With a worldwide pandemic raging, there has been a significant shortage of good news and too much uncertainty of late. But today is Earth Day—its 50th anniversary, in fact—and at The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, we are celebrating. The Earth has always been here for us, and we continue to show up and help the Earth, just as we have for the past four decades.
So it’s fitting that we are able to announce significant steps forward on a few long-term projects at our land preserves around the state.
Ramapo Mountain Preserve
The first is the purchase of a six-acre property known as Owl Woods in Mahwah. It’s a small piece of land but a critical addition to Ramapo Mountain Preserve, since it enables us to add a small parking area for those trekking up Split Rock Mountain. This is helpful to us as we grow the preserve, but also for members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation. Split Rock Mountain is an important cultural site, and until now there has not been safe, accessible parking in the area for them to access it. We were able to fund this acquisition thanks to our partners at Green Acres, Bergen County, and Bergen SWAN.
Nancy Conger West Brook Preserve
In West Milford at our Nancy Conger West Brook Preserve, we have undertaken the big job of restoring the headwaters of the West Brook and its surrounding wetlands. The West Brook feeds the Wanaque Reservoir, which 2 million NJ residents rely on for clean drinking water. As you can imagine, this restoration process is necessarily complicated, careful, and slow, so we are thrilled that the NJDEP has provided us with our permit to undertake the West Brook restoration project this summer! We submitted the permit application more than a year ago and have worked tirelessly to provide all the information needed, hire an engineer, and follow up tirelessly with state and federal officials. Our contractor is lined up and ready to start during the first week of August.
South Branch Preserve
And finally, at our South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive, we installed cedar steps on the trail down to the bird blind and named the trail in honor of Bud Schwartz, whose property we preserved in Franklin Lakes in 2017 and whose family made a generous gift in his name to help us care for the preserve. Their gift greatly improved a steep and muddy trail to make it safer and more accessible. We also installed a memorial bench along the trail in Bud’s honor.
All this and more make today a truly happy Earth Day. Today is an especially appropriate moment to savor nature’s beauty, which is free and accessible even now, even if it’s in some small way. Feel a spring breeze and watch birds through an open window; explore an unfamiliar path or a patch of forest. And we’ll be working behind the scenes like we always are. Our legacy is to leave behind a better world for you and future generations to enjoy.