MAPLE LANE FARM IN HILLSBOROUGH
Maple Lane Farm on Township Line Road in Hillsborough was poised for development. With its 57 acres located just east of Route 206 in the desirable community of Hillsborough, the property could have become yet another suburban subdivision.
The family who had owned the land for many years wanted to see the property remain a farm. They sought a solution that would meet their financial needs while providing for the permanent protection of the land. The landowners were friends of D&R Greenway Trustee, Rosemary Blair. When she found out the family wanted to preserve their farm, Mrs. Blair called D&R Greenway's then-Director of Land Preservation, Bill Rawlyk, to see if an answer could be found.
According to Mr. Rawlyk, "The majority of the property is agricultural land with hedgerows and forested buffer along Pikes Run. The NJDEP Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) has documented bobolink nesting on the field and meadowlarks have been observed. In the forested areas the ENSP had documented great blue heron. The bobolink is classified as a threatened species and the meadowlark and great blue heron are classified as a species of concern in New Jersey. Declining populations are due, in part, to lack of adequate breeding habitat. Having the ability to preserve New Jersey's farming heritage while at the same time, protecting imperiled wildlife made preserving Maple Lane Farm an urgent priority."
The property provides for aquifer recharge and stream corridor and wetlands protection, as well as habitat for woodland species. In addition, the property contributes to an assemblage of 600 acres of preserved farmland.
Working closely with the family, D&R Greenway developed a three-part strategy to finance the preservation of the land while, at the same time, serving the best interests of the public.Step one was for D&R Greenway to apply, on behalf of the family, to the Somerset County Farmland Preservation Program. Somerset County purchased an agricultural easement on the property for $1,096,699 with grants from three sources: the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee; a federal grant from the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) - administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) - that was contributed by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation; and county preservation funds. As preserved farmland, Maple Lane Farm will continue to provide a hay crop, and continue to contribute to the local agricultural economy.
"The Somerset County Agriculture Development Board and Board of Freeholders have funded the preservation of over 8,000 acres since the inception of the Somerset County Farmland Preservation Program, with the largest portion in Hillsborough Township," said Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, the program's liaison. "We are very happy that we were able to take advantage of federal funding through a partnership with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation for the preservation of the Maple Lane Farm. This farm will be a proud addition to our inventory of preserved farmland in Somerset County."
Step two was for D&R Greenway to purchase the now deed-restricted Maple Lane Farm and farm the land in a manner that will also enhance and sustain grassland bird habitat. A $199,500 Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership (RPWHP) grant from Conservation Resources, Inc. allowed for the acquisition. Conservation Resources Inc. (CRI) is a non-profit organization providing financial and technical services to the conservation community in New Jersey. Funding for the grant was provided to CRI by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
"Maple Lane Farm is one of the priority tracts identified in the RPWHP Grassland Conservation Plan," said Anne Heasly, Vice President of CRI, who also serves as the RPWHP Coordinator. "Preservation of this critical habitat will help ensure that grassland birds will remain a part of the natural heritage of the Central Piedmont area of New Jersey," she explained.
Step three will be for D&R Greenway to showcase Maple Lane Farm as a model for the agricultural and conservation communities. The property will serve as a demonstration site showing how farmland and wildlife management can complement each other.
D&R Greenway's Executive Director Linda Mead observed "Given limited funding resources and a tremendous need to preserve New Jersey's remaining undeveloped lands, projects like Maple Lane Farm are extremely valuable. We see this dynamic in our work in Salem County - where preserving economically-significant farmland also provides protection for an internationally-significant waterfowl habitat known as Mannington Meadows - and on our St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell - where productive farmland and adjacent natural land complement each other. Projects like these are win-win; the preservation of both agricultural and conservation lands doubles the benefit to the community."
Madelyn Bergen Belliveau, the family member who worked with D&R Greenway to save Maple Lane Farm attests, "The family of John Van Dyke and Blanche Mertz Berger are proud that Maple Lane Farm will remain undeveloped. We would like to extend our thanks to Rosemary Blair and special thanks to Bill Rawlyk of D&R Greenway for making this preservation possible."
