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Tewksbury community celebrates new 115-acre preserve


New Jersey Conservation Foundation

TEWKSBURY TWP. – Nearly 200 people enjoyed hay rides, hikes, children’s crafts and a toast of bubbly at a celebration of the new Hill & Dale Preserve on Sunday, Sept. 18.


“This is a win for everyone in the community,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the lead organization responsible for the preservation of the 115-acre property on the side of Hell Mountain.


The preserve includes agricultural fields, woods and a stretch of the Rockaway Creek and two tributaries, and is now open for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, walking and enjoyment of nature. The upper fields offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including Oldwick village, Round Top Mountain and the Cushetunk and Sourland mountains.


It is adjacent to the township’s Hell Mountain Preserve, and will be part of an 800-plus-acre preserved swath stretching across the township.


“I hope everyone enjoys visiting this property, because it’s a really wonderful thing,” said Kenneth Klipstein, president of the Tewksbury Land Trust, pointing out that the project was made possible only by the cooperation and shared financial resources of many partners.


Public partners included the state Green Acres Program, the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, the state Natural Resource Damages fund, Hunterdon County and Tewksbury Township. Nonprofits included New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Tewksbury Land Trust, Upper Raritan Watershed Association and Lamington Conservancy. More than 100 individuals from the community contributed as well.


Seller Michael Rothpletz – who is preserving his family’s 150 adjacent acres – said he is delighted about the new preserve. “There’s really no other land like it, and we couldn’t be happier that it ended up in the hands of the (New Jersey) Conservation Foundation,” he said.


Pam Thier, project manager with Green Acres, said the state is happy to make Hill & Dale available to the public. “It provides a place for people to connect with nature, which is so important to the human condition,” Thier said. She noted that five separate Green Acres grants were pooled to make the preservation project possible.


Hunterdon County Freeholder Matthew Holt said he welcomes the addition of the Hill & Dale Preserve to the county’s open space. “Let’s keep preserving land and the quality of life here in Hunterdon County,” he said.


Purchased in August, the 115-acre property is the first phase of the Hill & Dale Preserve. An adjacent 40-acre parcel is expected to be added during the first half of 2012.

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