Water and Wildlife
Part of D&R Canal State Park, the Frenchtown Preserve encompasses 150 acres of open fields and a mixture of cedar and hardwood forest, with frontage on Route 29, the state’s first designated Scenic Byway. The views of the river from the high-elevation fields are breathtaking, and the protection of this property ensures a scenic car ride or bicycle trip for those traversing the byway.
The Nishisakwick Creek and its tributaries criss-cross this preserve, forming deep ravines. This stream system has the highest state classification, Category 1, which means the water is of the highest quality. The Nishisakwick stream system supports a stocked trout fishery, attracting anglers from far and wide. The land itself provides an important buffer to public drinking water wells, ensuring a cleaner water supply for residents.
The Leni-Lenape Indians are known to have established seasonal camps along the banks of the Delaware River, and this property and the surrounding farms bear the evidence of those early residents who fished the streams and river, and hunted the woods and fields of the region. The deep, interior forests of the property provide habitat for an abundance of bird species, such as pileated woodpeckers and owls. Black bear have been seen in the area. The fields provide the perfect spot to view the resident osprey and their young, as they return to a nearby nest every season. This property has long been a closely-held secret of locals interested in hiking and nature observation and holds a place in the hearts of many long-time community residents.
The Hunterdon Land Trust completed the acquisition of this 150-acre parcel in 2006. The property was zoned for high-density housing with a potential for more than 100 residences. The Land Trust recognized the importance of this parcel to the local community as well as the water protection, species habitat and recreational opportunities it provided. The Land Trust cultivated support for the preservation of this property from a variety of critical partners: the NJ Green Acres Program, Division of Parks and Forestry, the NJ Department of Transportation, Frenchtown Borough, Hunterdon County, and the Open Space Institute. The Land Trust coordinated the project from initial communication with the owners to the closing and contributed over $2 million in grant funding awarded to it specifically for this project. The preserve is now an extension of D&R Canal State Park and is managed by the NJ Division of Parks and Forestry.
Project partners: Frenchtown Borough, Hunterdon County, NJ Green Acres Program, NJ Division of Parks and Forestry, NJ Department of Transportation, Open Space Institute, and Hunterdon Land Trust.