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OSI grant helps TNC complete the preservation of over 500 acres

VINELAND, NJ — June 28, 2012 — Drawing assistance from OSI’s Bayshore-Highlands Land Protection Fund, The Nature Conservancy has purchased 162 acres of forested lands in southern New Jersey, completing the final phase of a large scale three-phase land preservation project. The project, which spanned three years, protects 509 acres of forested lands encompassing the headwaters of the Manumuskin River, part of the federally designated Wild and Scenic Maurice River System. 

The property, previously owned by the Diocese of Camden, lies in the heart of the Maurice River watershed in Cumberland County, one of the state’s most pristine rivers and home to a significant variety of rare plants, reptiles and amphibians and an array of migrating and breeding birds. 

“The property very narrowly avoided development,” said Barbara Brummer, PhD, director of The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey. “In 2009 a residential developer had an option to purchase the property, with the intent of building 980 homes and a golf course on the property. When the option expired we acted quickly to step in to protect these lands.”

“The Diocese truly is a critical piece of the Maurice River watershed,” added Bob Allen, director of conservation programs for The Nature Conservancy. “Protecting this area protects one of the most pristine freshwater systems in the state.”

The final phase of the project cost $640,000, bringing the total to over $2 million for all three phases. In addition to OSI’s funding, the preservation of this land was made possible by critical funding received from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, Chemglass, PEPCO Holdings, Inc., the Stone Foundation of New Jersey and many others. 

The Bayshore-Highlands Fund was created in 2011 with a $5 million seed grant from the William Penn Foundation. The Fund focuses on two regions with economic and ecological importance to the northeastern U.S. 

The New Jersey Bayshore contains significant habitat for plants and animals and a strong agricultural economy, while the Pennsylvania Highlands is the source of drinking water for 14 million people in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, contains numerous trails for hiking, and supports a viable farm economy as well.

In August 2011, OSI made a $200,000 grant to TNC—also through the Bayshore-Highlands Fund—that helped the organization acquire 325 acres in Phase 2 of the three-phase project. 

“The Open Space Institute is very pleased to have played a role in the conservation of Phases 2 and 3 of this regionally significant project,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president. “By protecting intact forested headwaters of the Manumuskin River, part of a federally designated Wild and Scenic River system, this project epitomizes the very best of conservation. It protects flora and fauna and a freshwater system that helps meet human needs as well. We are honored to have joined with Green Acres to help The Nature Conservancy complete this important project.”

Dr. Brummer stressed the importance of these supporters.

“We are truly grateful to longstanding partners like the William Penn Foundation, the Green Acres Program, and the many other good friends whose commitment to protecting our state’s natural lands and waters make great projects like this possible,” she said. 

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