News Department

Yards Creek preserve builds climate resilience in the Delaware River watershed

BLAIRSTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (Warren County) — The Land Conservancy of New Jersey (TLCNJ) in December 2021 expanded their Yards Creek Preserve in Blairstown Township, further protecting the Delaware River watershed’s forest and water resources. This new parcel of land with a scenic overlook brings the organization’s newest nature preserve to a grand total of 286 acres.

Yards Creek Preserve is near the Appalachian Trail and adjacent to more than 76,000 acres of public land in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The goal is for the preserve to act as a carbon sink using native vegetation, mature forests of oak and hickory, and healthy soils. Conservation of this ecologically sensitive land is creating a resilient ecosystem that will better adapt to climate change while supporting diverse populations of native plants and animals. Slowly but surely, The Land Conservancy’s efforts are connecting significant amounts of green forested habitat along the slopes of the Kitatinny Ridge to enable the movement of wildlife without interference by human activity.

This forward-thinking project helps local people, too, by providing resource-based recreation opportunities, especially for people who live nearby and can now walk off-road through a forest in their leisure time. Yards Creek Preserve was established in 2019 as an ambitious conservation project that will help protect drinking water for millions of the region’s inhabitants and curb encroaching development. TLCNJ has identified over 1,000 acres of particularly vulnerable and richly diverse land to preserve in the Delaware River Basin, one of the most important watersheds on the East Coast. Fifteen million people rely on the basin for clean drinking water—including the cities of Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City.

Sandy Urgo, Vice President of Land Preservation said, “It is a pleasure to work on land preservation in Blairstown, where residents, leaders and landowners all seem to have a conservation ethic. Since its inception, Yards Creek Preserve has been warmly welcomed by our many neighbors. We especially appreciate Wes Jones working with us to preserve his land and add it to the preserve, as well as the generous contributions from all of our funders. This land sits high in the landscape, it is a lovely forest with many beautiful mature hickories and other tree species and is very worthy of protection.”

“I am glad my land on Four Corners Road will always be available for all to enjoy. It was a pleasure working with Sandy from Land Conservancy of New Jersey to preserve my property. Just as my parents, John and Stella, and Uncle Walter Jones sold their Lambert Road parcel to become Sycamore Park to be enjoyed for future generations. Let’s all work together to keep Blairstown and surrounding communities green. And support your local Farmer,” Landowner Wes Jones said.

The Open Space Institute funded the preservation of this property through both its Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund and its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund.

The Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund is a first-of-its-kind fund launched in 2021 to respond to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and to support more equitable approaches to land conservation. Capitalized by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, OSI’s Fund focuses on protection of forests along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, home of the world’s largest broadleaf forest. This region plays an irreplaceable role in storing the nation’s forest carbon and providing essential climate refuge for plants and animals.

The Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund—made possible by the William Penn Foundation—seeks to harness land protection to ensure abundant, clean water within the 13,000 square mile drainage of the Delaware River. Fifteen million people rely on the watershed for drinking water including residents of the cities of Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City.

Lying on the flank of the Kittatinny Ridge, the newly protected property contains forests that filter drinking water and stores forest carbon in its mature, intact woodlands.

“The successful conservation of this property for the Yards Creek Preserve is a resounding forestland victory for climate and clean water,” said Bill Rawlyk, OSI’s Mid-Atlantic Field Coordinator. “OSI applauds The Land Conservancy of New Jersey for its tireless efforts to achieve the protection of this critical property.”

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is a member-supported, nonprofit, accredited land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting natural land and water resources throughout the state in order to build environmental resilience and fight the climate crisis. Originally founded as an all-volunteer group in 1981, the organization has protected 28,000 acres of open space by working with 100 municipalities in 13 counties and continues to be recognized for meeting the highest standards for protecting open space, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that their conservation efforts are permanent.

For more information about the work of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, visit their website or call 973-541-1010.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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