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  • Kate Munning

Our 500th Project!

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Last month we added 21 acres to Yards Creek Preserve in Blairstown, which means we’re now protecting and restoring a total of 322 acres in the Delaware River watershed along the eastern slopes of the Kittatinny Ridge. This is one of the highest quality and most biodiverse forests in New Jersey.

We were also excited to realize that this is the 500th land acquisition we’ve made in the past 42 years. Five hundred—wow!

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks that make up our work—especially when you do as much paperwork and jump through as many hoops as we do. But hitting a milestone like this encourages us to take a breath, step back, and look at the big picture.

Sandy, who heads up the land team that makes these acquisitions a reality, cites our staff’s hard work as critical to our ongoing success. She says, “The whole team has helped to build these preserves, working at grant writing, due diligence, restoration, stewardship, and reimbursement. These places are amazing, biodiverse, and resilient, and it is an absolute joy to pursue the re-wilding of this land.”

Yards Creek Preserve is a great example of what TLCNJ’s legacy allows us to accomplish. Since purchasing the first property for this project in 2019, we’ve been able to accumulate 300 acres toward our larger goal of amassing 1,000 uninterrupted acres to protect the Delaware River Basin (one of the most important watersheds on the East Coast) and build the Bobcat Alley wildlife corridor. Our reputation and relationships in the conservation community are serving us well, helping us work with landowners, government entities, funders, and fellow nonprofits. The network we’ve built over the past 42 years, along with the expertise and skills of our staff, are key to our successes.

Preservation is one pillar of our work; restoration is another. At Yards Creek Preserve we have removed six stream culverts, corrected an area where the stream was previously forded, and reforested food plots that were cut in the forest. A stream restoration this past summer is already improving the resilience of the area, as evidenced during this season’s heavy storms. Hundreds of trees have been planted by staff and volunteers, most recently in October, and invasive species control continues to move forward. As a result, biodiversity is thriving.

Sandy says, “Yards Creek Preserve is really flourishing, and under the management of The Land Conservancy, it continues to grow. We are completing thoughtful restorations as we go along, improving habitat and reducing stressors. Trees have been planted, natural stream crossings have replaced culverts and driveways, wetlands have been enhanced, human impacts have been reduced, invasive species are being battled and native species are thriving.”

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.

Funding for this most recent acquisition came from a Green Acres Nonprofit Planning Incentive Grant, The Nature Conservancy, and the Open Space Institute 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. Launched in 2014, the Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund has protected more than 21,000 acres of forested land in the Delaware River Watershed.

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