Two land purchases will add another 63.5 acres of open space to the Sourland Mountain Preserve, bringing the total preserve area to about 6,150 acres.
A partnership between Somerset County and Montgomery Township will add 59 acres to the preserve at the intersection of Pleasant View Road and Route 601.
The land will be purchased from developer Bryce Thompson for $2 million. Montgomery Township has agreed to contribute 30 percent of the purchase price towards Somerset County’s acquisition of the property from the town’s open space fund.
“Like many residents, my family and I moved to Montgomery in part because of the open space, the farmland and the incredible Sourland Mountain Preserve,” said Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire. “I’m proud to say that Somerset County continues its successful open space preservation program that has received bipartisan support for many years.”
The property is mostly open farmland, with some woodland. Officials said the purchase will provide a buffer between the largely undeveloped land to the south in Montgomery and the residential development to the north in Hillsborough.
Another 4.5 acres of land has been added to the preserve through a partnership between The New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Somerset County and Hillsborough Township.
The property, located near the intersection of Wertsville and Montgomery roads, is woodland and open fields. Two structures on the property are scheduled for demolition. The land is contiguous to other open space lands bought by Somerset County in recent years. Officials say the purchase will encourage the expansion of the Preserve to the Hunterdon County border.
A June 13 closing was held on the 4.5 acres. The land is part of a 78 acres that deeded to the Somerset County Open Space program by land owner John Higgins. The purchase price for the 4.5 acres was $165,000. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation secured an option agreement to purchase the 78 acres from Higgins, which was transferred to Somerset County. Hillsborough Township has contributed $500,000 toward the county’s preservation of the entire 78 acres, which had a total purchase price of $1,342,472. The county closed on the initial 73.5 acres in September.
“The acquisition of the 4.5- acre Higgins parcel, although small in size, constitutes another important piece of the puzzle that makes up the vast Sourland Mountain Preserve,” Caliguire said. “Starting with the county’s preservation of one 22-acre parcel in 1972, the Preserve has grown into one of the largest county park areas in the state. Continued preservation of the Sourland Mountain will maintain critical wildlife habitat and the many stream corridors that feed the drinking water supply for so many county residents.”