Another key addition to the Sourland Mountain Preserve has been accomplished through a partnership between Somerset County and Montgomery Township.
The property to be preserved is located at the intersection of Pleasant View Road and Route 601. It will be purchased from owner Bryce W. Thompson IV, for $1,999,200. Montgomery Township has agreed to contribute 30 percent of the purchase price towards Somerset County's acquisition of the property, from its open space fund.
"Like many residents, my family and I moved to Montgomery in part because of the open space, the farmland and the incredible Sourland Mountain Preserve," said Freeholder Mark Caliguire, a former Montgomery mayor. "I'm proud to say that Somerset County continues its successful open space preservation program that has received bipartisan support for many years."
This scenic property consists of 59 acres, primarily an open
farm with areas of woodland. The acquisition will help to preserve the bucolic character of the area at the base of the Sourland Mountain. The preservation also serves to provide a buffer between the largely undeveloped land to the south in Montgomery and the residential development to the north in Hillsborough. The parcel will remain in its existing state forever and will become part of the county's Sourland Mountain Preserve, bringing the total preserve area to 6,150 acres.
photo courtesy of Montgomery Twp.
"We appreciate that our town's partnership with the county will preserve this beautiful viewshed and a piece of Montgomery's history as a predominantly agricultural community, while at the same time significantly expanding the Sourland Mountain Preserve," said Mayor Patricia Graham. "Montgomery's open spaces are a part of its identity and this expansion of the Preserve will benefit residents long into the future."
At this time, Somerset County's land management plans include the continuation of crop farming with the future investigation into maintaining the open field areas as grassland habitat. Last year soybeans were grown. Over 35 percent of Montgomery Township is preserved as open space.
"This land has been a top priority for the past few years. After a lot of hard work, it is truly exciting to get the deal done and preserve this beautiful land. Protecting Montgomery's rural character is one of our core governing principles. Over the past several years, almost 500 acres of new open space has been preserved. Well-deserved thanks to Freeholder Mark Caliguire for leading the process for the county team. It was a great team effort," said Deputy Mayor and Open Space Liaison Ed Trzaska.
Freeholder Caliguire added, "Thanks to Montgomery Mayor Pat Graham, Deputy Mayor Ed Trzaska, liaison to the Open Space Committee, and the other members of the Montgomery Township Committee and the Montgomery Open Space Committee for their willingness to work with Somerset County in ensuring that these considerable holdings remain as open space for the enjoyment of all area residents - present and future."
In 2012, the county purchased 256 acres from Carrier Clinic (175 acres in Montgomery and the remainder in Hillsborough), which is adjacent to the Thompson property. Montgomery Township is now working to acquire an additional 15 acres nearby on the opposite side of Route 601, as well as several other tracts of land throughout the community.