our story

We preserve, restore, and care for land and water resources, inspiring and empowering individuals and communities to protect open space.

The Land Conservancy's History

2020
  • Opened the Nancy Conger West Brook Preserve in West Milford and constructed a parking lot, kiosk, and trail to welcome visitors.

  • Completed the West Brook stream restoration project, allowing the stream to run free and support adjacent wetlands for the first time in 60 years.

  • Added 78 acres to our Yards Creek Preserve in Blairstown that contain the headwaters of a Paulins Kill tributary which flows into the Delaware River. The preserve, which is part of the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative, currently totals 228 acres.

  • Planted 575 trees at Yards Creek Preserve with the help of 59 volunteers to provide overstory to shade out invasive plants.

  • Helped preserve the largest two private properties remaining in Livingston, totaling 18 acres that will become new municipal parks.

  • Helped Verona acquire the largest remaining privately owned properties, totaling 22 acres.

  • Our partner City Green grew more than 44,000 pounds of organic vegetables at our South Branch Preserve.

  • Hosted 18 interns, the largest number of interns in one year.
     

2019
  • Acquired, then transferred 129 acres of forest in Vernon adjacent to Wawayanda State Park to the National Park Service to be managed as part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

  • Acquired 150 acres for our new Yards Creek Preserve in Blairstown, which is part of the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative. These forested properties have streams that flow into the Delaware River, providing clean drinking water for millions.

  • Our partner City Green completed an amazing first year, growing 27,000 pounds of organic vegetables at City Green Farm at South Branch Preserve.
     

2018
  • Completed the Lubbers Run project, the largest land preservation project in the organization’s history. Completed the preservation of 3,400 acres over 14 years, including 16 mountain tops, nine ponds, more than 10 miles of trails, including four miles of the Highlands trail.

  • Established our Highlands Watershed Preservation Fund to provide funds for acquiring more land in the N.J. Highlands.

  • Established our Legacy Giving Circle thanks to a generous bequest gift challenge from the Janet Ross Fund, to encourage members to name The Conservancy in their estate planning and provide the organization with funds to preserve land into the future.

  • Our Vice President of Land Preservation Sandy Urgo received the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in Land Conservation.

  • Morris Park Alliance 2018 Community Award with the Environmental/Conservation Award for South Branch Preserve
     

2017
  • Purchased 170 acres in West Milford that contain the headwaters of the West Brook, one of the major water sources for the Wanaque Reservoir which provides drinking water to 2 million New Jersey residents.  This will become the West Brook Preserve, where we will work to improve water quality and restore the original stream bed.

  • Completed our first year of a three-year project to convert 31 acres of former corn fields into pollinator meadows along at the South Branch Preserve.

  • Assisted NJ DEP and Woodbridge in purchasing 4 homes, bringing the Blue Acres flood plain buyout total to 142.

  • Won first place at the 30th Annual NJDEP mapping contest for our Sussex County Open Space Plan Update.
     

2016
  • Established the Ramapo Mountain Preserve in Mahwah with a 46-acre acquisition, which will be held and managed by The Land Conservancy.

  • The Land Conservancy was chosen to lead the development of the Phase II Plan of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative for the Highlands Cluster, thanks to support from the William Penn Foundation.

  • NJ BIZ honored us with the Public/Private Partnership Award for our floodplain planning work in Bergen County.
     

2015
  • Established our Farmland Preservation Fund to accelerate The Conservancy’s work to preserve more farmland, thanks to a generous grant from the 1772 Foundation.

  • Began work to transform four former farm fields into a 31-acre native wildflower meadow to help the imperiled monarch butterfly.

  • Honoree in the Public Private Partnership Awards for our Floodplain Protection and Blueway Design in Bergen County. The award honors and recognizes unique public private partnership programs that showcase innovative and practical approaches to, and notable successful examples of, government and private sector partnerships that achieve public benefits.

