(METUCHEN, NJ) -- Middlesex County has announced its intention to acquire 18.7 acres of land in Metuchen to later become part of the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve. In addition to the 18.7 acres being acquired from the Metuchen Realty Association, the County will enter into a conservation management agreement with the Borough of Metuchen to manage an additional 12 acres of open space located adjacent to the newly purchased land which will provide the opportunity for possible future acquisitions.
The announcement was made during a press conference on Wednesday, December 22 at the site. Sharing the significance and long-term plans involving the intent to purchase the land , speakers included Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios, County Commissioner Charles E. Tomaro, and Borough of Metuchen Mayor Jonathan M. Busch.
“On behalf of the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners, I want to express my gratitude to our partners in Metuchen both for their vision and for all of their hard work that helped make this acquisition a reality,” said Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios. “This land will ultimately become part of the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve -- formerly known as the Dismal Swamp – and will serve as a gateway to this unique area of Middlesex County. The strong working relationship between the County and the Borough helps to make projects like this possible – and successful.”
“Open space is a priority here in Middlesex County and the acquisition of these 18.7 acres align with our Destination 2040 Open Space and Recreation Plan. Ultimately, we envision this space as not only an area dedicated to the preservation of this important ecosystem and wildlife, but an excellent place for members of the public to enjoy passive forms of recreation such as birding, photography, walking, and simply taking in the natural wonders of the Dismal Swamp,” said County Commissioner Charles E. Tomaro. “Together in partnership with the Borough of Metuchen, we will ensure that this area of the Dismal Brook Preserve is a space that can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
“This land the County intents to acquire is a vital wetland ecosystem that is home to a number of wildlife species, including an estimated 165 different species of birds. On behalf of all the residents in Metuchen, I would like to thank the County for their help in protecting this land for all those creatures – and our community,” said Mayor Jonathan M. Busch, Borough of Metuchen. “This purchase is made possible thanks to the impressive environmental cleanup effort undertaken by Metuchen Realty Association. In addition to Middlesex County’s intends to acquire the 18.7 acres that include part of the Dismal Swamp, the County will also enter into a conservation management agreement with the Borough to manage an additional 12 acres of open space which will add to the overall scope of the project and provide for possible future acquisitions.”
This new addition to the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve will provide many benefits of open space including the preservation of essential habitats for plants and wildlife, the capture and storage of rainfall, and the protection of underground water sources.
Among the planned improvements for public access are trails, boardwalks, a footbridge, interpretive signage, and convenient parking for visitors.
Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 19 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 832,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities. Ranked #1 in the state for best schools, the County offers an award-winning vocational school system, a county college, and workforce development creating a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century.