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Second Annual “Celebrate Harding” Photo Contest
FEB 22, 2017

The second annual “Celebrate Harding Photo Contest”, sponsored by the Kemmerer Library and the Harding Land Trust, will be held in September 2017!

Harding students in grades K-12, at any school, will be invited to participate.

Details to follow.

2017 Harding Land Trust House Tour
FEB 14, 2017

The Harding Land Trust is pleased to invite you to our biennial house tour on June 5, 2017. Tickets will be available in April. Please contact crice@hardinglandtrust.org or call 973-267-2515 for more information.

Evening with the Raptor Trust
SEP 14, 2016

Students in grades K-8, with a parent, are invited to join us at the Kemmerer Library on Thursday, October 13 from 6:00-7:30pm for a Raptor Trust Program which includes:

  • Live owl presentation
  • Raptor talk
  • Show and tell
  • Prizes
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Get to know some of the species of hawks and owls that are common residents in New Jersey and find out how important they are to the natural world we all share.

Space is limited and registration is required.

Preference is given to Harding Land Trust Campout registrants in 2015 and/or 2016. To register, please email Cindy Rice.

This event is sponsored by The Kemmerer Library and the Harding Land Trust.

Calling All Kids! Camp with HLT at Primrose Farm!
AUG 3, 2016

The Harding Land Trust welcomes you to CAMP OUT on September 10th, 2016. We welcome all Harding children from the ages of 6 to 12 years old and a parent to camp out with us at Primrose Farm. Leave your phone, boom box, electric toothbrush and large screen TV at home. On this camp out, we will listen to the music of the insects, taste a fire pit meal and watch a cosmic light show. The camp out will be held on Saturday, June 4th at 4 p.m. to breakfast on Sunday September 11th.

Activities will include a scavenger hunt, wiffle ball, s’more roasting, flashlight tag, story time and more. Please bring a tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, flashlight, one gallon of water per person, mud boots and insect repellent. The land trust will provide dinner, breakfast and entertainment.

The fee is $10 per child, $15 per adult. Please RSVP by September 7th to jordan@hardinglandtrust.org. Space is limited.

Please share this flier with your friends around Harding Township!

In the event of rain, the event will be cancelled and fees refunded.

“Celebrate Harding” Photo Contest
FEB 23, 2016

Sponsored by the Kemmerer Library, the Harding Land Trust and Madison PhotoPlus

Harding students in grades K through 12, at any school, are invited to submit photos of landscapes, flora, fauna or wildlife (no pets please). All photos must be taken in Harding. There will be one grand prize winner as well as first place winners in each of three different age categories.

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The first place winner in each age group will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. The grand prize winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. In addition, Madison PhotoPlus will donate a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera ($70 value) to the grand prize winner if there are more than 10 contest entries.

The contest will run from March 1st through Earth Day, April 22nd. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded on May Day, May 1st. Photos will be displayed at a special exhibition and awards ceremony at the Kemmerer Library on May 1st from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Contest Rules (PDF)
Volunteers clean, clear hiking, horse trail in Harding
DEC 3, 2015

Itís about property stewardship and improvement, and more than two dozen residents came out to take part in a ìwork dayî event on Sunday, Nov. 8.

Representatives of the Harding Land Trust, the township and the Green Village Bridle Path Association joined to maintain what is now the sole trail leading to the Primrose Farm property.

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For about five hours, 20 to 25 volunteers teamed to perform trail maintenance and restoration work. The trail is accessed from Barrett Field on Brook Drive South and is about one-half mile long, according to Harding Land Trust Operations Manager Jordan Leff.

ìSome people came for a little while and helped. Some stayed the whole time. We used wheel barrows and equipment to move wood chips to resurface the entire trail,î he said. ìWe went from the trailís entrance at Barrett Field to the field it opens out onto on the Primrose Farm.

ìWe do events like this every year. This is part of larger project to eventually increase the number of trails available for hikers, walkers and horseback riders on the Primrose Farm property,î he said.

Joint Ownership

Leff said the Primrose property totals about 125 acres. The Harding Land Trust and the township own the property.

