Photo Credit: Sandy Ross Photography
A 63-acre property in the township’s Mountainville section, once approved for a residential subdivision, has been permanently preserved as open space by a public-private partnership.
On June 18, a partnership spearheaded by the Tewksbury Land Trust purchased the land along Water Street for $1.13 million from Christopher and Sarah Treanor. It will be managed as a natural area with public hiking trails, allowing visitors to experience the area’s scenic beauty.
The land also has high conservation value as wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge area and steep slope protection area. It is mostly wooded and contains pristine tributaries of the Rockaway Creek, a trout-producing stream that flows into the Raritan River, a clean drinking water source for 1.8 million New Jerseyans.
Funding for the preservation project came from the New Jersey Green Acres Program, which provided grants to both Tewksbury Land Trust and Tewksbury Township; and the New Jersey Highlands Council, which was able to leverage funds from the federal Highlands Conservation Act grant program to secure a deed of conservation restriction on the property. Technical assistance was provided by New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The land will be owned and managed by the Tewksbury Land Trust and Tewksbury Township.
“The Treanor acquisition is the result of the power of patience and partnerships,” said Laurence Ross, president of the Tewksbury Land Trust. “Longtime Tewksbury residents, Chris and Sarah Treanor stayed with us on this project over several years, as funding from various sources seemed to materialize, then disappear. Beth Davisson, our land acquisition consultant provided by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, persevered, leaving no stone unturned, until she ultimately found the sources of funding needed for preservation.”
Sarah Treanor was born in Tewksbury and grew up on a family farm which was preserved 12 years ago. Her husband, Chris Treanor, moved to Tewksbury when they were married. They bought the Mountainville property together with visions of building their own home there. They secured subdivision approval for three lots, but ultimately chose not to pursue it as they felt houses would destroy what they loved about the land – its natural beauty.
“Tewksbury is a special place and if people don’t do something to keep it that way, it’s going to disappear,” said Sarah. “We feel honored to have done our part in keeping Tewksbury beautiful by working with the Tewksbury Land Trust to preserve this property.”
A gravel drive servicing the old lot configuration winds through the woods and provides an intact pre-existing trail system allowing visitors to hike to the higher elevations of the property. At the top of the property, visitors can enjoy lovely views over adjacent mountains.
‘Emerging Preserve System’
Ross noted that the Treanor property is located between the Tewksbury Land Trust’s Jeffrey preserve and Olsen easement. “As a result, it begins to fill in a patchwork of an emerging preserve system in an area that has historically had very limited passive recreational opportunities for the public,” he said. “Imagine the new opportunities residents and visitors now have to explore the natural beauty of this special area of Tewksbury!”
“Adding this wonderful preserve to the register of open space in Tewksbury is a win for the community,” said Tewksbury Mayor Dana Desiderio. “The Township’s support of the Land Trust in its deer management program will help ensure that this property is stewarded in accordance with the best practices of Land Trust Alliance guidelines.”
“We are very pleased to have assisted both the Tewksbury Land Trust and Tewksbury Township with this important acquisition,” said Martha Sullivan Sapp, director of the Green Acres program, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. “This property will help preserve the health and habitats of both plant and animal species dependent on the high-quality surface waters, as well as those requiring intact forested areas in order to thrive.”
“The Highlands Council was very happy to be able to contribute nearly half the funding to support the preservation of the Treanor property,” said Lisa J. Plevin, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Council. “Because the Highlands Region is the source of drinking water for more than 70 percent of New Jersey’s resident, preservation projects like this have far-reaching benefits that aren’t always visible. Not only does this project result in some wonderful recreational opportunities, but it also means the protection of critical natural resources. The property is mapped within a Highlands Preservation Priority Area, which means it has been identified for protection due to its high ecological and water supply value.”
“Partnerships are the key to preserving land, and we’re pleased to once again partner with the Tewksbury Land Trust to provide technical expertise to preserve the Treanor property,” said Michele Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “This is a beautiful piece of land with great views, and it’s a real stroke of luck that it comes with a trail already in place.”