Saturday, July 4, 2020

D&R Greenway adds 58 preserved acres today to Plum Brook Preserve near Stockton

Plum Brook Preserve

D&R Greenway Land Trust announces the addition of 58 forested acres to its Plum Brook Preserve in Delaware Township, Hunterdon County. Located at 190 Locktown/Sergeantsville Road, near Stockton, the reach of Plum Brook Preserve has now expanded to 311 acres. The site includes five permanently preserved neighboring parcels, including the Beagle Club property.

This successful acquisition involves the partnership of significant regional partners. Purchase was accomplished through Delaware Township with support from NJ Green Acres funds, and with support from a Hunterdon County nonprofit grant. Township Mayor Charlie Herman declares, “The Delaware Township Committee is very excited about this latest addition to the Plum Brook Preserve.  We appreciate the collaborative efforts of everyone involved, including the Cisek Family and D&R Greenway Land Trust.  Partnerships like these are essential in preserving our valuable open spaces.  The Township Committee is committed to the conservation and maintenance of the beautiful rural character of Delaware Township so that all residents and visitors can enjoy the beauty of this community for generations to come.”

D&R Greenway recently benefited from a land-preservation bequest from former trustee Eugene Gladston, who lived in Bucks County, PA with his wife Wendy. This 23-year supporter and dedicated birder passed away in February of 2020. A portion of his timely bequest enabled this 58-acre crucial addition to be finalized on June 30, a fitting culmination to New Jersey Open Space Month. D&R Greenway’s Revolving Land Fund will be reimbursed after closing, so that the Gladston bequest will continue to support new preservation of Garden State land.

The 58 acre-property belonged to the Joseph Cisek family, whose widow, Joan, sold their bucolic land for permanent protection, at a price that included a partial donation of value. Daughter Patricia Kulita talks about the family’s enthusiasm, “This is exactly what Dad would have wanted. He loved nature, and I am sure he is smiling down. Dad is happy, Mom is happy and we (the family) are all happy. These are fifty-eight acres that will not be developed. It will stay as it is now, forever.” The announcement of this pending preserve was a key feature at D&R Greenway’s virtual Spring Celebration, where D&R Greenway supporters heard the latest news and celebrated the nonprofit’s mission to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic.

Linda Mead, gratified that the acquisition of these beautiful 58 acres has now come to fruition, discusses its relevance, “I cannot think of a better way to close out New Jersey Open Space Month than by adding nearly sixty acres to our almost 21,000 acres of green open spaces. We are now only one acquisition away from our next milestone goal.” She praised the funding partners, “Our public partners worked diligently from home during this COVID pandemic, ensuring success in a time when residents are appreciating the great outdoors more than ever. Our good friend, Gene Gladston, expert birder that he was, believed that the most important freedom we can exercise is to preserve the only planet we inhabit. There are so many wonderful people and stories to celebrate along with this actual closing on the former Cisek land.”

Agriculturally, the property dates back to the latter 1700's. Farm fields and pastures, as well as wood lots, stretched to the boundaries, into the early 1900’s, when farming and pasturing were discontinued. A natural conversion to woodlands took place, which has remained. The foresighted Joseph Cisek purchased these 58 acres in 1951. Soon thereafter, he began working with state and local foresters to ensure the healthiest management of his woodlands.

Danielle Dobisch, D&R Greenway Director of Land Preservation, worked closely with Cisek daughter Patty Kulita to finalize the acquisition. She reveals that “Walking the Cisek land brings you back in time. There are stone house ruins, probably from the 1800's. A strong sense of true Garden State history is apparent in the stonewalls that were built generations past when the land was farmed.”

The former Cisek property’s wooded habitat, particularly its old-growth sections, supports crucial birdlife, including species identified by the NJDEP as “Species and Communities of Management Concern” within the Garden State. Among the property’s significant birds are hairy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker and red-bellied woodpecker. Carolina wren, tufted titmouse, and white-breasted nuthatch thrive here. Its healthy woodlands include deciduous upland and wetland forest with red, white and pin oak, eastern red cedar, tulip poplar, red maple, American beech and the distinctive shagbark hickory. Shrubs include viburnum, hop-hornbeam and ironwood.

Patty Kulita talks of her parent’s love of the land, “You can't help but be in awe of nature when you look around and see the big open sky and the variety of trees, plants, birds and animals.  The property has always brought a sense of peace. The family thanks D&R Greenway for promising to uphold the tradition to respect and protect the land that meant so much to Dad. It will continue to be a beautiful place with many more people creating their own happy memories.”

D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, thus reaches a new milestone of 21,058 acres of land preserved since 1989. By preserving land for life and creating public trails, it gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and community gardens provide local organic food for our neighbors—including those most in need. Through strategic land conservation and stewardship, it combats climate change, protect birds and wildlife, and ensure clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton is home to art galleries and presentations that celebrate the natural world and inspire a conservation ethic. D&R Greenway's mission is centered in connecting land with people from all walks of life.

D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton NJ 08540 609.924.4646 is currently closed due to COVID-19. Visit www.drgeenway.org to learn more.