This week, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection announced that a scenic 260-acre former dairy farm located in southern Sussex County will be permanently preserved. The land is a partially forested tract filled with fields, rolling hills and views of the surrounding landscape. 222 acres of the property will be added to Kittatinny Valley State Park.
The tract of land is bordered on two sides by the Sussex Branch Trail and a recently state-acquired rail trail, which connect to the Kittatinny Valley State Park. The land was previously slated for residential development and $5.8 million agreement was reached between project partners to acquire and preserve the land. Partners included the Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, The Trust for Public Land and Andover Borough.
“Preserving these lands ensures a continued high quality of drinking water for state residents, while safeguarding habitat for many plant and animal species, enhancing recreational opportunities for our residents, and raising the quality of life in our state,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
As part of the deal, 12 acres of the land will be used by Andover Borough for recreational purposes and 5 acres will be used by Sussex County for future road widening. 21 acres were sold for non-recreational use to help recoup some of the cost of the acquisition of the preserved land. Of that, 17 acres were sold to Andover Borough for future use and 4 acres were sold to neighboring homeowners.
“This preservation effort will allow Andover Borough to maintain its quaint and historic character and our residents will continue to enjoy the small town atmosphere that has existed for over 100 years” said Andover Borough Mayor John Morgan.
“Andover Borough is a small community that came together in a big way to conserve Francisco Farm,’’ said Kathy Haake, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “We thank the residents who took an active role in opposing the development, as well as public and private funders who supported the project.’’