13 wooded acres preserved in Peapack-Gladstone
Feb 10, 2022
Nearly 13 wooded acres near Peapack-Gladstone’s municipal complex, most recently owned by Ron and Joyce Nelson, have been permanently preserved, protecting wildlife habitat and providing a new place for residents to enjoy walking and nature observation.
The newly-preserved land is located at 16 School Street, across from the municipal ballfields and a short walk from Liberty Park. Existing trails and sidewalks also connect it to the borough-owned Komline open space property nearby.
“We are thrilled to obtain this property, which helps enhance our formal and informal trail system through the borough,” said Mayor Greg Skinner. “It will enable our residents and visitors to continue enjoying outdoor activities throughout the borough.”
“It’s a small piece, but it’s an important piece in Peapack’s effort to preserve the countryside around the core of the town,” said Anne van den Bergh, a lifelong Peapack resident and vice president of nonprofit Lamington Conservancy. “It’s one of the few secluded woodland places where people can walk so close to the center of town.” Van den Bergh has fond memories of riding ponies through the property as a child.
The land was preserved by a partnership of Peapack-Gladstone Borough, the Lamington Conservancy, the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Somerset County and New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
In addition to its recreational benefits, the Nelson property was also considered a high priority for preservation because it recharges groundwater, safeguards water quality, and protects habitat for rare species. Among the threatened and endangered species seen on the property are barred owls, Indiana bats, veerys and bobcats.
The Lamington Conservancy acquired the land for $950,000 on Jan. 13 and simultaneously transferred it to Peapack-Gladstone Borough to add to the town’s recreation and open space inventory. Half of the funding for the purchase came from a Somerset County open space grant and the other half came from the state Green Acres Program. New Jersey Conservation Foundation provided land protection expertise to facilitate the transactions.
“We are happy to be part of this preservation partnership with Lamington Conservancy, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and Peapack Gladstone Borough,” said Martha Sullivan Sapp, director of the New Jersey Green Acres Program. “This key forested property ties together other municipal land, making important connections for the public.”
“Somerset County is thrilled to partner with Peapack-Gladstone, the Lamington Conservancy, and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation to preserve this beautiful, wooded property for its ecological, scenic, and recreational benefits,” said Somerset County Commissioner Melonie Marano, liaison to the Open Space Committee.
“This project, and others with our local, county, and state partners, bring us all closer to fulfilling the Commissioners’ goal to expand and connect open space throughout the county, and helps fulfill the recommendations of our Draft Preservation Plan and Walk Bike Hike Study,” Marano added.
As one of few remaining large wooded tracts in Peapack-Gladstone, the Nelson property also serves as a gateway buffer to the borough’s farmland preservation target area along Willow Road.
About Green Acres
New Jersey’s Green Acres program was created in 1961 to meet the state’s growing recreation and conservation needs. It is the longest continuously-run state preservation program in the country. Together with public and private partners, Green Acres has protected over 716,464 acres of open space and provided hundreds of outdoor recreational facilities in communities around the state. The total acreage of protected open space across New Jersey now exceeds 1.618 million acres.
About the Lamington Conservancy
The Conservancy focuses on land conservation, land use planning, and promotion of a rural economy and the preservation of the hunt country’s natural and historic resources. It promotes farmland preservation and the protection of strategic land through acquisition and cooperative efforts with local land conservancies and local and state governments.
About New Jersey Conservation Foundation
A private nonprofit based in Far Hills, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. In addition to protecting over 125,000 acres of open space, farmland and parks, New Jersey Conservation promotes strong land conservation policies at the local, county, state and federal levels, and provides support and technical assistance to hundreds of partner groups.
For more information about New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its programs and preserves, visit www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LANDSAVE (1-888-526-3728).
The State We're In
By Michele S. Byers,