Posted Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
Funding Provided by Morris County Open Space Trust Fund
Lewis Morris County Park will expand by 18 acres as the result of a $1.15 million land preservation purchase spearheaded by the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation and financed by the Morris County Open Space Preservation Trust Fund.
On Tuesday, April 9, the county purchased the former Bartenstein family property in Mendham Township, on Leddell Road, just south of Tempe Wick Road. This newly purchased tract will become an extension of the Leddell Preserve section of Lewis Morris, which is the Morris County Park Commission’s oldest county park.
Financing for the land purchase came from the county, including an $805,000 county open space trust fund grant approved by the Morris County Board of Freeholders. The Morris County Park Commission and Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority also each contributed $172,500.
“We are excited about preserving this really beautiful piece of land that will be added to Lewis Morris County Park, making our county park an even more incredible asset for our residents,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Deborah Smith, the county governing board’s liaison to the Morris County Park Commission.
“The county’s long-time policy of preserving valuable open space, which has been strongly supported by our residents, is one of the prime reasons we enjoy such a high quality of life in this county,’’ she added.
The Leddell tract is forested and slopes toward a pristine tributary stream in the headwaters of the Passaic River. It is surrounded by preserved land, including the southern end of Lewis Morris County Park, the Morristown National Historic Park at Jockey Hollow and the Morris Area Girl Scout camp.
“This property protects water resources in the Great Swamp Watershed and provides habitat for migratory songbirds and other wildlife,” said New Jersey Conservation Foundation Executive Director Michele Byers. “We’re pleased it will be in the good hands of the Morris County Park Commission.”
The former owner, Frederick Bartenstein, an avid conservationist and local historian, passed away in 2018 at age 100. His son, Frederick Bartenstein III, reached out to NJCF about buying the land for preservation. The Foundation agreed to seek funding to purchase the land and assign it to Morris County.
“My parents would be delighted, would be very pleased,” said Frederick Bartenstein III, who grew up in Mendham Township and now lives in Ohio. “They were both interested in history and conservation. It became an important passion to them.”
“The important thing is that this land is being preserved both for the rural character of the community and for watershed protection,” he added.
The acreage will expand to Lewis Morris County Park, the first park established by the Morris County Park Commission, with the original 350 acres acquired in 1956. The second largest park in the county system – with 22 miles of trails and 286,000 visitors annually –, it stretches from the north side of County Route 510 at its north end to the south side of Tempe Wick Road, now encompassing over 2,200 acres.
“As steward of 20,100 acres, the Park Commission core mission is to protect and preserve natural resources and provide educational and recreational opportunities to enhance the quality of life for our residents and future generations,” said Morris County Park Commission Executive Director Dave Helmer. “This added acreage of open space will ensure an even better outdoor experience for everyone to enjoy.”
Larry Gindoff, Executive Director of the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, stated: “Not only will preservation of this land add to the wonderful park system enjoyed in Morris County, but it also will contribute to the on-going protection of our high quality local water resources.’’
This isn’t the first Bartenstein property to become part of Lewis Morris County Park. The elder Bartenstein and his wife, Isabel, spent many years acquiring pieces of land in the Tempe Wick Road area, ultimately assembling about 100 acres.
In 2010, Mr. Bartenstein sold 73 acres to the Morris County Park Commission and Mendham Township for the original section of the Leddell Preserve at Lewis Morris County Park.
Mr. and Mrs. Bartenstein were both conservationists, protecting family properties in New Jersey and Virginia. They also were leaders in efforts to preserve the Great Swamp and the New Jersey Brigade Revolutionary War Winter Encampment Site, now part of Morristown National Historical Park.
The couple co-authored “N.J. Brigade Encampment in the Winter of 1779-1780” for the New Jersey History journal in 1968 and published a 1975 book, “New Jersey’s Revolutionary War Powder Mill,” documenting the mill built along the Whippany River to supply gunpowder to Continental Army troops.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey. For information about the Foundation, visit www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE.