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Open Space Institute announces loan to protect key watershed and endangered species in the New Jersey Highlands

NEW YORK, NY - October 25, 2006 - The Open Space Institute (OSI) announced that it recently made a loan in Hunterdon County, New Jersey to protect water quality and critical wildlife habitat. The loan was made to the Tewksbury Land Trust (TLT) through OSI's New Jersey Conservation Loan Fund. 

TLT, working in partnership with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) and Upper Raritan Watershed Association (URWA), purchased a 37-acre tract that is part of a larger effort to protect the Cold Brook Watershed, which feeds, the Raritan River and helps provide drinking water to 1.5 million people. 

“We are excited to be partnering with these three organizations to preserve this critical landscape,” said Peter Howell, OSI's Vice President. “New Jersey has long been a priority region for OSI due to the high development pressures that threaten rural landscapes and natural resources. With the state facing full development build-out in 30 years, there is an urgency to protect the most important open spaces while it's still possible.” 

The Tewksbury Land Trust utilized a $1 million loan from OSI toward the $1.25 million purchase of the Lance Estate, which is located within the Highlands Preservation Area, an area of statewide conservation concern. The property is an important source of drinking water for Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties and provides habitat for the NJ endangered red-shouldered hawk as well as threatened coopers hawk and barred owl. The property will be open for public recreation and managed by TLT in partnership with the NJCF, which guaranteed part of OSI's loan and managed the acquisition, and holds a minority ownership interest in the property. 

“The property contains mature forests, agricultural land and a trout production, headwater stream of the Cold Brook,” said Ken Klipstein, President of the Tewksbury Land Trust. “Together, our organizations are creating a significant greenbelt of land surrounding the Cold Brook, which is vital to our region's water supply. The New Jersey Water Supply Authority has identified this property as critical for water resource protection.” 

Permanent funding for the project has been committed by the State of New Jersey's Green Acres Fund Program, the Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund, Tewksbury Township and the Lamington Conservancy. 

The Tewksbury Land Trust, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Upper Raritan Watershed Association are working to raise an additional $180,000 to repay OSI's loan. To support the project, you may contact the Tewksbury Land Trust at (908) 439-2923, or [email protected] 

OSI initiated the New Jersey Conservation Loan Fund (NJCLF) in January of 2003 with a $3.5 million Program Related Investment from the Geraldine R. Dodge and William Penn Foundations. The NJCLF provides short-term, low-interest, bridge loans to nonprofit organizations working to permanently protect New Jersey's remaining open space. To date, the Fund has made 10 loans in NJ, totaling $5.9 million to protect 10,351 acres. The Loan Program operates throughout NJ but recognizes certain ecologically critical areas defined as the highest priorities by New Jersey's conservation community: the Highlands in the northwest; the Pinelands; the Barnegat Bay watershed; and the Delaware Bay Shore area. 

Other NJCLF loan beneficiaries have included the Morris Land Conservancy, D & R Greenway Inc., the Monmouth Conservation Foundation and the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. To learn more about the NJCLF's loan projects, click here. 

Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment conserve habitats and sustain community character. OSI's New Jersey Conservation Loan Program was launched in January of 2003 with $3.5 million in Program Related Investments (PRIs) from the Geraldine R. Dodge and William Penn Foundations to support conservation in New Jersey. To date OSI has made 10 loans in NJ, totaling $5.9 million to protect 10,351 acres; the Fund is administered by Conservation Resources, Inc

The Tewksbury Land Trust was formed in 1993 to preserve open space and farmland in Tewksbury Township. The Trust is responsible for preserving and managing over 250 acres through an acquisition and conservation easement program. TLT is a member of the Land Trust Alliance and has adopted the Land Trust Standards and Practices, guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust. 

Since 1960, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation has preserved over 100,000 acres of land from the New Jersey Highlands to the Delaware Bayshore, permanently protecting forests, farmland and natural resources, all vital to New Jersey's future. 

The Upper Raritan Watershed Association was formed in 1959. The association's mission is to secure the environmental future of the region through advocacy, land preservation, education and research. URWA currently holds 31 conservation easements, owns 11 properties that are managed as preserves and has been instrumental in preserving over 2,000 acres. URWA is a member of the Land Trust Alliance and has adopted the Land Trust Standards and Practices, guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust.

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