HOLLYSTONE FARM IN HOPEWELL
The Missing Piece Preserved – 121 Acres in Hopewell Township
Hopewell Township NJ – July 8, 2010: Preserving land can be compared to assembling the pieces of a puzzle. This is especially true of landscape-scale preservation projects that encompass broad ecosystems.
In any region, individual properties are preserved separately, over the course of many years. In order to complete the picture and form contiguous greenways the “missing pieces” need to be identified, preserved and fit together.
On May 25, 2010 a significant piece of the puzzle was fit into place as 121 acres of open fields, woods and stream corridor in Hopewell Township were permanently protected from future development. This property links three magnificent parks – Washington Crossing State Park, Baldpate Mountain and the D&R Canal State Park.
Partnership Makes Preservation Possible
The State Green Acres Program, Mercer County, Hopewell Township, D&R Greenway and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space provided $2.76 million in funding package to acquire this property. Under the preservation agreement 107.8 acres were acquired in fee. The landowners retained 22.9 acres. They placed a conservation easement on 13.4 acres surrounding a 10.5 acre residential envelope, containing a ca.1819 homestead once owned by the Titus family, the founders of Titusville.
D&R Greenway facilitated the project for the funding partners: negotiating with the landowners, structuring the preservation agreement and supervising the technical aspects of the project, obtaining appraisals and surveys.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin commented, "The acquisition of the Hollystone property is a great addition to the Sourland Mountain preservation area and we are pleased to join the many partners who contributed to this effort. Protecting this environmentally sensitive property will enhance recreational opportunities as well as protect wildlife habitat and water resources."
"It also provides a great connection between natural areas, allowing easy access between the Baldpate Mountain trail network and Washington Crossing State Park, which will open up both areas to more people. It's a great project.''
Brian Hughes, Mercer County Executive, shares the enthusiasm for the preservation of this land: “Mercer County is pleased to partner once again with D&R Greenway, Hopewell Township, the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and the New Jersey Green Acres Program in the preservation of 121 acres of land along the Fiddlers Creek stream corridor abutting Baldpate Mountain. This land provides important connections by protecting migratory bird flyway and breeding grounds for grassland birds, and by buffering habitat for exceptionally important wildlife. The addition of this parcel to public ownership will allow residents to make new connections as well, to enjoy the passive recreational opportunities available on the D&R Canal, the Delaware River and at Washington Crossing State Park.”
Significant Natural Resources
The preservation of this property is a conservation bonanza. Its woodlands are part of a 9,500-acre contiguous forest supporting rare and endangered species of plants and wildlife. The long-range plan is to manage the property’s former crop fields with native grasses and wildflowers that will provide habitat for birds and pollinators.
The property directly borders Fiddlers Creek, a tributary of the Delaware River. Its proximity to the Delaware River itself helps protect this important water resource, preventing and absorbing run-off and providing a buffer for flood waters.
According to Patricia P. Sziber, Executive Director, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space,
“We knew this property – a natural and historic gem – had to be preserved and that its preservation could only happen through a partnership. Thankfully, that partnership did come together. We thank the staff at D&R Greenway for facilitating its preservation.”
The newly-preserved land is situated across from the Fiddlers Creek Road entrance to Baldpate Mountain, where Mercer County has established a parking area and information kiosk. New Jersey Trails Association (NJTA) spearheaded the construction of a substantial hiking trail leading from the parking area to the top of Mercer County’s Baldpate Mountain. Trail volunteers spent countless hours moving boulders to create steps up the mountainside with interesting twists and turns. On a clear day, the Philadelphia skyline can be viewed from the top.
NJTA will be working on creating trails on the new land that connect to those that currently exist on the county land.
“As a result of this preservation, people will soon be able to walk from Washington Crossing State Park to Baldpate Mountain,” Linda Mead, D&R Greenway’s Executive Director, commented. “As trails continue to be built though this land and other preserves in the area, this entire region will be accessible. That’s our goal – to preserve lands, and provide the public with access to be able to enjoy them.”
A PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP HAS PRESERVED 340 ACRES IN HOPEWELL, NEW JERSEY
A partnership among municipalities, state government, families, individuals, non profit organizations, community groups, and businesses that together raised over $3.3 million to preserve the St. Michael’s lands is now complete! The St. Michael's preservation project had the greatest number of public and private funding partners of any of our acquisitions. We deeply appreciate the leadership and tireless efforts of the members of the St. Michael’s Preservation Committee.
St. Michaels Public Vision Summary
D&R Greenway Land Trust has solicited and received numerous ideas from Hopewell Township and Hopewell Borough residents about the future use of St. Michaels Farm Preserve since the property was purchased. Two formal public outreach sessions were held to share D&R Greenway’s vision for the future of the property and to invite public input. The first forum was at the Community Celebration held on the property on June 12, 2010; the second was a formal presentation to the public at the Johnson Education Center on June 24, 2010.
Comments included- implementing strategies to transition to organic soils and farming; ways to implement our invasive plant species eradication efforts while not disrupting breeding birds; comments on livestock stocking rates in pastures to protect stream water quality; and creating a ‘Children’s Garden’ to honor the many children that lived in St. Michaels Orphanage.
Other ideas expressed included the need to provide for a variety of trail uses including hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling when appropriate; developing safe pedestrian access from Hopewell Borough; creating an opportunity for ‘incubator’ farming to help develop the next generation of NJ farmers; consideration for developing community gardens to reconnect community with the soils; and enhancement of habitat for pollinators and species of conservation concern that might call the property home.
D&R Greenway will use these public comments as we consider implementing the vision plan. Anyone wishing to see the full range of comments submitted should contact Jay Watson directly at 609.924.4646, ext. 130.
50-Acre Family Homestead and Farm in Monmouth County
- 30 acres of farmland will remain in agriculture and farmed by the Fatigati family
- 18 acres of woods and stream are protected and will be owned and managed by Upper Freehold Township
- Historic home, garden and barn are preserved on two acres parcel surrounded by farmland and woods
- Fulfillment of a family's dream to preserve their land
- Good example of a successful partnership with Open Space and Farmland Preservation, combined with state, county and municipal funding partners, facilitated by D&R Greenway Land Trust
- Funding Partners for the preservation of the farm are: Monmouth County Agriculture Development Board, Upper Freehold Township, and State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC)
- Funding Partners for the preservation of the woodlands and stream corridor are: Upper Freehold municipal funding and NJ Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program through a Green Acres Municipal Planning Incentive Grant to Upper Freehold Township.
Two Historic Farms Preserved in Salem County
A Partnership with State Agriculture Development Committee and Federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program Adds an Additional 322 Acres of Preserved Farms
Learn more about special events and festivals in the area: Visit Salem County, New Jersey
Meadow Tree Farm
Meadow Tree Farm lies at the foothills of the Sourland Mountain range. The property extends the buffer protecting the Stony Brook and adds to the Stony Brook Greenway.
The farm's owners, Tim and Sandra Perkins continue to own the farm with the conservation easement. The farm had been owned by Sandra Perkins’s mother since the 1960s; however, over the years both the land and the family home had become rundown and neglected. According to Sandy and Tim, the property was so overgrown, they didn’t even realize it stood upon a small hill. A substantial investment was required to restore the land to a healthy and productive state and renovate the house, so that Sandy and Tim could make the family farm their home.
D&R Greenway worked with Sandra and Tim to customize a preservation solution that would provide the funds to allow Meadow Tree Farm to remain in the Perkins family. This included placing a conservation easement on their property, which will provide significant financial and tax advantages in exchange for retiring the land’s development rights and protecting its natural resources. In addition, the Perkins are combining active farming with wildlife habitat restoration. By participating in a Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), the Perkins will receive ongoing compensation for cultivating fields of native grasses that provide habitat essential to sustain threatened and endangered species of birds.
