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  • Kate Munning

How One Family Created a Legacy of Conservation in NJ

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Two hikers-in-training enjoy the memorial stone bench Bud Schwartz's family had installed at South Branch Preserve.

Campgaw Farm is a productive farm of 125 acres straddling Blairstown and Hope townships. It grows corn, hay, soy, and is home to a small number of cattle, goats, and pigs. On June 24, Campgaw Farm was permanently designated as preserved farmland. This is good news, of course; preserving land is vital to a healthy future for the Garden State. And this property adjoins existing preserved farmland, which will help maintain the pastoral character and agricultural economy of the region. But what makes this event special?

The real story here is about Bud Schwartz and his family's long history of land conservation in partnership with The Land Conservancy of New Jersey. While using our expertise to preserve land, we also build long-term relationships. Our history with the Schwartz family is a prime example of this.

As a lover of land, Bernard A. “Bud” Schwartz purchased various properties 60 years ago as an investment. But as the years went by, he came to believe that some land should remain undeveloped. Over the years, he demonstrated this over and over: 110 acres of woodland in Hardwick preserved as woodland; a 316-acre farm in Knowlton preserved as farmland; 12 acres in Franklin Lakes preserved as open land; and recently Campgaw Farm.

We first got to know Bud Schwartz in 2016, when we worked with Franklin Lakes to preserve a critical 12-acre property. While working in Franklin Lakes, Bud’s son David also came to learn more about The Land Conservancy’s work. When the purchase was completed in 2017, it was the largest privately owned property remaining in the borough.

Later, The Land Conservancy acquired 170 acres from the Schwartz family that became our Nancy Conger West Brook Preserve. This property contains the headwaters of the West Brook, which had been diverted decades ago. This preserve has become the site of some of The Conservancy’s most important work—a successful stream restoration project that is improving the quality of drinking water for millions.

When Bud Schwartz passed away in 2019, his family made a generous gift that jump-started our South Branch Preserve Stewardship Endowment to maintain and improve South Branch Preserve, which contains the headwaters of the South Branch of the Raritan River. And then, on June 24 of this year, The Conservancy preserved David’s 125-acre Campgaw Farm in Hope and Blairstown.

Sandy Urgo, TLCNJ's Vice President of Land Preservation says she's grateful to the Schwartz family and to the government entities that sealed the deal. "This is a productive farm and the preservation of it will go a long way towards permanently protecting the agricultural landscape in this area.”

This sentiment is shared by officials at the town and the county. Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead added, “I can’t tell you how happy I am that there are organizations and individuals so intent on preserving our farmland and open space in Blairstown. If we don’t preserve the rural character of this area, it will be lost forever.”

And Corey Tierney, Director of Land Preservation for Warren County, joined the chorus: “The County of Warren is pleased to see this beautiful farm preserved. We thank The Land Conservancy of New Jersey for partnering on this project. And we thank the landowners for choosing to permanently preserve their land.”

It’s strong, sustained relationships like these—with landowners, donors, communities, government entities, and other partners—that make The Land Conservancy of New Jersey as successful as it has been over the past 41 years.

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