Somerset County and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation have partnered to purchase 29 acres of land along County Route 601 in Montgomery to be added to the Sourland Mountain Preserve.
The land was purchased from developer Bryce Thompson. Another 1-acre purchase from Thompson is still pending. “The preservation of Mr. Thompson’s property continues the county’s aggressive preservation efforts of environmentally significant lands within the Sourland Mountain region,” Somerset County Freeholder Director Mark Caliguire said.
“The Sourland Mountain Preserve is a wonderful place to hike and enjoy nature, and we’re happy to see it expanded with these 30 additional acres,” said Michele Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
The property will remain largely in its natural, wooded state and the
county will consider ways to use it for passive recreation, officials said. The property is contiguous to other open space lands bought by Somerset County in recent years and continues the preservation of environmentally sensitive lands within the Sourland Mountain region.
Cruser Brook, a mile-long stream within the Raritan River drainage basin, traverses the property. The preservation of Cruser Brook and other water courses is critical for the enhancement of surface water quality and for preserving the environmental health of water bodies, many of which feed public drinking water supplies, officials said.
The Sourland Mountain region is a 20,000-acre continuous green swath of intact forest and farmland spanning parts of three largely developed central New Jersey counties. It extends from the central part of Hillsborough Township, Somerset County, southwest to the Delaware River in West Amwell, Hunterdon County, and Hopewell Township. The land is home to many rare plant and animal species, and provides a nesting and migratory stopover habitat for over 100 species of migratory birds.
Somerset County began preservation efforts in the Sourland Mountains region in Hillsborough and Montgomery Townships in the early 1970s. With the addition of the Thompson property, the Preserve is nearing 6,000 acres, making it the largest park in
Somerset County’s 14,200-acre park system.