EAST BRUNSWICK – A longstanding effort to preserve critical amphibian habitats and vernal pools along the East Brunswick-South Brunswick border has been completed with the acquisition of a 76-acre piece of open space along Ireland Brook.
Middlesex County completed the purchase of the Ireland Brook-Tamarack Hollow Extension from Freedom Run, LLC, on Feb. 16. The Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized the use of $1.3 million from the Middlesex County Open Space and Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund to purchase the property, according to a statement prepared by the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation.
The land connects 1,400 acres of county, state and local parkland, including the Ireland Brook Conservation Area, Tamarack Hollow Preserve and the Tamarack Golf Course.
“The property not only increases the county’s total open space acquired through the Trust Fund to over 8,000 acres, but also protects the habitats of several amphibian species, including the spotted salamander, whose populations are decreasing statewide according to the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife,” Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement.
“The county safeguarded several of the vernal pools with the 232-acre Tamarack Hollow Preserve acquisition in 2007,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Charles E. Tomaro, liaison to the county’s Open Space and Recreation Public Advisory Committee. “Until this purchase, the amphibians’ year-round habitat remained unprotected. This acquisition ensures that these amphibians will continue to be a part of Middlesex County’s environment.”
The lifecycle of the spotted salamander depends on the presence of vernal pools in their habitats, according to the statement.
The property will be managed through the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation. Working with the non-profit Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, the county will develop a management plan that provides for appropriate public access and passive recreational opportunities on the land, while protecting the year-round habitat for these important animals.