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Grant will fund survey and studies at Dismal Swamp

EDISON — Encompassing portions of three municipalities, the Dismal Swamp provides a habitat for 175 species of birds, 25 species of mammals and 25 species of amphibians and reptiles.

It is also home to numerous trees and plants, many designated as rare, threatened or endangered.

That is why an award of a $200,000 grant from the state legislature would result in significant funding for the Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission to fund a survey and environmental studies of the sprawling 1,278-acre Edison preserve that also encompasses portions of Metuchen and South Plainfield.

“Dismal Swamp is Edison’s largest wetland and hardwood forest preserve,” Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex) said. “It is an environmental jewel among my town’s many parks and open spaces. I am proud to help secure new state funding for this vital natural habitat.”

Karabinchak, a former Edison councilman, was the driving force behind the legislative grant, administered by the state Department of Community Affairs.

Grant monies may also to be used for environmental studies, access trails, signage, restoration initiatives, and educational and natural heritage programs.

“Edison places a high premium on preserving our environment,” Mayor Thomas Lankey said. “This substantial grant will enable us to better protect our community’s largest natural resource and enable greater public access to Dismal Swamp.”

The Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission — with members appointed from Edison, Metuchen and South Plainfield — is to receive its first $100,000 grant payment before Dec. 31 so it can move forward with its priority activities, said Chris Mazauskas, Edison’s resource development officer.

The best way to get to the Dismal Swamp is through the Triple C Ranch located at 206 Tyler Road in Edison. Archaeological digs in Dismal Swamp have unearthed artifacts, including ones found to be over 10,000-year-old.

Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission members include Metuchen Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen, Edison Councilman Robert Diehl, Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Charles Tomaro, a former Edison councilman, environmentalists Walter R. Stochel Jr. and Robert Spiegel, both of Edison; Kenneth Sammond, of Metuchen; Peter Smith of South Plainfield; and Dunellen Mayor Robert Seader.

For more information about the Dismal Swamp visit njdismalswamp.org.

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