Posted Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The late Jack Borgenicht was a legend in Long Valley, where he owned the largest preserved farm in Morris County and helped start the area’s first brewpub. Among other things, he was a businessman, a philanthropist and an avid mountain climber who made history at age 81 as the oldest person to scale Mount Rainier.

Five years after Borgenicht’s death at 93, a 228-acre wooded property that was part of his estate has been purchased and permanently preserved by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its partners, including the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority bought the property at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Drakestown Road in November for $2.8 million, with the help of county and state open space funds. It is now the
Foundation’s largest preserve in Morris County.

The property sits high on the Schooley’s Mountain ridge, a flat-topped ridge that runs through Washington Township. Crossed by meandering streams that feed the South Branch of the Raritan River, the land will be used for passive recreation and water resource protection. The South Branch supplies drinking water to 1.5 million New Jersey residents.

“It’s a beautiful property, and we’re so glad that New Jersey Conservation Foundation bought it,” said Fran Borgenicht, Jack’s widow.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation, a private nonprofit, owns an 80 percent interest in the property and will be responsible for its management, while the New Jersey Water Supply Authority owns 20 percent.

The Morris County Open Space Trust Fund contributed $1.7 million toward the purchase.

“By preserving Jack’s property, Morris County and its financing partners are also preserving the legacy of a remarkable man,” said Morris County Freeholder Jack Schrier, who is the longtime liaison to the County Preservation Trust.

The New Jersey Water Supply Authority contributed $560,000 toward the purchase, and the Washington Township Land Trust contributed $400,000 from its state Green Acres grant. New Jersey Conservation Foundation coordinated the purchase and contributed $80,000 from its state Green Acres grant.

“I know Jack would be very pleased that his property is finally preserved,” said Margaret Nordstrom, Morris County Freeholder and former Mayor of Washington Township, who worked with Borgenicht to preserve another piece of property in Long Valley, the 700-acre Scott Farm.