County Adds 8K Acres To Preserved Open Space

Gully at Forked River Mountain. (Photo courtesy Pinelands Preservation Alliance)
Gully at Forked River Mountain. (Photo courtesy Pinelands Preservation Alliance)

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County closed on its largest open space purchase in history this week.

“I am pleased to announce that we closed this week on the purchase of the almost 8,000 acre tract in Lacey and Ocean Townships that is home of the Forked River Mountains,” Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund, said. “This is not only our largest tract to acquire under this program but also one of the most environmentally sensitive purchases we have made under our open space program.”

The purchase was approved in September by the Ocean County Freeholders on the recommendation of the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee.

“This environmental gem will now be preserved in its natural state forever,” Haines said.

The tract, comprising 7,923 acres and straddles Lacey and Ocean townships, was purchased for $15.45 million, paid for out of revenues from the county’s open space tax.

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Castleton Associates LLC, formerly the Brunetti Corporation of Old Bridge Township, sold the land to the county.