New 71-acre Preserve Established in Frenchtown
Mar 2, 2023
FRENCHTOWN, NJ — The 71-acre wooded property directly across the street from Borough Park has just been permanently preserved as public open space, effectively completing a green belt around Frenchtown. The site, which is in close proximity to the Borough’s population center, will provide space for passive recreation, as well as habitat for native plants and wildlife.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) assisted the Borough of Frenchtown in acquiring the property March 2 with funds from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Green Acres Program and Hunterdon County Open Space Trust. The property on Creek Road was previously owned by Thompson Realty Co. of Princeton. Later this year, the Borough will hold a public meeting to decide on the preserve’s name and discuss the possibility of adding trails and other outdoor amenities on the property.
The property was one of the last remaining large tracts of land identified as a priority for preservation in the Borough’s open space plan. Its preservation has been a longtime goal of the Borough and eases concern among residents that the property would be developed.
“We are very excited to see the permanent preservation of this long sought-after property,” said Lisa MacCollum, NJ Conservation’s director of North & Central Jersey. “It has been a privilege to partner with Frenchtown Borough, Hunterdon County and the State on this effort, and we are pleased to have helped secure this land for the Borough’s residents and visitors to enjoy.”
“The Mayor and Council are grateful for the assistance from NJ Conservation to acquire what has always been a strategic open space priority for Frenchtown,” said Frenchtown Council President Michele Liebtag. “We are thankful and appreciate the NJDEP’s Green Acres Program and Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners for approving and providing the funds necessary to make this acquisition possible.” She added, “Due to this coordinated effort, we will achieve the long-standing goal of creating a green belt and preserving the open space critical to the sustainability of Frenchtown’s natural resources and amenities.”
The new preserve contains a tributary of the Nishisakawick Creek and provides habitat for endangered species and many that are threatened, like the long-tailed salamander. The property also will provide climate change resiliency through flood control, groundwater protection, and its ability to recharge groundwater supplies.
Margaret Waldock, executive director of Duke Farms, was serving as a member of the Frenchtown Environmental Commission when plans to preserve the property were set in motion. “Securing this land has been a long time coming, and perfectly complements decades of effort by the Frenchtown Environmental Commission and its preservation partners to protect the natural beauty and ecological resources of the region,” said Waldock.
Joel Boriek, member and former chair of the Frenchtown Environmental Commission, shared in the excitement of adding more open space to surround the Borough with nature. “We are fortunate to have increasing opportunities to connect with and enjoy the flora and fauna of this preserve,” said Boriek.
“Green Acres is delighted to partner with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Frenchtown Borough in preserving this important property,” said Martha Sullivan Sapp, director of the Green Acres Program. “The preservation of these substantially wooded acres along the Nishisakawick Creek tributary supports our shared climate resilience goals and is a great success for the entire region.”
“Hunterdon County is pleased to lend its support to the preservation of this valued property in the Borough of Frenchtown. Opportunities for preservation in the County’s smaller municipalities are rare, especially ones of this magnitude and in a prime location,” said Hunterdon County Commissioner Zach Rich. “NJ Conservation and the Borough of Frenchtown deserve recognition for their role in securing this property and making it available to the public. The establishment of this preserve is a triumph for both the environment and the local community.”
Check out the property using the New Jersey Conservation Blueprint, an interactive mapping tool: https://tinyurl.com/ycyb2zsx
NJ Conservation recognizes that the property, like the rest of New Jersey, is part of the traditional homelands of the Lenape people. We pay respect to the Lenape and other Indigenous caretakers of these lands and waters, those who lived here before, and the generations to come.