TEWKSBURY – A 63 acre property in the Mountainville neighborhood of the parish that was once approved for residential use has been permanently preserved as open space through a public-private partnership.
A partnership led by the Tewksbury Land Trust bought the land along Water Street for $ 1.13 million from Christopher and Sarah Treanor last month. It is managed as a nature reserve with public hiking trails so that visitors can experience the scenic beauty of the area.
The country also has a high protection value as a habitat for wild animals, groundwater recharge area and steep slope protection area. It is largely forested and contains pristine tributaries of Rockaway Creek, a trout producing creek that flows into the Raritan River, a source of clean drinking water for 1.8 million in the state.
The Tewksbury Land Trust, established in 1993, has received nearly 500 acres through simple ownership and easements, with more being worked on.
Funding for the Treanor Conservation Project came from the New Jersey Green Acres Program, which has made grants from both the Tewksbury Land Trust and Tewksbury Township, and the New Jersey Highlands Council, which uses funds from the federal Highlands Conservation Act grant program to secure it could a deed about the preservation restriction of the property. Technical assistance was provided by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
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“Partnerships are key to preserving land and we are delighted to be working with the Tewksbury Land Trust again to provide technical expertise to maintain the Treanor property,” said Michele Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “This is a beautiful piece of land with great views and it is a stroke of luck that there is already a way.”
The land will be owned and administered by the Tewksbury Land Trust and the Tewksbury Township.
“The acquisition of Treanor is the result of the power of patience and partnership,” said Laurence Ross, president of the Tewksbury Land Trust. “Long-time residents of Tewksbury, Chris and Sarah Treanor, have been with us on this project for several years when funding seemed to materialize from multiple sources and then disappeared. Beth Davisson, our land purchase advisor for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, persisted and left behind not a stone until it finally finds the sources of funding needed to maintain it. “
Sarah Treanor was born in Tewksbury and grew up on a family farm that was maintained 12 years ago. Her husband, Chris Treanor, moved to Tewksbury when they were married. They bought the Mountainville property with the vision of building their own house there. They received approval to subdivide three lots but ultimately decided not to pursue it because they believed houses would destroy what they loved about the land – its natural beauty.
“Tewksbury is a special place and if people don’t do anything to keep it that way, it will go away,” said Sarah Treanor. “We are honored to have done our part in keeping Tewksbury beautiful by working with the Tewksbury Land Trust to preserve this property.”
A gravel path, serving the old site configuration, meanders through the forest and provides an intact, pre-existing path system that allows visitors to hike to the higher elevations of the site. At the top of the property, visitors can enjoy great views of the adjacent mountains.
Ross determined that the Treanor property is located between the Tewksbury Land Trust’s Jeffrey area and the Olsen easement.
“As a result, it fills a patchwork of an emerging protected area system in an area that historically has had very limited passive recreational opportunities for the public,” he said. “Imagine the new opportunities residents and visitors now have to explore the natural beauty of this particular area of Tewksbury!”
“The addition of this wonderful nature reserve to the Tewksbury Open Space Register is a win-win for the community,” said Tewksbury Mayoress Dana Desiderio. “The community’s support for the Land Trust in its deer management program will help ensure that this property is managed in accordance with the best practices of the Land Trust Alliance guidelines.”
“We are very pleased to have supported both the Tewksbury Land Trust and Tewksbury Township in this important acquisition,” said Martha Sullivan Sapp, director of the Green Acres program, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. “This property will help to maintain the health and habitat of both plant and animal species that depend on the high-quality surface water, as well as those that need intact forest areas to thrive.”
Lisa J. Plevin, executive director of the New Jersey Highlands Council, said the organization is very pleased to contribute nearly half of the funds to the upkeep of the Treanor property.
“Because the Highlands is the source of drinking water for more than 70 percent of New Jersey’s residents, conservation projects like this have far-reaching benefits that are not always visible,” Plevin said. “Not only does this project result in some wonderful recreational opportunities, but it also means protecting important natural resources. The property is mapped within a Highlands Preservation Priority Area, which means it has been designated for protection due to its high environmental and water-related properties.”
More information is available at www.tewksburylandtrust.org.