58 acres added to D&R Greenway’s Plum Brook Preserve near Stockton

Cisek property. Photo by Tina Notas.

The D&R Greenway Land Trust has added 58 forested acres to its Plum Brook Preserve in Delaware Township in Hunterdon County.

Located at 190 Locktown Sergeantsville Road near Stockton, the preserve is now 311 acres. The site includes five permanently preserved neighboring parcels, including the Beagle Club property.

The purchase was made possible by a regional partnership that was facilitated by Delaware Township and was also supported by NJ Green Acres funds and a grant.

“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of everyone involved, including the Cisek Family and D&R Greenway Land Trust,” Delaware Township Mayor Charlie Herman said. “Partnerships like these are essential in preserving our valuable open spaces.”

A portion of a land-preservation bequest from a former D&R Greenway trustee, Eugene Gladston, enabled the 58-acre purchase to be finalized on June 30. The D&R Greenway’s revolving land fund will be reimbursed after closing, so that the Gladston bequest will continue to support new preservation efforts.

The 58 acre-property belonged to the Joseph Cisek family, whose widow, Joan, sold their bucolic land for permanent protection at a price that included a partial donation of value.

“This is exactly what Dad would have wanted. He loved nature, and I am sure he is smiling down. Dad is happy, Mom is happy and we the family are all happy,” daughter Patricia Kulita said. “These are 58 acres that will not be developed. It will stay as it is now, forever.”

D&R Greenway Executive Director Linda Mead said her organization is one acquisition away from its next milestone goal.

“Our public partners worked diligently from home during this COVID pandemic, ensuring success in a time when residents are appreciating the great outdoors more than ever,” She said. “Our good friend, Gene Gladston, expert birder that he was, believed that the most important freedom we can exercise is to preserve the only planet we inhabit. There are so many wonderful people and stories to celebrate along with this actual closing on the former Cisek land.”

Farm fields and pastures, as well as wood lots, stretched to the boundaries of the property into the early 1900s when farming and pasturing were discontinued. A natural conversion to woodlands took place. Cisek purchased the land in 1951 and began working with state and local foresters to ensure the healthy management of his woodlands.

“Walking the Cisek land brings you back in time. There are stone house ruins, probably from the 1800s. A strong sense of true Garden State history is apparent in the stone walls that were built generations past when the land was farmed,” said Danielle Dobisch, the D&R Greenway’s director of land preservation.

Pileated woodpecker photo
by Brenda Jones

The property’s wooded habitat supports crucial birdlife, including species identified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as “species and communities of management concern.” Among the property’s significant birds are the hairy woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker, and the red-bellied woodpecker. The Carolina wren, the tufted titmouse, and the white-breasted nuthatch also thrive on the property. Its healthy woodlands include deciduous upland and wetland forests with red, white and pin oak, eastern red cedar, tulip poplar, red maple, American beech, and shagbark hickory. Shrubs include viburnum, hop-hornbeam, and ironwood.

“You can’t help but be in awe of nature when you look around and see the big open sky and the variety of trees, plants, birds, and animals,” Kulita said.