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For Immediate Release: April 7, 1998 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


River Walk farm in Pohatcong Township, Warren County, has two proud new owners. More than 430 acres of the 561-acre grain farm were successfully auctioned back into private ownership as two separate farms by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) today. Theodore M. Long of Somerville purchased Farm A for $410,000. The property consists of approximately 232 acres, a family residence and a farm labor house. Farm B, consisting of approximately 201 acres with the opportunity for construction of a residential unit as limited by deed restrictions, was sold to Gary and Michelle Hartung, whose family formerly owned the farm and whose current homestead is surrounded on three sides by this portion of the property. This parcel sold for $450,000. Both farms were auctioned as permanently deed-restricted parcels to prohibit non-agricultural use with the development rights on both properties held by the SADC. The remaining 128 acres will be acquired by the Phillipsburg Riverview Organization in cooperation with the NJDEP/Green Acres for permanent preservation and management as grassland bird habitat. Bordered to the west and north by the Delaware River and I-78, respectively, River Walk is an ecologically sensitive agricultural area and provides habitat for as least four grassland nesting bird species which are on the state's threatened or endangered species list. The preservation of these parcels of land complements the farmland preservation efforts of the Warren County Agriculture Development Board and will increase the amount of preserved farmland in the county by more than 20 percent. To date, through the Farmland Preservation Program (FPP), Warren County has preserved 19 farms totaling 3,266 acres. The picturesque River Walk Farm, which was once slated for intense residential development, is the largest single property acquired in fee simple by the FPP. The farm's preservation was a culmination of a unique cooperative effort by federal, state, county, municipal and non-profit organizations. The majority of the funding for the fee simple purchase of the property came from state farmland preservation bond funds and Green Acres bond funds through the Phillipsburg Riverview Organization (PRO), as well as contributions from Warren County and Pohatcong Township. In addition, the acquisition of River Walk marked the first time federal Farmland Preservation Program funds were used to help purchase a New Jersey farm in its entirety. The $220,000 in federal funds was made available through USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service under a program launched in the federal Farm Bill of 1996. New Jersey's 1997 grant proposal received the highest ranking of any tract proposed for inclusion in the federal program in the Eastern Region.

Statewide, the FPP has preserved 284 farms totaling 44,236 acres.