Meadow Tree Farm lies in the migratory path of hundreds of species of neo-tropical birds who stopover or breed in the Sourlands. “During the spring and fall migrations our meadows and woodlands are covered with birds,” commented Tim Perkins, “and since we planted native grasses a year ago we have seen a marked increase in the number of birds feeding here. The open fields and native plants offer a hospitable environment. The migratory birds are able to observe this landscape as they fly overhead and swoop down to take advantage of it.”
After the spring nesting season the Perkins are able to harvest their native grasslands, generating a cash crop of hay, as well as fodder for their two horses.
The preservation of Meadow Tree Farm offers a replicable model for other “gentleman farmers” throughout central New Jersey. Its structure provides multiple benefits – for the landowner, the community and the natural world. The Perkins receive a financial benefit for preserving their land as permanent open space and for cultivating and maintaining grassland bird habitat. The community benefits from the safeguarding of land, wildlife and the rural heritage of the Princeton- Hopewell-Lawrenceville area. Because Sandra and Tim Perkins also designated 15 easily accessible acres of their farm for use as a public trail network, the community also gains a beautiful natural area to walk and hike through.
According to Linda Mead, “The preservation of Meadow Tree Farm is a perfect example of the kind of “win-win” solution D&R Greenway strives for each and every time we approach a project. This is the best possible outcome – family property remaining in family ownership and the public enjoying the many benefits of protected natural lands. Sandra and Tim Perkins have established a permanent legacy that will strengthen the community in which they live.”
Seabrook Farms Preserved in Salem County
A timely phone call from a D&R Greenway supporter to longtime family friend Jack Seabrook set the stage for one of D&R Greenway’s most significant preservation
projects ever—the permanent protection of Seabrook Farms in Mannington Township, Salem County, New Jersey. The agreement was announced during a press conference at Seabrook Farms in November, 2008. D&R Greenway served as an advisor to the Seabrook family during the process and helped structure a preservation solution through a cooperative effort among four public entities: the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green
Acres Program, Salem County and Mannington Township. As a result, the SADC will purchase the development rights on approximately 1,770 acres of farmland and the DEP Green Acres.
Speiden & Hoebel
Facilitation & Conservation Easement
Two important steps taken together have resulted in a leap forward in preservation of the historic landscape along the Delaware & Raritan Canal in Griggstown. Neighbors Cindy and Bart Hoebel and Dr. Lois Speiden committed their adjacent properties to permanent preservation with D&R Greenway Land Trust. These preserved lands have become key links in the creation of a greenway along Bedens Brook, which flows from the Sourland Mountain to the Millstone River , passing through the 200-acre Ingersoll-Rand preserve.
The two adjoining historic farms preserve 130 acres of woodlands and fields that border the Canal between Griggstown and Rocky Hill. The history of the farms traces back to early Dutch settlers, to travels of Washington 's Revolutionary Army through the valley, and to an early twentieth century terra cotta factory that used the Hoebel boardinghouse for its workers.
Bart and Cindy Hoebel purchased their 45-acre "Little Valley Farm" 25 years ago as a real estate investment, renting the old boardinghouse and planting a crop of 3000 seedling pines to help pay the mortgage. Over the years Bart says he fell in love with the beauty and history of the old place and wanted to preserve it. The Hoebels entered into a bargain sale with D&R Greenway Land Trust to preserve the land through conservation and agricultural easements. Bart and Cindy retain ownership of their property and continue to receive income from agricultural uses while preserving 90% of their land as open space. Bart pointed out with delight, "This is a very different and far better investment than I ever imagined. [D&R Greenway Land Trust] supporters and New Jersey taxpayers can be proud of contributing to a beautiful recreational area, avian flyway, wildlife sanctuary, waterway and a heritage corridor in the midst of a densely populated area."
In 2007, Bart Hoebel sold the farm to the Smith family. D&R Greenway is working with the new owners to create trails that connect the preserved lands and respect the pastures and farm fields. These trails connect to the canal towpath at the Little Valley bridge.