  • Received the New Jersey Planning Officials' Achievement in Planning Award.
     

2014
  • Hit several milestones by preserving 20,000 acre of open space, celebrating our 500th Partners for Parks Project, and awarding a total of more than $200,000 in scholarships to future environmental leaders.

  • Played a leading role in the campaign dedicate a portion of the Corporate Business Tax to permanently fund Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation, and park restoration. We helped raise $1,500,000 to educate the public about the referendum.

  • Helped Woodbridge and Green Acres contact and buy out homeowners flooded by Super Storm Sandy. This effort eventually facilitated the buyout of 160 flood prone homes.
     

2013
  • Received the 2013 Garden State Green Award and a 2013 Smart Growth Award fromNew Jersey Future for the Pompton Riverwalk project.

  • Led a successful effort to convince the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund to fund acquisition of flood-prone homes.

  • Established the Rosalie Lavinthal Volunteer of the Year award to recognize outstanding individuals and corporations that provide outstanding service to The Land Conservancy each year.

  • Established a community garden at the South Branch Preserve with 68 plots. The garden has since grown to 145 plots and gardeners have donated more than 2000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks.
     

2012
  • Began restoring four former farm fields into a 37-acre forested riparian buffer to the South Branch of the Raritan River–one of the largest reforestation projects in New Jersey.

  • Received the 2012 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Quality Award for our restoration work at the South Branch Preserve Restoration Site in Mount Olive.

  • Sustainable Raritan Award in the Public Access Category on behalf of the “South Branch Preserve Partnership” in tripling the size of the South Branch Preserve in 2011
     

2010
  • Partnered with the N.J. Water Supply Authority, Mount Olive Township, Morris County, the State of New Jersey, Raritan Headwaters Association and The Trust for Public Land to preserve the 135-acre Rezamir Estates property, which contains the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River, a drinking water source for more than 1 million New Jersey residents. Now we are restoring the land to its natural state, completing the first restoration of a residential subdivision ever accomplished in New Jersey in just four months.

  • Led the successful effort to convince the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund to provide funding to acquire flood-prone homes.
     

2009
  • Became the first accredited land trust in New Jersey. Awarded by The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the accreditation seal is awarded to organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting open space lands, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.

  • Played a leading role in the lobbying and public education campaign which resulted in approval of a referendum to provide $400 million in new state open space funding for Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation. We helped raise $750,000 to educate the public about the referendum.
     

2008
  • With the scope of our work reaching far beyond the Morris County area, we changed our name to The Land Conservancy of New Jersey.
     

2007
  • Played a leading role in the effort to approve a referendum for $200 million in new state open space funding for Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation. The Conservancy helped raise $150,000 in private funds to educate the public about the referendum.

  • Thanks to a generous gift in memory of long-time Trustee Dick Sargent, we established the Richard M. Sargent Internship to help educate the next generation of environmental leaders.

  • Hosted the first Gray Cup Golf Classic to honor retiring Chairman of the Board Gray Rogers. This annual event has grown into the organization’s largest fundraiser.

  • Established the Pequest Preserve in Green Township, the organization’s first preserve.

  • Major William A. Welch Trail Partners Award from NY-NJ Trail Conference for significant assistance to the local hiking community.
     

2006
  • The Rogers Family Scholarship was established, greatly expanding the impact of our scholarship program to help educate future environmental leaders.

  • Hosted a party for 500 supporters to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary.

  • Helped to found the Keep It Green coalition (KIG) to lobby for increased state Green Acres, farmland and historic preservation funding. KIG eventually grows to 180-member organization and becomes the leading voice for increased state open space funding in New Jersey.
     

2005
  • Preserved our 10,000th acre, which included the 525-acre Koehler Estate, an addition to the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area, and the 1,200-acre Lam property in Kinnelon added to the Morris County Park System.

  • Received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Take Pride in America award and the NJDEP’s Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation.

  • Helped Pequannock develop a plan to purchase all of the regularly flooded homes along the Pompton River, moving residents out of harm’s way while creating recreational access to the river. Eventually 47 homes were purchased and demolished.

  • Accepted our first conservation easement for the spectacular Craigmeur Cliffs in Rockaway Township.

  • Honorable Mention for Land Preservation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Governor's Environmental Excellence Award, for our work in assisting the land conservation work of so many northern New Jersey towns.

  • Governor’s Volunteer Award for Volunteer Administration/Management recognizing outstanding individuals for their spirit of service to make this state a better place for all people, awarded for administering and managing the Partners for Parks program.
     

2004
  • Successfully completed our Preserve Now–Protect Forever campaign, which raised $3 million to establish our Land Preservation Fund to accelerate the organization’s ability to preserve more land with a goal of preserving 27,000 acres.

  • Volunteer Service Award from Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for the significant contribution of 500 hours of volunteer service.

2002

  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Management Award for the Clyde Potts Watershed preservation project.

  • Watershed Stewardship Award to the Partners for Parks program from the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee for public stewardship of natural resources and watershed habitat improvement.
     

2000
  • The Aresty Mapping Center was established thanks to a generous contribution from Jim and Wendy Aresty. The Center produces professional, computer-generated maps that are being used throughout the state as an important tool to target critical open space lands for preservation.

  • Volunteer Service Award to the Partners for Parks program from Morristown National Historical Park for dedicated services in assisting the park in preserving the natural resources of America’s treasures.
     

1999
  • Morris Parks and Land Conservancy changed its name to Morris Land Conservancy. We preserved our 1,000th acre, as a result of projects in Randolph, West Milford, Pequannock, Madison, Mt. Olive and Kinnelon.

  • AT&T Champions of the Environment Award from AT&T for promoting a spirit of community, diversity, and equal opportunity.

1998

  • Environmental Achievement Award from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions for distinguished effort on behalf of New Jersey’s local environment.

  • Acknowledgement for the land donation in Ogdensburg, Sussex County by the Morris Land Conservancy to the New Jersey Natural Land Trust.
     

1997
  • We completed our first land acquisition project, purchasing the development rights on a 100-acre farm in Washington Township and simultaneously transferring these rights to the Morris County Agricultural Development Board.

  • Completed an Open Space Plan for Morris Township, the first in the organization’s history.
     

1996
  • Eight volunteers from the Florham Park office of the Prudential Insurance Company of America improved the landscaping in Jefferson’s popular Children’s Park. This volunteer project launched The Conservancy’s award winning Partners for Parks Program that continues to put volunteer teams to work on one day projects to beautify and maintain our region’s magnificent parks.
     

1995
  • Randolph Township became the first town to retain Morris Parks and Land Conservancy as its Open Space Advisor.  Our Partners for Greener Communities program grew from this early effort to forge partnerships with the towns to preserve open space.

  • American Greenways DuPont Award for building the Farny Highlands Trails system.
     

1994
  • No longer functioning on volunteers alone, The Conservancy hired its first permanent staff, naming David Epstein became the first executive director.
     

1992
  • As its activities increased, the Morris County Parks and Conservation Foundation changed its name to Morris Parks and Land Conservancy.

  • Published the first issue of our newsletter featuring a tribute to recently deceased founder, Russell W. Myers.
     

1983
  • The Russell W. Myers Scholarship, the Conservancy’s longest continuously running program, was established through a dinner that raised money for an endowment to fund our scholarship program. This scholarship provides annual awards to New Jersey college students pursuing careers in environmental preservation.
     

1981
  • On July 30, 1981, our organization was established as the Morris County Parks and Conservation Foundation. The brainchild of Russell W. Meyers, the first director of the Morris County Park Commission, the organization was conceived to assist the commission in accomplishing its mission and to ensure that Meyers’ work would continue after he was gone.