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http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2005/05_0090.htm

DEP, LOCAL & NON-PROFIT PARTNERS PRESERVE HIGHLANDS TRACT

Property Will Expand Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today announced the preservation of the 525-acre Koehler
property in Rockaway Township, Morris County. The protection of this
Highlands Preservation Area property will conserve water resources,
threatened and endangered species habitat and scenic views. The Morris
County Open Space Trust, the Morris Land Conservancy, the Rockaway
Township Open Space Trust and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) also
contributed to the purchase.

"Protecting our drinking water and open space remains among the State
of New Jersey's highest priorities," said Acting Governor Richard J.
Codey.

"The preservation of the Koehler property complements DEP's
preservation of the nearby Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area and
reinforces our commitment to work with local and non-profit partners to
protect open space in the Highlands Preservation Area," said
Commissioner Campbell.

The Koehler tract is heavily wooded and provides critical habitat for
threatened and endangered species including the bobcat, barred owl, bald
eagle, Indiana bat, red-shouldered hawk and wood turtle.

Preservation of the Koehler property protects the Split Rock Reservoir
watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than three million New
Jersey residents. The property is adjacent to the Split Rock Reservoir
and contains a tributary of the Beaver Brook, which serves as the
headwaters for the Rockaway River. The property also includes Category
One-designated streams and associated wetlands.

"This is the kind of preservation project that Morris County is proud
to be part of -- bringing together a generous, visionary landowner; a
strongly conservation-minded town; two exceptional land organizations;
plus the State of New Jersey and the federal government," said Morris
County Freeholder Director Jack Shrier. "With Morris County's
contribution of $2 million, one-third of the total, we are delighted we
could make this a reality."

DEP will manage the property as an addition to the adjacent 3,100-acre
Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area. The Koehler property contains
two miles of the 40-mile Farny Highlands Trail Network, a regional trail
system connecting state, county and municipal parks in the area.

"The Koehler Estate property is a vital missing link in our long-term
plan to preserve a connected series of open spaces in the northern
Morris County region known as the Farny Highlands," said Morris Land
Conservancy Executive Director David Epstein. "It is exciting to
complete this project with the Koehler family which helped us design the
original preservation plans for this region nearly 15 years ago."

"The Trust for Public Land has worked for more than two decades to
protect the watersheds of the Highlands. "We are pleased to have played
a role in preserving this land with the state, adding to the more than
29,000 Highlands acres we have protected to date," said TPL New Jersey
Director Terrence Nolan.

DEP purchased the $6.12 million Koehler property in partnership with
Morris County Open Space Trust, the Morris Land Conservancy, the
Rockaway Township Open Space Trust and the Trust for Public Land (TPL).
The DEP Green Acres program contributed $3.4 million in state
acquisition funds and non-profit grants to the Morris Land Conservancy
and TPL. The Morris County Open Space Trust contributed $2 million, the
Rockaway Township Open Space Trust contributed $600,000 and TPL
contributed $120,000. The Federal Forest Legacy fund is expected to
reimburse DEP $1 million for the purchase of the property.

"The Koehler property and the entire Highlands region sit at the center
of the most densely populated area of the country," said Congressman
Rodney Frelinghuysen. "The purchase of the Koehler tract is a major
victory for preserving pristine land, and it further demonstrates our
commitment to taking every step necessary to protect open space in the
Highlands."

The New Jersey Highlands is a 1,000 square mile area in the Northwest
part of the state, stretching from Phillipsburg in the Southwest to
Ringwood in the Northeast. It lies within portions of seven counties and
87 municipalities. Sixty-four percent of New Jersey residents, about 5.4
million people, receive their water from the Highlands. Those residents
live in 292 municipalities in 16 counties.

"Rockaway Township is proud to be a part of a large group that has
worked very hard for the past decade to preserve a 525-acre portion of
the Koehler land," said Rockaway Township Mayor Louis S. Sceusi.

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally
sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and
historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide
system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural
areas.

In 2005, the Green Acres Program has preserved over 11,188 acres of
open space. To date, Green Acres has protected over 569,000 acres of
open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide.
The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals almost
1.3 million acres.
 
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