This newly designated open space land is located south of Lake Shawnee and stretches from Route 15 over the ridge towards Berkshire Valley Road.
The Trust for Public Land, State of New Jersey, Morris County and Jefferson Township are pleased to announce that a 835 acre property, previously known as the Baker Firestone property, has been preserved and is in the process of being conveyed to the State of New Jersey and Jefferson Township.
The Baker Residential property has been a high priority for more than 20 years due to its varied wildlife habitat, important water resources and linkage to over 3,000 acres of preserved lands. It is part of the Musconetcong and Rockaway watershed and has a direct influence over water quality in Lake Shawnee and Lake Hopatcong. Also, preservation of this land helps protect the recharge area for Jefferson’s water supply.
It will be divided with 188 acres for Jefferson Township and 647 for the state which will be added to the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area.
Kathy Haake, from the Trust for Public Land, Lisa Stern, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, and Mim Dunne of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Kathy Haake , project manager for the Trust for Public Land, mentioned seeing bear, fox, the threatened wood turtle, owls, and wild turkeys on this vast tract of land.
Haake: “It is a beautiful property with tons of wildlife; I’ve worked with Trust for Public Land for 14 years and I’ve seen more wildlife on this property then all my other properties combined”
Mayor Russel W. Felter: “I understand how beautiful it is here and how much we want to keep it that way. My kids are here and I want them to be able to enjoy it for years.”
Felter thanked Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, and all of the other groups that worked towards securing the purchase of the Baker Residential property. He then also thanked the residents of Jefferson Township for their belief in open space and their unwavering supporyt.
Felter added, “We’ll be using [this property] for passive & active recreation,…soccer fields, possibly putting in a community garden, some walking paths to connect neighborhoods and for people to go out and enjoy.”
Funding for the acquisition includes:
$1.9 million from federal Highlands Conservation Act funds;
$1.6 million from New Jersey Green Acres State Land Acquisition funds;
$800,000 from the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund;
$241,280 from a Green Acres Planning Incentive Grant awarded to Jefferson Township.
Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen: “The federal Highlands Conservation Act was established in 2004 for just this purpose, - to preserve important environmentally sensitive areas that sit amid congestion of northern New Jersey’s densely populated suburban areas. “
Compton Goble Road traverses the property for almost 2 miles and will provide excellent access to numerous trails for hiking and nature viewing.