The Land Conservancy is beyond delighted to announce the addition of 40 acres to our Ramapo Mountain Preserve–a deal five years in the making. This photo is from a staff hike back in 2016!
This land in Mahwah, with vistas of the Manhattan skyline, buffers 13,000 acres of county and state parkland that comprises the largest area of undeveloped land in Bergen County. It’s a critical wildlife habitat and refuge from the hustle and bustle of northeast New Jersey’s traffic, commercial real estate, and densely populated areas. The property is also an important watershed, providing clean water to the Ramapo River—a significant drinking water source for northern New Jersey.
We purchased the land, unused and leftover from the construction of Route 287, from the NJDOT. With help from partners including the NJ Audubon Society, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, property once slated to be a highway will be preserved in perpetuity. The Land Conservancy’s Ramapo Mountain Preserve now totals 92 acres and will continue to grow.
The Department of Transportation bought the large tract in 1991 while planning to complete interstate highway 287. The land remained unused through 2017, when we sought to have it declared surplus. Eventually it was put up for public auction in September 2019. We were the high bidder at the auction and subsequently enlisted the assistance of open space advocate Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi in navigating the bureaucracy of the bustling NJDOT to complete the transaction.
Future use of the property is still being evaluated, and much of the land is rugged terrain and difficult for visitors to navigate. Nevertheless, we are assessing the potential to continue the Cannonball Trail—which currently extends from Pompton Lakes to Mahwah—through the Ramapo Mountain Preserve and into New York State, through the village of Hillburn into Harriman State Park, and ultimately to the Hudson River. For now, precious wildlife habitats and scenic views will remain undisturbed thanks to the permanent preservation of this property.