JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – The Trust for Public Land, Morris County Open Space Preservation Trust Fund, and Morris County Park Commission Tuesday announced the acquisition of an 96 acre property from an investment company has been permanently protected as an addition to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, Morris County’s largest and one of its most popular parks.
The size and remoteness of the park make it a popular destination for mountain bikers, hikers and campers whether tent or RV. New trail construction in the “Snow Bowl Area” of the existing park land will directly connect to the property that has been protected. The property also protects scenic views from the Headley Overlook (accessible from the Highlands Trail), a 1,280 foot elevation view point at one of the highest points in Morris County.
“This acquisition closed a gap between parkland parcels and would not have come to fruition without the commitment of our partners at The Trust for Public ” said David Helmer Executive Director of MCPC.
This newly protected property will provide increased access to open space, as the previously privately-owned site was closed to the public. The property was transferred directly to the Morris County Park Commission on December 31, 2020 and is now open for visitors to enjoy.
The property on Bowling Green Mountain has been a priority for conservation for many years as identified by the Highlands Council. The property is almost entirely uplands with steep slopes that provide potential habitat for numerous species of concern, including Indiana bat, bobcat, and red-shouldered hawk.
“This newly protected property will be a haven for residents and visitors to Morris County alike. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have seen people seeking solace in the outdoors, and this new addition to the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation will give even more people the opportunity to hike, bike, and camp. We are so excited to have helped preserve another great Highlands resource for the community in Morris County,” said Greg Socha, Senior Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land.
Funding for the $575,000 purchase was provided by the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program.
The property is more than 96 acres of forest over steep, rocky slopes adjacent to and nearly surrounded by existing Morris County park land making the property important for watershed protection in the Highlands. The property drains directly to Russia Brook and the Rockaway River, both local source water supplies.
Morris County Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo, liaison to the Park Commission said, “Adding 96 acres of steep, forested landscape to the 3,500 forested acres of Mahlon Dickerson Reservation provides much more than expanded recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors alike. It also increases the amount of contiguous, protected open space that is so crucial to protecting the rare and common wildlife species found in that corner of our state, as well as our water. We are grateful to the partnership that made this happen.”