County preserves open space

JACKSON — Almost 21 acres of natural lands in Jackson will be preserved as open space by the Ocean County Board of Freeholders.

“This purchase comes with a number of benefits,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee. “It will preserve this land as open space and provide an added buffer to future encroachment of the Joint Base.”

According to a press release from the county, as part of the acquisition, the U.S. military has committed to fund 50 percent of the purchase price of $450,000.

“The location of this property, near the northern boundary of Joint Base McGuire- Dix-Lakehurst, makes it eligible for the cost share funding from the Department of Defense,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, director of Law and Public Safety. “This continuing partnership shows our commitment to the Joint Base and the military’s commitment to continue to work with Ocean County. The purchase helps to minimize future encroachments to base operations.”

Kelly noted that a recently completed joint land-use study with the military bases, surrounding municipalities, Burlington County and Ocean County identified the preservation of certain lands as important to provide a buffer for the Joint Base.

“This parcel is consistent with that recommendation,” Kelly said.

The land is along Toms River Road (county Route 571) and Lakehurst Road in Jackson. It is across from properties that are already preserved, according to the press release.

“This parcel contains a small tributary to the Ridgeway Branch of the Toms River which has been recognized as an important critical habitat corridor,” Bartlett said. “Acquisition of this property will help create a greenway from the Joint Base north to Patriots’ County Park and the state’s Forest Resource Education Center. This land meets the eligibility requirements of the county’s open space program and has been recommended for preservation by the Natural Lands Advisory Committee.”

The owner of the property is BG Investments @ JoAnn Timbers LLC, Lakewood.

“This purchase emphasizes the importance of working in cooperation with different agencies for the best results possible for Ocean County,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The military’s contribution to this purchase helps Ocean County and the base which is a vital economic and safety engine for the region.”