Neighboring property owner Dr. Lois Speiden and her family grew organic vegetables and blueberries on her 85-acre farm, selling their harvests at the Whole Earth Center of Princeton. It was a long-term dream of Lois Speiden to own a farm, and she wanted to ensure it would stay a farm forever. She sold her property to D&R Greenway Land Trust through a bargain sale that provided her with a tax deduction, a cash sale, and the satisfaction of leaving a family legacy of preserved open space.
D&R Greenway Land Trust partnered with Franklin Township , Somerset County Parks and the New Jersey Green Acres Program to preserve these lands. Somerset County and Franklin Township look forward to a continued partnership with D&R Greenway Land Trust.
Tom Boccino of Somerset County Parks is enthusiastic about new opportunities. "It was actually D&R Greenway Land Trust that brought these [Hoebel and Speiden] properties to our attention. It was a really great starting point for the county in Franklin Township . It opened a lot of doors to partnering and we've come a long way in establishing a presence in that area. We are now working with the township's Open Space Advisory Committee and exchanging information. It's been a totally positive experience working with D&R Greenway Land Trust. We hope to keep on working with them."
D&R Greenway Land Trust is grateful to Bart and Cindy Hoebel and their family and to Dr. Lois Speiden for their joint commitment to preserve these lands that will benefit generations to come. When neighbors join together to protect their lands, they can make a lasting impact by increasing the conservation benefit and preserving the quality of life in their community. It is indeed true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Acquisition & Conservation Easement
A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. - Ecclesiastes 1:4
Walter Fullam loved the quiet beauty and serenity of his rural Hopewell property, Cedar Ridge, and wanted to share it with others. When his sons were young, he shared the land with Boy Scouts who enjoyed nature hikes and camping trips at Cedar Ridge. When it came time to decide the future of his land, Walter placed his trust in D&R Greenway Land Trust.
Walter began his conservation journey years before, when he placed a conservation easement on family lands he owned in Massachusetts. Working with The Trustees of Reservations, the oldest land trust in the country, Walter was a pioneer in land conservation long before others took up the cause. In 1991, Walter Fullam made a commitment to preserve his 80 acres on Van Dyke Road in Hopewell with D&R Greenway Land Trust.
The preservation of Cedar Ridge ensures that the land will never be developed. In a further act of generosity, Walter invited the public to experience the land by giving the public access to trails that he helped to clear and maintain over the years. Walter shared his stewardship philosophy for nature, "It's important to preserve the land we love. I feel peace and calm when I walk the fields and woods among birds and wildflowers."
The entire preserve is part of the 21-mile Stony Brook Greenway which will one day link protected lands from the brook's headwaters on the Sourland Mountain to the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park in Princeton. Today, the Cedar Ridge Trail winds through 30 acres of the Fullam property, offering visitors a walk through protected meadows and woodlands abundant with wildlife. Numerous native wildflowers grow in the meadows, and bluebirds can be found nesting in the boxes placed on the property by Walter. Hikers can follow the trail along the spring-fed Stony Brook where may fly and stone fly nymphs are thriving, indicating clean water. Beyond the meadows stands a majestic oak-hickory forest and a thick stand of cedar, a unique habitat favored by long-eared owls, Cooper's hawks and prairie warblers. A small parking area can be accessed along Van Dyke Road, where a colorful kiosk welcomes visitors to the trail.
When Walter passed away, he left a legacy of conservation by ensuring that the place he cared for so deeply would remain forever wild. He also passed his philosophy of stewardship on to his family. His wife Dorothy and sons Francis, W. Ross, and Caleb carry on with the values that Walter espoused. All of us at D&R Greenway Land Trust are grateful for Walter's foresight. As his son Francis explained, "My father understood that the land could restore us and bring us together as a community."
STEWARDSHIP PROFILE: Cedar Ridge Preserve
A walk through Cedar Ridge will take you along thickety hedgerows, old fields teeming with wildflowers and native grasses, and into the shady alcoves of a Christmas tree farm gone feral. Cedar Ridge is a preserve in which to enjoy the rebirth of the wild landscape. Follow the newest trail to its terminus, however, and you will emerge in a relict patch of ancient forest along the Stony Brook.
