Posted Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A 162 acre tract of land in Kinnelon known as the Weber Tract has been preserved as open space in a partnership with the borough, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, the Morris County Park Commission, the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the state’s Green Acres program.

The Weber Tract is located on Maple Lake Road, near Route 23 and Kinnelon Road, and is adjacent to the Morris County Park Commission’s Silas Condict County Park.

Kinnelon and the Park Commission now become the owners of the Weber site, with Kinnelon owning 100 acres of the property for recreational uses such as hiking and bird watching, and for natural resource protection. A 62-acre portion of the land now belongs to the Park Commission and will be added to Silas Condict County Park.

Located within the New Jersey Highlands Preservation Area, the site features steep slopes, scenic ridgelines, bluffs and wetlands. The land will become part of an interconnected greenbelt that extends north from the Silas Condict County Park into neighboring West Milford Township.

The property also provides habitat for a diverse collection of species on the federal and state threatened and endangered species list, including the bald eagle, Indiana bat, timber rattlesnake, bobcat, red-shouldered hawk and red-headed woodpecker.

The Morris County Preservation Trust Fund contributed $1.4 million toward the acquisition. In addition, the Park Commission contributed $500,000, and because of the property’s high water resource value, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority contributed $300,000.

The Green Acres program provided $300,000, with Kinnelon contributing $286,250 from the borough’s Open Space Trust Fund. The Land Conservancy of New Jersey contributed $10,000 through a state program to fund watershed protection projects through environmental settlements and $3,750 was raised through private donations from Kinnelon residents.