Middlesex County Adds 19 Acres to Wildlife Preserve
METUCHEN – The Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Sanctuary is about to expand.
Middlesex County said on the site on Wednesday that it intends to acquire 18.7 acres of land from the Metuchen Realty Association, which will later become part of the reserve.
Additionally, the county will enter into a conservation management agreement with the borough to manage an additional 12 acres of open space adjacent to the newly purchased land, which could lead to possible future acquisitions.
“This land will eventually become part of the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve – formerly known as the Dismal Swamp – and serve as a gateway to this unique area of Middlesex County,” said Ronald G. Rios, Director of the Council of County Commissioners, thanking Metuchen’s partners for making the acquisition a reality. “The strong working relationship between the county and the borough helps make projects like this possible – and successful. “
This new addition to the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve will provide many benefits of open spaces, including the preservation of critical habitats for plants and wildlife, the capture and storage of precipitation, and the protection of groundwater sources. , according to county officials.
READ:Legacy of Peter J. Barnes III honored in ceremony at Old Dismal Swamp
Planned improvements to public access include trails, boardwalks, a walkway, interpretive signs and convenient parking for visitors, county officials said.
The reserve is named after Barnes, a former Edison town councilor, state legislator and Middlesex County Superior Court judge, who died in February at the age of 64. The reserve is bordered by parts of Edison, Metuchen and South Plainfield.
Nearly 200 species of birds, two dozen mammals and more than a dozen species of reptiles and amphibians have been sighted in the reserve, where archaeological excavations have uncovered at least five important archaeological sites, including one over 10,000 years old.
The reserve is one of the last remaining wet ecosystems in an urbanized environment.
Commissioner Charles E. Tomaro has said open space is a priority in Middlesex County and the acquisition of the 18.7 acres aligns with the county’s Destination 2040 open space and recreation plan.
“Ultimately, we envision this space not only as an area dedicated to the preservation of this important ecosystem and wildlife, but as a great place for members of the public to enjoy passive forms of recreation such as viewing. birds, photography, walking and just taking in the natural wonders of the Dismal Swamp, ”said Tomaro. “Together, in partnership with the Borough of Metuchen, we will ensure that this area of the Dismal Brook reserve is a space that future generations can enjoy.
Metuchen Mayor Jonathan M. Busch said the land acquired by the county is a vital wetland ecosystem that is home to a number of wildlife, including around 165 different species of birds.
“This purchase is made possible by the impressive environmental clean-up effort undertaken by the Metuchen Realty Association,” he said.
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Suzanne Russell is a late-breaking reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, the courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please register or activate your digital account today.