As stewards of Cedar Ridge, we are guiding the evolving landscape towards several habitat types, each containing diverse communities of native plants—communities which are beautiful, intricate, cooperative, and supportive of a broad array of wildlife.
A young landscape like that at Cedar Ridge presents unique challenges. Abandoned farm fields start their return to wilderness as something of a blank slate. They contain little in the way of a seedbank for native plants, and none of the rhizomes, corms, tubers, and bulbs which characterize many of our native herbaceous species.
Exotic invasive species establish themselves with ease in the soils of an old farm field. An overpopulation of deer tilts the odds in favor of exotic colonizers as the deer chew to stubs their traditional food sources—native shrubs, trees and flowers.
In 2006, D&R Greenway received a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) grant to remove invasive exotic plants, plant native tree and shrub saplings, and create vernal ponds. As we complete the implementation of the grant, the preserve is metamorphosing from a feral landscape to a botanical and avian sanctuary.
We've concentrated our stewardship efforts on enhancing two habitat types at Cedar Ridge: native shrubland and native meadow.
From Overgrown Hedge to Native Shrubland
When we began stewardship at Cedar Ridge, thick brambles girded the four old fields. Primary components of these hedges were the invasive thornbushes multiflora rose and Japanese barberry, the strangling vines oriental bittersweet and Japanese honeysuckle, and the autumn olive, a small but aggressive Eurasian tree.
Using tools ranging from handsaws and loppers to tactically operated brush hogs (skillfully driven by volunteer stewards Robert Baron and Tom Ebeling) we removed invasive plants while safeguarding natives. From the outset, an interesting irony was revealed—deep within the thorny invasive hedges were native shrubs, protected from deer by the walls of unappetizing and painful invasives.
A walk taken along the previously impassable stream corridor to the left of the (soon to be installed) parking area now winds through a diverse collection of native shrubs—spicebush, blackhaw viburnum, wild hazelnut, three different species of dogwood, and native wild roses—all newly liberated from the competition of invasives. Upcoming seasons should be spectacular for native flowers and fruits.
In thinning Cedar Ridge's encroaching hedges we've also created more space for Cedar Ridge's beautiful meadows. Dominated by native grasses like little bluestem and Indian grass, and wildflowers like foxglove beard tongue , mountain mint, and New England aster, the meadows are maintained in this habitat type by mowing at the end of the growing season.
We invite you to enjoy the fruits of the stewardship which has transformed Cedar Ridge into a preserve of wide vistas and thriving native plant communities—a sanctuary for wildlife and humans alike. Follow the new trail heading towards the far northern corner, for in the small patch of ancient forest along the brook, a truly magnificent white oak resides, which has seen it all, from the days of the first clearing of the old-growth forest two hundred years ago to the stewardship of the reborn wild landscape. For directions to Cedar Ridge, visit New Jersey Trails Association for a trail guide and map.
Jared Rosenbaum, 1/28/09
Rawlyk Family Farm Preserved
excerpts from Greenways - Winter 2006, Newsletter
When the Rawlyk Family Farm was preserved in 2006, it marked the 80th year that the family has owned the 50-acre Hunterdon County property and the fourth generation of Rawlyks to operate the land as a working farm. The land was first farmed in the 1920’s by Bill Rawlyk's grandparents, then by his family.
Bill's grandparents emigrated as teenagers from the Ukraine through Ellis Island to New York City just before the First World War. They worked for many years to save up money to buy the land in 1926 for $6,600.
The Rawlyk family’s connection to the land runs very deep. Bill's father, Stephen really did walk through blizzards to a one room school house about one mile from the farm (it’s still there). He owned an airplane and had an airstrip on the property in the 1940’s. Bill's mom moved from the nearby town to the farm when my parents married in 1950. She raised my sister and me while doing more than her share of the farm work and bringing in extra income from another job, as many farm families do.
