New Jersey Conservation Foundation

06/18/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/18/2024 08:30

141 acres in Maurice River Watershed permanently protected

Jun 18, 2024

The property is part of a core forest that spans the central portion of Franklin Township into Monroe Township.

FRANKLIN TWP., NJ - Recently, 141 forested acres in Gloucester County were permanently protected from development thanks to a joint effort by multiple conservation organizations alongside state and municipal governments. The effort, led by South Jersey Land and Water Trust (SJLWT), will not only prevent the deforestation of this ecologically important property, but also preserve quality wildlife habitat and clean drinking water.

On May 30, SJLWT and New Jersey Conservation Foundation purchased the property for $750,000 using grant funding through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Green Acres Program. SJLWT will own and manage the property, which will be open to the public for passive recreation and activities related to environmental education.

The property, which fronts Main Road and Tuckahoe Road in Franklin Township, belonged to the Louis Schipani Estate and William Hallissey. The landowners generously donated a significant portion of the land value.

Additional funding for the purchase of the land came from DEP's Office of Natural Resource Restoration (ONRR), and Franklin Township. Natural Lands, a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania, also contributed toward the costs associated with acquiring the property.

"Many thanks to the Louis Schipani Estate and William Hallissey for their commitment to, and generous contribution toward, the preservation of this woodland gem. Maintaining woodlands is an essential tool in our efforts to combat the effects of climate change," said Christine Nolan, SJLWT's Executive Director. "SJLWT is also deeply grateful for the support of our preservation partners who enabled these 141 acres of forested habitat to be permanently protected for wildlife and our enjoyment of nature."

The property is part of a core forest that spans the central portion of Franklin Township into Monroe Township and serves as a significant forest connector.

"Having this contiguous forest is a tremendous asset for the region," said Rob Ferber, New Jersey Conservation Foundation's Regional Manager for the Delaware Bay Watershed. "This beautiful, natural carbon sink improves air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, together with other forests, farmlands, and wetlands across the state, can offset a portion of New Jersey's greenhouse gas emissions."

The property is located close to the DEP's White Oak Branch Wildlife Management Area, which serves as habitat for bald eagle, red‐shouldered hawk, barred owl, Northern pine snake, Cooper's hawk, great blue heron, sharp‐shinned hawk, wood thrush, and worm‐eating warbler. The property is also a high point of the Maurice River Watershed where headwaters converge and create streams that feed the Maurice River, which is federally designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

"Green Acres is very proud to have helped in the preservation of this important property," said DEP Green Acres Program Director Martha Sullivan Sapp. "Making connections for both people and wildlife is central to our conservation and recreation goals, and we congratulate our partners on this successful acquisition."

"The Township Committee and I are delighted to see this preservation of over 140 acres of additional open space in Franklin Township, and are glad that we were able to assist in these efforts," said Franklin Township Mayor Jake Bruno. "This preservation of the Schipani-Hallissey property adds to the more than 600 acres of Township farmland that have been preserved since 2019, along with 200 additional acres of farmland which are in the application process."

About South Jersey Land and Water Trust

The South Jersey Land and Water Trust (SJLWT) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization. We were established in 1990, and work to protect and preserve the land and water resources of southern New Jersey by preserving wildlife habitat and farmland; protecting water quality through watershed protection efforts; and promoting a greater appreciation for nature through activities and events. Our mission is to maintain and enhance the natural, cultural, and historic heritage of the region and counter the progression of global warming. SJLWT has assisted in the preservation of over 2,400 acres of land since our inception. Visit sjlandwater.org to learn more and join us.

About New Jersey Conservation Foundation

Recognizing that a healthy environment is critical to the well-being and survival of all living things, New Jersey Conservation Foundation is devoted to preserving land and protecting natural resources throughout New Jersey's rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

Since 1960, the nonprofit, nonpartisan, statewide organization has preserved more than 140,000 acres of open space, farmland, and parks. The organization manages more than a dozen nature preserves, conducts public outreach and education programs, and advocates for sensible land use and climate policies that will protect the health of New Jersey's plants, wildlife, and people for generations to come.