Posted Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Applications seeking funds to preserve 1,390 acres of open space and parkland in 13 towns have been received by the Morris County Preservation Trust.

The applications are for 17 projects and were filed by seven municipalities and six non-profit organizations. They are requesting a total of $18.26 million from the open space portion of the county’s Preservation Trust Fund.

The Preservation Trust is funded by a dedicated tax of 1 ½ cents on each $100 of assessed property value. It is expected the Trust will be able to distribute approximately $12 million this year to help fund projects designed to preserve open space and farmland and protect the county’s drinking water resources.

Long Hill Township is seeking the largest grant in the amount of $4 million to help preserve the 71.4 acre-Central Park project. The township has also submitted two other applications totaling $2.95 million for the Gillette Riverwalk Park and the Stirling Recreation Center projects.

Other towns seeking funds for open space projects are Florham Park, Jefferson, Mine Hill, Mount Olive, Pequannock and Roxbury.

The non-profit Schiff Natural Lands Trust, which filed two applications, is seeking funds for the 44.5-acre Shale Pits Preservation and Restoration Project in Chester and Mendham townships, and the Union Schoolhouse Ravine Project, which totals 23.8 acres, also in Mendham Township.

Other non-profit groups that filed open space applications are the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, The Trust for Public Land, the Harding Land Trust and the Passaic River Coalition.

A 15-member committee will now thoroughly review the applications, visit the sites and make funding recommendations to the Morris County Freeholders in November.