MANSFIELD, NJ (Warren County) – Demolition to dismantle decade-old structures at the historic Rockport pheasant farm has already started in Mansfield Township.
Mansfield Township Committee Member , Ron Hayes, and his family were able to use heavy machinery, donated by Harrington construction, to take down the farm house and barn. The structures have been a staple part of the 492-acre game farm since the early 1960’s.
Hayes tells RNJ that his father in law, Jim Ackerman, ran the pheasant farm for decades. “After Jim retired, it was always known that the house was going to come down. So, for years it sat vacant, and once I became a part of the township committee, I started making phone calls,” says Hayes. He also explains how the project was able to give his family closure. “I pushed the state to let me help get the house down. I mean it was emotional. You drove by and you could see the siding was falling apart and it made the house look like somewhat of a mess.”
Hayes also reports witnessing the last stock of pheasants being removed from the farm, as he continued his task of leveling the home and barn. “It’s the end of an era, if you want to call it that. The pheasant farm used to be a destination families would visit. Grade schools did tours at the farm. Rockport was born as a stop on the Morris Canal. There’s a lot of history there, and some potential tourism lost,” explains Hayes
As for the legacy of the Rockport Pheasant Farm, Hayes says he is working with the Morris Canal Society to put up a kiosk explaining the Rockport area, the historic train wreck site, and of course the pheasant farm.
According to New Jersey Fish and Wildlife’s website, the initial decision to close the Rockport Pheasant Farm stems from recent changes in quarantine requirements by the USDA National Poultry Improvement Plan in response to avian influenza. Keeping Rockport Pheasant Farm operational would require costly measures that the division says they, “simply cannot afford.”
The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s website also explains the financial backing for the pheasant program. No state tax dollars are reportedly used for the program. The cost comes from the Hunter and Angler Fund, which is comprised of revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and permits.
The state is now considering ideas or suggestions for the site. The topic will be discussed at the next Mansfield Township Council meeting on Wednesday, January 9th at 7:30 p.m. New Jersey Fish and Wildlife representatives are expected to be present at the meeting.
Article Published by: Katie Moriarty