Thursday, November 11th, 2010

The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders has approved spending $17,731,500 from the county’s Preservation Trust Fund to help preserve 738.1 acres of open space in 13 towns.

The freeholders approved funding the 15 projects based upon the recommendations of the county’s Open Space Committee.

The largest grant award, $4,017,000, is for the Pleasant Valley Mills Farm – Wilmerding project in Mendham Township. The applicant, the Schiff Natural Lands Trust, intends to preserve the 125 acre tract on both sides of Roxiticus Road through a combination of fee simple purchase and conservation easement, said Morris County Freeholder Jack Schrier, liaison to the Preservation Trust.

“This project will help complete an open space and farmland preservation greenway stretching from McVickers Preserve to Burnett Brook Natural Area and Mount Paul County Park,” Schrier said.

The smallest award, $254,000, went to the Town of Morristown to purchase 2 acres of land at 20 Hillcrest Avenue, to create a “pocket park” within a densely populated neighborhood in the community, Schrier said.

Preservation projects in Boonton Township, Rockaway Township, Chatham Township, Denville, Rockaway Borough, East Hanover, Harding, Mine Hill, Mount Olive, Pequannock and Mountain Lakes were also approved.

A complete list of the 2010 approved projects will soon be found on the Morris County Preservation Trust website, http://www.morrispreservation.org.

A tax of 2 cents per $100 of assessed property value was used to fund the 2010 program. Any of the 39 municipalities in the county and qualified charitable conservancies are eligible to apply for project funding.

According to Schrier, since the Open Space Program began awarding grants in 1994, over 22,725 acres, or approximately 35.5 square miles of open space in Morris County have been funded for preservation, slightly larger than the size of Mount Olive Township.

Morris County voters approved the program by referendum in November 1992.