It was from these experiences – playing as a kid in the woods and fields, seeing the broad horizon from the seat of a tractor, harvesting corn in the fall, watching the sunsets, the fireflies, the changing seasons and the wildlife – that the land truly became part of the Rawlyk Family. This history is built on 80 years of keeping and caring for farm dogs and cats, cows and horses, from tractors stuck in the mud and neighbors working together and helping each other out during the Great Depression. These shared memories bonded Bill and his sister, Brenda to their land and family’s farming heritage.
Over the years, our family’s farming practices had to change to meet the needs of a changing economy. After WWII, the farm was converted from orchards and dairies to grain and large-scale egg production. In the late 1970’s they began growing sod to supply landscaping needs of New Jersey’s rapidly expanding development market. Adapting to these evolving conditions required a large investment of resources. During that time, part of the original 118 acres were subdivided and sold to support the expenses of ongoing farming. The family continued to work hard to maintain their rural lifestyle and to keep the remainder of the farm.
Seeing the property cut in half in order to fund their survival as a farm family made Bill question how this might have been done better. He spent years searching for another way, one that would preserve both the family and the farm. In working with D&R Greenway Land Trust, the family found a solution first-hand.
Our Family’s Pathway to Preservation
The entire family had to be brought together to decide the fate of the land. Bill's parents both wanted to ensure the future of the family and the farm. They also had strong ties to the community and wanted their neighbors to benefit from the preservation of the land.
Because of Bill's position at D&R Greenway Land Trust, he could not work through D&R Greenway to preserve his land. Instead, the Rawlyk's worked independently with the New Jersey Green Acres Program. The State is assembling a Greenway of preserved lands along the entire Lockatong Creek. The farm’s location in the headwaters made the property desirable for acquisition.
Ultimately the Rawlyk's decided on a sale of most of the farm to the State at a bargain sale price. The Rawlyk family accepted about 25% less than full market value for their land. The contribution that they made to the preservation of the property through a reduction in price qualifies as a tax deductible donation. The result is that they pay less in taxes and realize a better net return than they would have from a traditional development sale.
Next Steps: Perpetual Stewardship of the Land
The family was keenly interested in particular interest was in seeing their land managed to enhance wildlife habitat, and to protect endangered species and migratory birds. These goals are consistent with the State’s goals; however, the State does not have sufficient staff resources for this type of active management and looks for experienced, dependable partners. After the acquisition details were complete, the next step was for the family, in consultation with the State, to identify a nonprofit organization to enter into a stewardship partnership with the State through a Management Agreement.
The Rawlyk family trusted D&R Greenway Land Trust to take on this responsibility. D&R Greenway is well established and has skilled staff that can manage the property’s sensitive resources. D&R Greenway had a proven track record of over 223 preserved properties and significant land holdings under active stewardship. The Management Plan that was developed includes a Natural Resources Inventory and identifies long term goals of ecological habitat management, hunting for the purpose of protecting biodiversity, education in effective stewardship practices and public access trails that will allow people to enjoy the natural beauty of this land.
The family was willing to make a donation of $25,000 to D&R Greenway’s Stewardship Endowment to ensure that the land would be properly cared for in perpetuity. Too often sensitive lands are preserved with no plan or endowment and the very things that everyone sought to preserve can’t be maintained and are therefore lost. This endowment was an indispensable investment to ensure the proper care of the property.
The Real Value of this Partnership
Successfully completed preservation projects are a well crafted balance between the benefits to the landowner and the public.
On the Rawlyk family’s farm, the balance was completely achieved. When they sold the farm, they realized a total return – taking into consideration purchase price, tax benefits, and time value of dollars - similar to that which a developer would have given them and they got it faster and with fewer up front costs. Equally important, they can all still enjoy the land in its current condition, along with the rest of the public. With a developer it would be off limits to everyone but a few homeowners.
The final preservation solution ensures that wildlife habitat will be enriched. The entire community will benefit from enhanced recreation and education opportunities as well as the protection of the forest and the water quality in the Lockatong Creek.