Hunterdon Land Trust and its partners reached new heights – literally — with its latest preservation.
The highest point of this newly preserved property, at 192 Klinesville Road in Raritan Township, is roughly 700 feet above sea level and almost the highest elevation point in the township. The 50.4-acre parcel stretches to Cherryview Hollow Road and a small portion – roughly two acres – is in Franklin Township. It is one of the largest remaining undeveloped properties in Raritan Township.
Hunterdon Land Trust’s role in this preservation was to seek funding to purchase the property and submit an open space acquisition assistance grant application to Hunterdon County as well as assist Raritan Township in their grant application, said Jacqueline Middleton, HLT’s interim executive director.
“We’re always happy to partner with Raritan Township, and feel a special affinity toward projects with them because our Dvoor Farm headquarters is located in the township,” Middleton said.
Partnering in this preservation effort along with HLT were Raritan Township, Hunterdon County, and New Jersey Green Acres. Funding was provided through the Hunterdon County Open Space Assistance Fund, the NJ Green Acres Program, and the Raritan Township Open Space Fund.
“The property will become part of the Assiscong Creek Preserve and will offer hiking and nature observation in its fields and forests,” said Amy Greene, who chairs Raritan Township’s Open Space Advisory Committee. “A small parking lot is planned. In addition to offering public enjoyment, the land will help protect wildlife habitat and water quality, and mitigate downstream flooding.”
The property, previously owned by HBH Realty, had been on the township’s radar for more than a decade. But any visitor to the site would agree that it was well worth the wait. An unassuming dirt and grass path leads visitors down a gentle slope toward the first of five open fields. From that first meadow, one can enjoy the spectacular view of the mountain in the distance. A pleasing mix of wildflowers is popular with bees and other pollinators, while the sweet twittering of birdsong emanates from the mature hardwoods.
The Assiscong Creek flows south, bisecting the eastern portion of the property near Cherryview Hollow Road. A small tributary begins in the center of the property and flows northeasterly. The Assiscong empties into the South Branch of the Raritan River, which provides drinking water to more than a million people.
The property has an intriguing history, some of which can be discerned with a casual glance. The remnants of a stone structure exist near Klinesville Road to the left of the driveway, and the remains of several farm structures are to the driveway’s right.
Longtime area resident Bill McCrea remembers the house, describing it as a saltbox-style dwelling with a stone fireplace and wood siding either above or in front of the brick. The house likely dated to the 1800s, but there’s evidence of a later-era addition. McCrea recalls a large wooden barn by the house catching fire and “going up like kindling” around 1990.
HBH Realty, along with other recent preservations, raises the total number of acres HLT has protected to 11,516. Raritan Township now contains 2,251 acres of parkland/open space, and 1,532 acres of privately owned, preserved farmland.