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  • Kate Munning

New Yards Creek Preserve Champions Biodiversity

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey has identified 1,090 acres of particularly vulnerable and richly diverse land in northwest New Jersey, and last month we finalized the purchase of the first 153 acres in Blairstown—a move that will protect drinking water for millions of the region’s inhabitants and curb encroaching development.

Located squarely in the Delaware River Basin, this land is in 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. Preserving these properties creates natural buffers for critical streams that feed the Paulinskill River, which is the second largest New Jersey tributary to the Delaware River.

The newly acquired land is near the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and adjacent to more than 76,000 acres of public land in the Worthington State Forest and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. These wetlands are an excellent habitat for wood turtles, support a significant amphibian population, and are enjoyed by black bears. The entire property is dotted with mature hardwoods like shagbark hickory, favored by the northern long-eared bat, which is classified as endangered in the state of New Jersey.

The Land Conservancy will own and manage the 125-acre Stony Brook Woods and 28-acre Maring properties, which were acquired for a total of $831,000. We are grateful to our funding partners at the Warren County Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund Committee, New Jersey Green Acres, the Open Space Institute, and the William Penn and Victoria Foundations for their support and for making this acquisition possible.

The Delaware River is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, flowing from the Catskill Mountains of New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The rivers and streams that feed the Delaware traverse one of the most densely populated parts of the mid-Atlantic region, but this area also contains 700,000 acres of wetlands and pockets of wilderness such as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, 400 miles of the Delaware National Wild and Scenic River, and a significant section of the Appalachian Trail. Yards Creek Preserve will permanently safeguard drinking water quality, prevent additional development on the slopes of the Kittatinny Ridge, and maintain scenic views. Stay tuned to keep an eye on our progress!

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