Lillis FarmBorgenicht Property
Crystal Springs Farm
293 Acres Preserved on Schooley’s Mountain
The Washington Township Land Trust (WTLT) recently worked with 5 state and local partners to protect almost 300 acres of environmentally sensitive land on top of Schooley’s Mountain. The Crystal Springs property off of Califon Road contains highly developable agricultural fields, beautiful forests, ponds, and the headwaters to the Spruce Run - an important water source for many northern New Jersey residents. This purchase is a critical addition to a network of protected lands straddling the Hunterdon/Morris County border that totals over 1,000 acres.
The $2.27 million property was protected through an ambitions partnership with the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, the County of Hunterdon, Lebanon Township, Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance and New Jersey DEP’s Green Acres Program. “This is a great example of partners working together to save land with critical resources in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” said Lebanon Township Mayor Eileen Swan.
Washington Township Land Trust will manage the 53 acres of the property located in Washington Township; the remainder of the property will become part of the Hunterdon County Park System. Both areas will be managed for passive recreation and natural resource protection. Activities will be limited to protect the property’s important water resources. The Crystal Springs property contains the headwaters of the Spruce Run Reservoir, which provides drinking water to residents of 48 municipalities in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union Counties.
WTLT and Hunterdon County officials plan to use part of the property to develop a native warm-season grassland habitat, one of New Jersey’s fastest disappearing habitats. “I congratulate the other parties involved for working together to protect Spruce Run’s water resources and nurture a grassland wildlife habitat”, said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell in a recent press release.
The Crystal Springs property will create a continuous link between existing parklands in Hunterdon County and preserved farms in Washington Township, creating a cross-county greenway of protected lands. “This project represents the kind of “big-picture” open space planning that is vital to protecting our areas natural resources”, said Keith Hayes, President of the Washington Township Land Trust. “Important natural resources and scenic vistas don’t stop at county or municipal boundaries and neither should our efforts to protect them.” Lebanon Township Mayor Eileen Swan agreed, “It’s important to see communities working across their municipal borders to save land of statewide importance.
WTLT would like to thank our 5 partners; without their help and leadership we would not have been able to protect this very special property. WTLT also thanks the New Jersey Conservation Foundation for providing staffing assistance through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust.
Photos courtesy of Tim Warrener