Friday, July 7th, 2017

PRESERVATION AGREEMENT DONE THROUGH  A PUBLIC AND NONPROFIT PARTNERSHIP

The Morris County Board of Freeholders, Trust for Public Land, New Jersey Highlands Council and Kinnelon Borough are announcing the acquisition and permanent preservation of 116 acres of natural land in Kinnelon, for use as public open space in the North Jersey Highlands.

photo of the NYC skyline from top of the preserved tract

View of NYC from the preserved tract

The property, known locally as the Untermeyer Lake tract, will be owned by Kinnelon and managed jointly by the borough and the Morris County Park Commission, which will hold an easement on 80-acres of the property.

The $1.1 million acquisition is the second facilitated by The Trust for Public Land in this area. It will help protect drinking water supplies and provide new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to North Jersey.

The voter-approved Morris County Open Space Preservation Program provided a majority of the funding for the purchase, or $800,000 of the $1.1 million price tag. The $800,000 includes $350,000 directly from the Preservation Trust, plus $300,000 of Trust dollars from the Park Commission and $150,000 from the Municipal Utilities Authority.

photo of tree-lined Untermeyer Lake

Untermeyer Lake

“Preserving natural tracts like this one in Kinnelon is why residents of Morris County strongly support our county and local open space preservation programs,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Christine Myers.

Freeholder Christine Myers

Freeholder Christine Myers

“This purchase, done with our many partners, protects the environment, offers recreational opportunities, and helps maintain a high quality of life for our residents, making Morris County a great place to live and work.’’

The Highlands Council, through a new program, also contributed $300,000 toward the acquisition. This is the first closing in the Council’s Open Space Partnership Funding Program, which launched in April 2016. The program seeks to work with nonprofit, municipal, county and state partners to protect important natural resources within the Highlands Region through matching grants.

“The property being preserved contains lands that are among the most environmentally sensitive in the Region and were prioritized for preservation in the 2008 Highlands Regional Master Plan,” said Highlands Council Chairman Jim Rilee.

“The application submitted by TPL ranked very highly against our program criteria and so we were very happy to help Kinnelon advance its preservation goals through this acquisition,” said Rob Walton, Chairman of the Council’s Landowner Equity and Land Preservation Committee.

Pristine Kinnelon Tract with Views of NYC Preserved Via Morris County Preservation Trust Fund

Kinnelon Mayor Bob Collins and Highlands Council Executive Director Margaret Nordstrom

“With this acquisition in Kinnelon, residents and visitors will now have better access to the trails and natural areas that make the New Jersey Highlands a spectacular resource for our state,” said Anthony Cucchi, State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “This protects land in the Highlands to ensure that future generations have clean water and access to nature.”

The Untermeyer Lake property is what remained after the Highlands Act curtailed a multi-phased subdivision of high-end homes on large lots in this section of Kinnelon. Five additional homes known as the Rainetree Glen development were planned for this tract.

The preserved property sits between Pequannock’s Mountainside Park and Morris County’s Waughaw Greenway to the south. The Greenway provides linkages that encourage multiple recreational uses for hikers, bikers and pedestrians between local, county, state and non-profit recreational facilities in the region.

The Morris County Park Commission plans to create a network of mountain bike trails linking these preservation areas.  Existing trails lead to a view of the New York City skyline.

another photo of Untermeyer Lake

Another view of Untermeyer Lake

“The preservation of this tract of land is the continuation of a collaborative relationship that the Morris County Park Commission has had with the Borough of Kinnelon over the last 10 to 15 years.,’’ said Morris County Park Commission Executive Director Dave Helmer.

The Waughaw Mountain Greenway, along with the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, provides a significant buffer to protect the Valhalla Watershed Preservation Area.

The property is a high groundwater recharge area in the New Jersey Highlands, which provides drinking water for millions of New Jersey’s families. It consists of a mature mixed hardwood forest, steep slopes and some freshwater wetlands, and offers diverse habitat that supports a variety of state threatened and endangered species.

Most of the 14-acre Untermeyer Lake is included in the acquisition.  The property can be accessed in Kinnelon from both Saw Mill Road and Franklin Lane.  Once trails are established, biking access will be from Pequannock’s Mountainside Park and Morris County lands to the south.

Other Comments:

Kinnelon Mayor Bob Collins: “Kinnelon values the preservation of open space for passive recreational needs and views this acquisition as an important step in achieving the goal of preserving pristine property that protects the aquifer and safe drinking water not only for our residents but for the entire State. I thank all of the funding partners who share a vision of protecting our natural resources future generations to come.”

Morris County MUA Acting Executive Director Larry Gindoff: “The MUA is pleased to be a partner in the purchase of this open space property.  It not only provides the public with new access to a quaint lake in a bucolic setting, but also protects our valuable water resources from development pressures.’’

For more information:

The Trust for Public Land, visit: https://www.tpl.org/our-work/new-jersey#sm.000amc63z1akjfo1xaz285ovlshbv

Morris County Preservation Trust: https://planning.morriscountynj.gov/divisions/prestrust/

Kinnelon Borough: http://www.kinnelonboro.org/

Highlands Council: http://www.nj.gov/njhighlands/

Morris County Park Commission: http://www.morrisparks.net/