(05/14) TRENTON-Highlighting the importance of preserving wetlands, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced the acquisition of the Hyponex Corporation site in Andover, Hampton and Lafayette Townships and the Town of Newton in Sussex County, New Jersey. DEP will manage the 1,038-acre property for hunting, fishing, birding and other passive recreational activities.

"The Hyponex tract's extensive wetlands complement DEP's existing preservation projects along the Paulinskill and provide a critical waterfowl breeding and migration habitat," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey.

The Hyponex Corporation site contains significant water resources and wetlands. The property is in the headwaters of the Paulinskill, which drains into the Delaware River and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The Paulinskill also is a popular trout fishing destination and breeding ground for dwarf-edged mussel, which require pristine water quality.

The Hyponex property consists predominantly of wetlands, including wooded swamps, bogs and impoundments, and supports endangered plants including the pear hawthorn, rush aster and bog rosemary. The 20-mile Sussex Branch Trail and the 27-mile long Paulinskill Valley Trail, both of which are part of the State Trails System, traverse or border portions of the Hyponex site.

"Preserving wetlands prevents flooding and drinking water contamination and provides critical habitat for wildlife," said Commissioner Campbell. "The acquisition of this new wildlife management area is a victory for the protection of wetlands and a great opportunity for New Jersey's hunters, fisherman and birders."

The preservation of the Hyponex property will protect the habitat of a variety of wildlife species. The site is habitat to waterfowl including ducks, geese, and swans, wading birds such as herons and egrets, and shorebirds like the spotted sandpiper. The site also supports the threatened wood turtle and the endangered bog turtle and red-shoulder hawk. In addition, muskrat, beaver, raccoon, fox, deer and bear can be found at the property.

"The Hyponex property hosts the Noah's Ark of Skylands wildlife," said Eric Stiles, New Jersey Audubon Society's Vice President for Conservation. "This property will provide a unique, high quality experience for the over 2 million people who watch wildlife in New Jersey annually. In 2001, wildlife watchers spent over $2 billion in New Jersey, underscoring the message that conservation is also good business."

Settling longstanding federal wetlands violations at the preserved site, Hyponex Corporation undertook an extensive wetlands restoration project that mitigated the effects of previous peat and muck soil mining. In addition, Hyponex provided DEP a $125,000 endowment fund to be used for management of the property's natural resources.

DEP purchased the $1,900,000 property from Hyponex Corporation with $1,400,000 in Green Acres Program state acquisition funding and $500,000 from the DEP Waterfowl Stamp Program.

The DEP Waterfowl Stamp Program uses revenue from the sale of state waterfowl stamps and prints to purchase wetlands, which serve as waterfowl habitat. To date, proceeds from the sale of New Jersey's duck stamps and prints have raised more than $3.9 million to acquire more than 14,000 acres of wetlands for waterfowl habitat and public use.

The DEP Green Acres Program purchases land to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources and other significant natural and historical open space. Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.

In 2004, the Green Acres Program acquired 23,237 acres of open space. To date, Green Acres has protected 686,745 acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open space and farmland totals almost 1.3 million acres.

Related Link:

NJDEP Green Acres