Our History

The Land Conservancy's History

2019                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leased a 12-acre farm field to City Green, which will grow organic produce to be sold at half price to underprivileged urban residents.

• Completed the Lubbers Run project, the largest land preservation project in the
organization’s history. Completed the preservation of 3400 acres over 14 years, including 16 mountain tops, nine ponds, more than 10 miles of trails, including four miles of the Highlands trail.
Established our Highlands Watershed Preservation Fund to provide funds for acquiring more land in the N.J. Highlands.
• Established our Legacy Giving Circle thanks to a generous bequest gift challenge from
the Janet Ross Fund, to encourage members to name The Conservancy in their estate planning and provide the organization with funds to preserve land into the future.
• The Land Conservancy Vice President of Land Preservation, Sandy Urgo receives the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in Land Conservation.

• Established our Farmland Preservation Fund to accelerate The Conservancy’s work to preserve more farmland, thanks to a generous grant from the 1772 Foundation.
• Began work to transform four former farm fields into a 31-acre native wildflower meadow to help the imperiled monarch butterfly.

• The Land Conservancy reaches a host of important milestones including; preserving our 20,000th acre of open space, celebrating our 500th Partners for Parks Project, and awarding a total of more than $200,000 in scholarships to future environmental leaders.
• Played a leading role in the campaign to establish a constitutional dedication of a portion of the Corporate Business Tax to provide permanent new state open space funding for Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation as well as restoration of parks. The Land Conservancy helped raise $1,500,000 in private funds to educate the public about the referendum.
• Began to help Woodbridge and Green Acres contact and buy out homeowners flooded by Super Storm Sandy. This effort eventually facilitated the buyout of 160 flood prone homes.

2013                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Received the 2013 Garden State Green Award and a 2013 Smart Growth Award fromNew Jersey Future for the Pompton Riverwalk project.                  • Led the successful effort to convince the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund to provide funding to acquire flood prone homes.                               • Established our Rosalie Lavinthal Volunteer of the Year award to recognize outstanding individuals and corporations that provide outstanding service to The Land Conservancy each year.                                                                                                                                                                          • Established a community garden at the South Branch Preserve with 68 plots. The garden has since grown to 145 plots and gardeners have donated more than 2000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks.

• Began work to restore four former farm fields into a 37-acre forested riparian buffer to the South Branch of the Raritan River, one of the largest reforestation projects in New Jersey.
• The Land Conservancy received the 2012 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Quality Award for our restoration work at the South Branch Preserve Restoration Site in Mount Olive.

• The Land Conservancy partnered with the N.J. Water Supply Authority, Mount Olive Township, Morris County, the State of New Jersey, Raritan Headwaters Association and The Trust for Public Land to preserve the 135-acre Rezamir Estates property. Preserving
this site was critical because it lies within the headwaters of the South Branch of the
Raritan River, a drinking water source for more than 1 million New Jersey residents. Following the closing, The Conservancy began work to restore the land to its natural state, completing the first restoration of a residential subdivision ever accomplished in New Jersey in just four months!
• Led the successful effort to convince the Morris County Open Space Trust Fund to provide funding to acquire flood prone homes.

• Became the first land trust in New Jersey to receive accreditation. Awarded by The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, the accreditation seal is awarded to organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting open space lands, upholding the public trust and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent.
• Played a leading role in the lobbying and public education campaign which resulted in approval of a referendum to provide $400 million in new state open space funding for Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation. The Conservancy helped raise
$750,000 in private funds to educate the public about the referendum.

2008                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • With the scope of our work reaching far beyond the Morris County area, Morris Land Conservancy changed our name to The Land Conservancy of New Jersey.

•Played a leading role in the lobbying and public education campaign which resulted in approval of a referendum to provide $200 million in new state open space funding for Green Acres, historic and farmland preservation. The Conservancy helped raise $150,000 in private funds to educate the public about the referendum.
• Thanks to a generous gift in memory of long-time Trustee Dick Sargent, The Land Conservancy established the Richard M. Sargent Internship to help educate the next generation of environmental leaders.
• Hosted our first Gray Cup Golf Classic to honor retiring Chairman of the Board Gray Rogers. This annual event has grown into the organization’s largest fundraiser.
• Established the Pequest Preserve in Green Township, the organization’s first Preserve.

• The Rogers Family Scholarship was established greatly expanding the impact of our Scholarship Program to help educate future environmental leaders.
• Hosted a party for 500 Conservancy supporters to celebrate the organization’s 25 th anniversary.
• Helped to found the Keep It Green coalition (KIG) to lobby for increased state Green Acres, farmland and historic preservation funding. KIG eventually grows to 180-member organization and becomes the leading voice for increased state open space funding in New Jersey.

• Preserved our 10,000th acre highlighted by the 525-acre Koehler Estate property, added to the Wildcat Ridge Wildlife Management Area; and the 1,200-acre Lam property in Kinnelon added to the Morris County Park System.
• The Conservancy was honored to receive the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Take Pride in America award and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation.
• Helped Pequannock develop a plan to purchase all of the regularly flooded homes along the Pompton River to remove residents from harm’s way while creating recreational access to the river. 47 homes were eventually purchased and demolished.
• The Conservancy accepts its first conservation easement for the spectacular Craigmeur Cliffs in Rockaway Township.

• Successfully completed our Preserve Now – Protect Forever campaign which raised $3 million to establish our Land Preservation Fund to accelerate the organization’s ability to preserve more land with a goal of preserving 27,000 acres.

• The Aresty Mapping Center was established thanks to a generous contribution from Jim and Wendy Aresty.  The Center produces professional, computer-generated maps that are being used throughout the state as an important tool to target critical open space lands for

• Morris Parks and Land Conservancy changed its name to Morris Land Conservancy.  We preserved our 1000th acre, as a result of projects in Randolph, West Milford, Pequannock, Madison, Mt. Olive and Kinnelon.

• The Land Conservancy completed its first land acquisition project, purchasing the development rights on a 100-acre farm in Washington Township and simultaneously transferring these rights to the Morris County Agricultural Development Board.
• Completed an Open Space Plan for Morris Township, the first in the organization’s history.

• Eight volunteers from the Florham Park office of the Prudential Insurance Company of America improved the landscaping in Jefferson’s popular Children’s Park.  This volunteer project launched The Conservancy’s award winning Partners for Parks Program that continues to put volunteer teams to work on one day projects to beautify and maintain our region’s magnificent parks.

1995                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Randolph Township became the first town to retain Morris Parks and Land Conservancy as its Open Space Advisor.  Our Partners for Greener Communities program grew from this early effort to forge partnerships with the towns to preserve open space.

• No longer functioning on volunteers alone, The Conservancy hired its first permanent staff on June 14, 1994, David Epstein became the first Executive Director.

• As its activities increased, the Morris County Parks and Conservation Foundation changed its name to Morris Parks and Land Conservancy.
• Published the first issue of our newsletter featuring a tribute to recently deceased founder, Russell W. Myers.

1983                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Russell W. Myers Scholarship, the Conservancy’s longest continuously running program, was established through a dinner that raised money for an endowment to fund our Scholarship Program.  This scholarship provides annual awards to New Jersey college students pursuing careers in environmental preservation.

• The Land Conservancy of New Jersey was established on July 30, 1981 as the Morris County Parks and Conservation Foundation. The brainchild of Russell W. Meyers, the first director of the Morris County Park Commission, the organization was conceived to assist the Park Commission in accomplishing its mission and to ensure that his life’s work would continue after he was gon