As 2021 unfurls, D&R Greenway Land Trust celebrates its newest milestone: permanent preservation of its 315TH property since its 1989 founding.
“Preserving land is our first priority in a state that is the most densely populated in the nation,” Linda Mead, president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “This noble work provides benefits to every person who breathes fresh air, drinks clean water, eats fresh food, and finds solace in nature.”
Even while facing 2020’s pandemic and economic challenges, the land trust achieved protection of half a dozen properties that protect clean water along the Stony Brook, Jacobs Creek, and the Delaware River, according to the statement.
Preserved forests extend bird and wildlife habitats with linkages to adjacent preserves. Vast farmland protects the “garden” in the Garden State. Property values of the protected lands range from $90,000 to $4.6 million. Many of the land trust’s recent preservation successes are funded in part by their new Revolving Land for Life Fund. This resource was enriched in 2020 by a generous bequest from Eugene Gladston, a former trustee and birder who lived in Bucks County, who believed that the most patriotic thing we can do is protect home land, according to the statement.
New lands preserved forever by D&R Greenway in partnership with state, county and local partners in 2020 include:
A new 10-acre preserve in Hopewell Township creates a green legacy as Nutan Singh preserves land in memory of her late husband, Anil Singh. A Conservation and Public Access Easement on this land permanently protects 770 feet along the Stony Brook and another 720 feet of a tributary stream on this land. Funding for this new acquisition was provided by Mercer County and D&R Greenway’s Revolving Land for Life Fund.
This new preserve is directly adjacent to two other D&R Greenway properties and is nearby the land trust’s popular Cedar Ridge Preserve. Woodlands such as the Singh property include habitat for New Jersey endangered species: barred owl, Cooper’s hawk, wood thrush, worm-eating warbler, Kentucky warbler, and the remarkable terrestrial wood turtle. The richly forested land is composed of hickory, red maple, oak, tulip poplar, American beech, sycamore and the spicebush.
A 13-acre gift of land celebrates Wertsville history, thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Kloner. One hundred years after her grandmother acquired the East Amwell farm, Kloner gifted 13 bucolic acres to D&R Greenway Land Trust. Her generous donation links family land to neighboring preserved Sourlands farms. In addition to its renown for growing grains and vegetables, the Kloner land held a large general store Kleins named for her grandparents. Legend has it that journalists covering the kidnapping of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s son and subsequent Flemington trial investigated the barn on this property due to reports of out-of-state license plates on a car stored here.
Woods are located alongside a Category-1 stream, shelter warbling vireo, Carolina wren, Baltimore oriole, white-throated sparrow and blue-grey gnatcatcher.
Sycamore Creek Farm owners Tony and Patti Cifelli sold a conservation easement on their 50 Hopewell acres to D&R Greenway and its partner land trust, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. The easement permanently protects working farmland, and a forested area along Jacobs Creek where public access trails will be built.
A home, circa 1830, where the Cifellis raised their children, will remain in the family as the preserved property will be sold to their son Pete. His sister trained and rode horses on the farm while growing up here, and Pete fondly speaks of the sledding hill he shared with neighbor children.
This preserved property is an extension of the Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve, also jointly protected by the two land trusts, where new trails were opened in 2020.
Fifty-eight forested Delaware Township acres in Hunterdon County expand the land trust’s Plum Brook Preserve to 311 acres. The historic property includes significant mature trees and vintage stone walls. The Cisek family sold this land to D&R Greenway.
Sixty acres fit for a king include an historic gardener’s house, to become a museum with exquisite mementoes of the Bonaparte era in the City of Bordentown. Former king of Spain and of Naples, Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte’s widely renown Point Breeze estate overlooks the Crosswicks Creek at its confluence with the Delaware River.
Once holding the largest library in the United States, and the best collection of European art in the country, this land retains tunnels and stone steps along with archeological sites where two former mansions stood. D&R Greenway’s vision includes recreating the gardens in a manner that addresses history and food security for the community, and interpreting the property with education and signage to celebrate the importance of the Delaware River and the Native Americans that made their homes along its banks 13,000 years ago.
The State of New Jersey and the City of Bordentown are significant partners in preserving this unique estate property that will now be open to the public.
103 Salem County acres preserve agriculture in a region where bountiful produce earned New Jersey its title of “Garden State.” Facilitated through the New Jersey State Farmland Preservation Program, this reach of land adds to the thousands of farm acres, including Seabrook Farms, preserved in South Jersey near the Delaware Bay and Mannington Meadows.
The late Elizabeth Stetson, faithful supporter of the land trust, would drive her four-in-hand carriage past these rolling farm fields, to picnic with the Seabrook family and Grace Kelly who later became Princess Grace of Monaco.
Jack Seabrook and his brothers, in the 1950s, managed the world’s largest farming, freezing and dehydration operation. In 1929, after the stock market crash, Seabrook made an agreement to plant, pick and freeze food with General Foods, the corporation that had purchased the Birdseye patent for quick-freezing food in retail packages. The Birdseye brand would dominate the frozen food market for many years thereafter.
Seabrook also produced food under its own label, developing 60 square miles of rich farmland, becoming the “world’s largest truck farm enterprise.” They became major suppliers to the military during World War II.
This crucial farming and bird habitat is now preserved in perpetuity, thanks to Ms. Stetson’s suggestion to the Seabrook family that they speak with D&R Greenway about preserving their 1900 fruitful acres. Everyone’s goal, from the first, was to keep this historic site in active farming.
“This Mannington Meadows region is The Garden Spot of New Jersey, the Garden State,” Mead said in the statement.
It has also been named an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society, in conjunction with BirdLife International. Together, 2,758 IBAs have been designated, involving 417 million acres of public and private land in the United States.
D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, has saved more than 21,000 acres of New Jersey land since its founding in 1989. By preserving land for life and creating public trails, it gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and community gardens provide local organic food for neighbors, including those most in need. Through strategic land conservation and stewardship, D&R Greenway combats climate change, protects birds and wildlife, and ensures clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway’s mission is centered in connecting land with people from all walks of life.
D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, home to its art galleries in Princeton, is currently closed to ensure health and safety due to COVID, although its outdoor trails and labyrinth are open. Visit Facebook and Instagram pages and www.drgreenway.org to learn about the organization’s latest news and virtual programs.