Greenway acquires 250th property
With acquisition of the Wooden property in West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, D&R Greenway Land Trust has reached a new milestone with preservation of the 250th property since it founding in 1989.
Walter Wooden, who owned the property and began the work with D&R Greenway to protect it, died in April 2012 at age 57 before the sale could be completed. His wife, Debra, and family brought the transaction to fruition, honoring Walter’s commitment to preserving the family legacy. The site had been purchased by Walter’s grandfather at the turn of the last century as part of a larger property.
According to family lore, he paid $3,000 for 100 acres – less than 1 percent of the $425,000 acquisition price for 43 acres in 2013.
To acquire the Wooden property, D&R Greenway put together a public and private partnership. Funds were contributed by the New Jersey’s Green Acres Program, West Amwell Township, Hunterdon Land Trust, Hunterdon County Open Space Program and The Willow School. The property is jointly owned by D&R Greenway and West Amwell Township.
“Nearly every land preservation project happening in New Jersey today is the result of regional preservation partners pooling their individual limited resources to make the deals happen,” said D&R Greenway Land Trust Vice President Jay Watson. “In order for us to continue our preservation momentum and successes, we must support the work of the Keep it Green Coalition in their efforts to work with the state Legislature to establish a stable source of open space funding,” he said.
"The Wooden farm is a part of our agricultural history and it's good to know that the property will remain in agricultural use as well as providing passive recreational access to the public. Job well done," said West Amwell Township Mayor Zach Rich.The 43-acre property extends along the west side of Woodens Lane, south of Route 518. Two large hayfields, separated by a windbreak of mature hardwood trees, paint a classic roadside scenic vista. The fields slope down to a coniferous woods. From the hilltop you can see south to Baldpate Mountain.
You can look west across the Delaware River to Jericho Mountain and Bowman’s Tower in Bucks County, Pa. Eastward, a line of trees marks the Dry Run Creek corridor that runs from the ridgetop to the valley.
The Wooden Preserve is part of the Sourland Mountain greenway that is a cohesive landscape of protected working and natural lands, connected by a growing network of publicly accessible trails. The trails link to a network that connects Mercer County’s Howell Living History Farm and Baldpate Mountain Preserve, Washington Crossing State Park, Fiddler’s Creek Preserve and trails along the D&R Canal.
The Willow School, an independent day school in Gladstone, N.J., in planning a new Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center, decided to meet the Living Building Challenge. It requires that for every acre disturbed by construction, an off-site acre must be set aside as a nature preserve or sensitive ecological habitat.
The school contributed funds to purchase two of the Wooden property’s total acres.
D&R Greenway will manage the Wooden Preserve with help from West Amwell Township and volunteers to improve habitat value for grassland and forest-dwelling birds.
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