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  • Kate Munning

Introducing Millbrook Seeps Preserve

On April 27, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey 36-acres of forested land in Hardwick that will be owned and managed by Ridge and Valley Conservancy (RVC) as the new Millbrook Seeps Preserve. Millbrook Seeps Preserve is a significant parcel in the climate and wildlife corridor along the Kittatinny Ridge, part of what is known as Bobcat Alley. RVC named the 36-acre property after the many forest seeps found throughout the landscape. This unique habitat supports a diverse array of flora and fauna with several species of amphibians, including spotted and Jefferson salamanders. Combined with TLCNJ’s Yards Creek Preserve properties, it represents 337 acres out of the 850-acre goal for Bobcat Alley. In addition, we have our own goal to grow Yards Creek Preserve to 1,000 acres. The objective is to preserve forests in northwestern New Jersey that would likely be developed. This protected area will help wildlife in a variety of ways: creating a corridor for wildlife to roam freely away from busy roads and residential areas; lowering water temperatures to improve quality and fight climate change; and nurturing sustainable land for animals and forests to thrive. As conservationists working along the Kittatinny Ridge, we are fortunate to have partners who share our vision. This area is critical to maintaining water quality in the Delaware River, and to the diverse array of species that call the ridge home. Pressure from development is intense, and the time to preserve what is left is now. The Millbrook Seeps project was funded by Green Acres, the Open Space Institute, William Penn Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. It's also fortunate when a landowner shares a commitment to conservation. The property was sold from the estate of Clegg Stewart, with his daughter Deborah Arace helping broker the deal. Deborah says, “What a great way to honor a loved one, to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy these 36 acres of woods and nature in New Jersey. My father loved that property from the moment he purchased the first lots in 1978. It has been an honor and privilege to help RVC and TLCNJ save this land. I believe more people should consider the opportunity to do the same.” The Delaware River Basin is one of the most important watersheds on the East Coast. Fifteen million people rely on the basin for clean drinking water—including the cities of Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City. It contains the Appalachian Trail and more than 76,000 acres of public land that comprise the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The ultimate goal is for the watershed to act as a carbon sink using native vegetation, mature forests of oak and hickory, and healthy soils. Conservation of this ecologically sensitive land is creating a resilient ecosystem that will better adapt to climate change while supporting diverse populations of native plants and animals. Slowly but surely, these efforts are connecting significant amounts of green forested habitat along the slopes of the Kittatinny Ridge to enable the movement of wildlife without interference by human activity. This project was supported by the Open Space Institute’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund. The Fund is made possible by the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin. This is TLCNJ’s seventh land preservation project funded by the Delaware River Water Initiative.

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