The D&R Greenway Land Trust has preserved 11.6 acres of land within the Millstone River Watershed in Montgomery Township that environmentalists say is a critical link in the Rock Brook Greenway.
The former farmland that is now woods along the Rock Brook was donated to the D&R Greenway by Jeanne Sorensen Siegel of New York City and Adam Leff of Los Angeles. The property will be transferred, after necessary approvals, to Montgomery Township. The township and Montgomery Friends of Open Space are working together to create a greenway along the Rock Brook.
“Montgomery Friends of Open Space has been trying to preserve land along the Rock Brook, Montgomery’s cleanest stream and one of Montgomery’s most picturesque areas, with great historic and environmental value as well,” said Montgomery Friends of Open Space President Sarah Roberts. “We have already acquired or helped the Township acquire three tracts of land in the stream corridor, and we’re pleased to add this new tract. This is a great opportunity to preserve another piece of the stream corridor, and allow the trees to grow up into mature forest, which will protect the water quality. The land has a beautiful view of the Rock Brook along one side, and the forest across the brook, and there is the opportunity to build a pathway someday.”
The property is adjacent to preserved forested land owned by Montgomery Township. The corridor that borders the Rock Brook and its tributary includes scarlet oak, basswood, red maple, white oak, black birch and flowering dogwood. The floodplain along the Rock Brook tributary is dominated by American elm and black cherry. The mature trees along the bluff provide perch sites for foraging bald eagle that has been documented in the immediate vicinity by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species Program.
The property includes an old field that is transitioning to a young forest, with red cedar, crabapple, hawthorn, pin oak and black walnut. This portion of the property provides shelter and a nesting habitat for a wide variety of songbirds as well as potential roosting habitat for small raptors. The Great Blue Heron has been documented on or near the property.
Montgomery Mayor Patricia Graham said the successful collaboration between the township, the D&R Greenway, and Montgomery Friends of Open Space will benefit residents for generations to come.
In late 2015, Congress voted to make permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation. The incentive encourages landowners to place a conservation easement on their land to protect natural, scenic and historic resources. The D&R Greenway was among the 1,100 land trusts nationwide to support the incentive through a multi-year campaign. The D&R Greenway is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, the national land conservation organization that led the campaign for permanence.
In addition to the tax incentive for easements, landowners who gift the land outright or a portion of its value through a discounted sale can also receive tax breaks.
“Many more landowners can now make their dream of preserving land come true, thanks to the permanent tax benefits available under IRS regulations,” said D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. “At a time when the public funding we were used to having in New Jersey is not always available, the new legislation provides for landowners who can benefit from a federal tax deduction for donating all or a part of the value of the land for conservation or agricultural purposes.”