage Lot and Hill & Dale roads. A stretch of the pristine Rockaway Creek and two of its tributaries run through the land.
Acquisition of the Hill & Dale property creates new opportunities for passive recreation such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing and nature observation; protects water supplies; and preserves the area’s agricultural heritage. It is contiguous to the township’s 113-acre Hell Mountain Preserve on Parsonage Lot Road.
“We’re thrilled to preserve this magnificent property for all to enjoy,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We’re thankful to the community for donating so generously to this preservation effort, and grateful to our partners for the superb teamwork needed to make this happen.”
"The acquisition of the Hill and Dale property by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its funding partners is an excellent example of the growing collaborative effort to preserve land,” said Richard Boornazian, administrator of the Green Acres program. “This project contributes to the key elements of the Green Acres Program, protecting ecological resources and providing access for the public to natural lands."
The upper section of the land commands sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, including Oldwick village, the Cushetunk Mountains and Round Valley Reservoir. The lower end offers bucolic views of the barns, fields and pastures of the historic Hill and Dale Farm, a former dairy farm that has served as an equestrian facility in recent decades.
“We are so happy to be part of this important project,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, one of the partners. “Preserving these watershed lands, located at the headwaters of the Raritan Basin, will have a positive, cumulative impact on all the communities within and far beyond the region, into New Jersey’s urban areas.”
The community is invited to celebrate the Hill & Dale preservation and tour the property from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, in the large barn off Rockaway Road. Those who plan to attend must RSVP by Friday, Sept. 9, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complex Funding Package
The preservation project was made possible through a complex funding package developed by New Jersey Conservation Foundation in cooperation with several public funding agencies and three nonprofit partners – the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, Tewksbury Land Trust and Lamington Conservancy.
Public agency partners include the state Green Acres Program, the New Jersey Office of Natural Resource Damages, Tewksbury Township, Hunterdon County and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.
“The purchase of the Hill and Dale Farm, a spectacular Highlands property that contains riding trails, mature woodlands, rolling meadows, and a wetland corridor along the Rockaway Creek, will benefit generations to come,” said Ted Koven, vice president of the Tewksbury Land Trust.
“I am very excited about preserving this cornerstone piece of the Tewksbury landscape,” said Jason Andris, treasurer of the Lamington Conservancy. Andris noted that when all phases of the Hill & Dale Farm preservation are complete, there will be an 830-acre contiguous green belt of preserved open space and farmland in Tewksbury Township, extending from the Hell Mountain Preserve eastward to the county’s Cold Brook Preserve off Route 517.
In addition to the nonprofit and public agency partners, 80 private donors from the community contributed nearly $240,000 to fill a funding gap that could have jeopardized the project. A portion of these donations will be used to add an adjoining 40-acre parcel to the preserve next year.
No public money or private donations were used to purchase a house and two barns on the Hill & Dale property; these will be resold as a small farm.
The sellers of the Hill & Dale Preserve have applied to county and state farmland preservation programs to preserve another 150 acres of farmland, which will remain in their ownership.
‘Fine Example of Cooperation’
Public agency partners were enthusiastic about the preservation.
"This is a fine example of cooperation among different entities. We are happy that this productive farmland will remain in agriculture for perpetuity," said Tewksbury Township MayorPeter Melick.
Henry Patterson, executive director of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, said he is proud to add the Hill and Dale property to the nearly 3,200 acres of critical watershed lands the Authority has helped protect. “The Authority is pleased to help preserve this parcel using funds provided by its water customers and financing through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program,” he said. “Protection of this property will contribute to the health of the Raritan River, a drinking water source for more than 1.5 million central New Jersey residents.”
"Using natural resource damage settlement funds to help preserve this critical property provides the public with appropriate compensation for impaired resources in the same watershed where previous damages occurred" stated Michael Catania, President of Conservation Resources, the conservation intermediary organization which identified the Hill and Dale project as a good match for these settlement funds. "It is wonderful to see such a great nexus between the impacted area and the area which will be permanently preserved."
“The best possible preservation project is one where partners come together, bringing various funding sources, to preserve the very best that Hunterdon has to offer,” said Hunterdon County Freeholder Director Matthew Holt. “The Hill and Dale property is an example of what good land preservation represents and we are proud to have been a partner in that effort."
About the nonprofit partners
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.
Conservation Resources is a non-profit conservation intermediary organization that matches up preservation and restoration projects with appropriate sources of public and private funding.