Friday, April 12, 2024

Ridge and Valley Conservancy Expands Blair Creek Preserve 

HARDWICK, N.J. — This past winter, Ridge and Valley Conservancy (RVC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) closed on the purchase of 10 tree-covered acres, expanding Blair Creek Preserve in Hardwick. The property is part of a large contiguous forest that ranks highest on the state’s list of critical ecosystems to protect based on water quality, rare species habitat, connectivity and climate resilience. 

Blair Creek Preserve sits within “Bobcat Alley,” a project spearheaded by TNC to connect and protect habitat for state-endangered bobcats and other wildlife living in and migrating through the Appalachian mountain range in New Jersey. Ridge and Valley Conservancy is a critically strategic partner in the effort. Many species thrive in the large, intact forests of the region: neotropical migrating birds use them as breeding grounds, amphibians and reptiles find safe spawning habitat in their vernal pools, and bats raise young under the loose bark of their shagbark hickories. 

“It’s so rewarding to know that these 10 important acres will continue to exist undeveloped in their pristine condition for the survival of endangered species. Every acre matters in this unbroken forest corridor that contributes to our region’s resiliency in the face of climate change,” said Susi Tilley, executive director of Ridge and Valley Conservancy.    

Blair Creek Preserve is made up of two adjoining properties – Blair Creek South, which grew to 40 acres with the addition of the recent purchase, and the 515-acre original Blair Creek Preserve, which is co-owned by Ridge and Valley Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and the New Jersey Natural Land Trusts. Visitors are welcome at the preserve from dawn to dusk on marked hiking trails, and a digital map is available at www.ridgeandvalleyconservancy.org.

The property was sold by William and Lori Gold, passionate environmental advocates and longtime residents of Hardwick.

“We are grateful for the professional staff and volunteers at RVC that worked with us every step of the way to make our vision of preserving this property a reality. We are also grateful for the expert planning and surveying of Laura Brill and husband Drew. Grateful to the Hardwick Land Use Board, its volunteers and staff for working with us and approving this project…grateful to the Warren County Planning Board for their review and approval…grateful to Green Acres and The Nature Conservancy for their assistance and financial support.”   

“From the bottom of our hearts we thank our community for recognizing the value of preserving property in Hardwick and helping us actualize our dreams,” said Gold. 

“The Nature Conservancy is committed to protecting biodiversity in New Jersey, with a special focus in the Bobcat Alley area. Supporting the continued expansion of Blair Creek Preserve as a place where wildlife can move freely, and species can thrive was an easy decision for us. Our partnership with Ridge and Valley Conservancy is so important, because it multiplies what we can accomplish as we conserve New Jersey’s priority remaining lands,” said Tricia Aspinwall, land conservation manager for TNC. 

Ridge and Valley Conservancy is an accredited land trust that, in cooperation with strategic partners, permanently protects and stewards land in northwestern New Jersey for the benefit of natural communities. The organization has helped protect thousands of acres of land in the region and continues to identify ecologically sensitive properties across Warren and Sussex counties for conservation.