OCEAN COUNTY – Ocean County may be adding more land through its natural lands trust fund.
The Ocean County Freeholders approved the purchase of two properties—one in Jackson, the other in Plumsted—at its March 21 regular meeting. The townships need to support those respective acquisitions prior to the county closing on the properties.
The county plans to purchase 71.31 acres in Jackson. The property has frontage along Wilson Avenue in the township. It’s adjacent to the 1,172-acre Roanoke and Makor tract the county acquired in 2012 and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Forest Resource Education Center 495 Don Connor Blvd.
The property would expand upon a 3,000-acre greenway corridor that includes county natural lands and parks and NJDEP holdings in the township. The state Forest Fire Service has chimed in to add that the land will provide “critical access” for wildfire protection.
The county will purchase the land for $260,000. The county can seek a cost share for up to 50 percent from the U.S. Department of Defense “as it fits into the county’s agreement with the DOD to reduce encroachment around Joint Base – McGuire, Dix, Lakehurst,” county officials said.
In addition, the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee recommended the acquisition of a 137-acre property in Plumsted Township. The property consists of four large tracts on the north and south side of Route 528. The property borders six preserved farms and is close to other trust properties and Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson. It will cost $400,000 through the trust fund.
“These tracts include the former Superfund sites known as the Spence Farm and Pijak Farm. Both properties were delisted in 1997 by the Environmental Protection Agency and are cleared for regular development,” county spokeswoman Donna Flynn said. “Plumsted Township fully supports the acquisition of these tracts for open space. The county will do an environmental assessment on the property to confirm the property is clear of any environmental liability.”
There are about 2,200 acres the county has acquired in Plumsted, much of it as preserved farmland. The Spence and Pijak acquisitions will be deed restricted.
The Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee suggested these areas for acquisition. The committee receives nominations and after vetting them, forwards those to the Freeholders.
The fund was approved by Ocean County voters to fund acquisitions to preserve natural lands, open spaces and farmland.
Ocean County has 408,000 acres of land and almost 60 percent has been permanently preserved from development through local, county, state and federal preservation programs.