Montgomery Township's Cherry Brook Preserve has been increased with the addition of 36.5 acres of woodland, thanks to a new open space acquisition by the Township. The closing on the new parcel, located to the south of the existing preserve, took place on November 16th.
The purchase will provide a new recreational access point along Cherry Hill Road to the 400-acre Cherry Brook Preserve. This preserve is one of the largest and most valuable contiguous pieces of open space and wildlife habitat remaining in southern Montgomery.
"Our Cherry Brook Preserve is critical for preserving Montgomery's rural character and for providing pathways and recreation options for our residents. Look for upcoming enhancements to the local pathway system that will hopefully connect all the way to our commercial district near Route 206," said Committeeman Ed Trzaska.
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The acquisition will also allow the creation of a new parking area and access to the existing trails network. Cherry Brook Preserve offers many passive recreation opportunities, such as walking, hiking, fishing, birding, tracking, and cross-country skiing. No motorized vehicles are permitted.
The new property was approved for residential development, which factored into its assessment and the $2 million purchase price. However, $1.655 million came from Williams -Transco as compensation from a construction project in town (see more below). The remaining funds came from the Township's open space trust fund.
With the closing of this land, the Township has preserved over 200 acres of additional open space since 2016 and over 700 new acres since 2011. This is an exciting time for land preservation and several more deals are currently being worked on.
In 2015, Transco completed work to install a gas transmission line through the Township, adjacent to an existing gas transmission line. As a result of this construction project, several preserved open space properties were impacted. The Township negotiated compensation with Transco for the permanent easements and temporary workspace needed to construct the new gas pipeline, and received $1,655,500 which was earmarked to preserve additional open space. These funds were used for this 36.5 acre purchase from Thompson Land.
This acquisition will expand the swath of uninterrupted forest in the Cherry Brook Preserve. Large contiguous parcels of uninterrupted forest are very important ecologically. Certain wildlife species especially need such habitat in order to successfully live and breed, free from predatory and other environmental pressures. When development creates holes in the forest canopy; the land may become a checkerboard of buildings, lawns, farms, roads, and scattered wood lots. While certain 'edge-loving' species, such as raccoons, deer, and opossums thrive, other species decline when more expansive habitat disappears.
Montgomery Township was awarded a grant in 2007 from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and has used it to reforest a 25-acre former farm field in the middle of the Cherry Brook Preserve forest area.