ìWe had a diverse group there that Sunday morning. We had land trust members. We had members of the New Vernon Fire Department and First Aid Squad. We had members of the Bridle Path Association. We want more walking trails. We want people to come and walk the property, and to enjoy it,î Leff said.

The work involved raking and removing leaves, removing weeds and undesired plant growth, removing branches and sticks and putting down a fresh coat of wood chips the entire length of the trail.

ìIt took four or five hours, but we got it all done,î Leff said. ìWe really wanted it to look like a real trail. We wanted to make it more inviting and welcoming. This half mile trail leads right to the open field. We didnít do any mowing, but there was a lot of raking and clearing debris and putting down the wood chips. We blew some leaves out of the way, and that type of thing.î

As part of the property stewardship program, Leff said more trails will be blazed in the future.

ìRight now, this is the only real trail leading to the property. People came out and gave as much time as they could, and it went very well,î he said.

Leff said he envisions future ìwork daysî a few times per year, as trails multiply and grow bigger.

ìIf you want to volunteer to help out, we are always looking for volunteers,î he said.

Typically, he said events are advertised by e-mails from the land trust.

ìWe encourage people to get out there and walk the trail. It looks much better. Itís a very well-defined trail now,î he said, adding that it can also accommodate a horse and rider. ìIt is not handicap accessible, but it can be used by equestrians. In fact, we are encouraging that. Thatís why members of the Bridle Path Association came to help out. Horses are always welcome.î

The Primrose Farm property comprises more than 120 acres of open fields and woodlands. The property is part of the watershed between Primrose Brook and the Passaic River which are important to water quality in Harding Township and beyond. The preservation project took place in two phases, beginning in 2011, utilizing Harding Open Space Trust (HOST) funds and partnerships between the Harding Land Trust and other nonprofit conservation organizations.

For more information on volunteering for future ìwork days,î e-mail Leff at Jordan@hardinglandtrust.org.

By Mike Condon, Observer Tribune, Staff Writer, Dec 3, 2015

HLT Preserves 10 More Acres!
JUN 26, 2015

An ecologically significant portion of the Dear property on Blue Mill Road south of the intersection with Red Gate Road has been preserved. After more than a decade of work by the Harding Land Trust (HLT) and the Harding Open Space Trust (HOST) committee, a complex acquisition was completed on Thursday, June 25.

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The property provides a magnificent viewscape and important linkages to other preserved properties including HLT’s 30-acre Koven property, officials said. The slightly over 10 acre piece of land protects Silver Brook and is a contributing property to the Silver Lake Historic District, offering important water resource protection value. The stream feeds into the nearby Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge. The total cost of the property was $2.7 million which is funded by grants from the Harding Open Space Trust, Morris County Open Space Trust Fund and Green Acres.

The preserved property, which faced a high likelihood of development, will now extend public access and enhance hiking and equestrian use of adjacent properties.

Tim Jones, president of the Harding Land Trust, said the deal is a “win-win” for all parties involved. “This project exemplifies a very cooperative and favorable public private partnership. The Harding Land Trust used its expertise to negotiate this acquisition for the citizens of Harding. Our goal was to protect this important link to our ecological integrity and local water quality and not to add more property to our portfolio. This transaction demonstrates how HLT can work effectively with Harding Township to benefit all area residents.”

Harding Land Trust Celebrates Land Preservation with House and Garden Tour
JUN 4, 2015

Spectacular house touring, boutique shopping and lunch with friends were on the agenda at the Harding Land Trust’s (HLT’s) fifth biennial “House and Garden Tour” beginning at the Church of Christ the King on Monday, June 1.

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Despite the rainy, cool weather, over 400 local residents came out to celebrate land preservation in Harding with a four-house tour, which included such properties as, “Apple Brook”, “Sand Spring Stables”, “Spring House Lane” and “Stoneleigh”. Those in attendance met at the Church of Christ the King on Blue Mill Road, before breaking off into staggered groups, to go view the four magnificent Harding homes. Before the tour, a colorful array of merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, belts, paintings and handbags were available for purchase by boutiques, which included Everything is Rosey, Bee’s Bake Shop, The Garden Cottage, Ellie Kai, KT Shepperly Designs, and Stanton Sweets.

A Preview party was held the night before the house tour to kick off the event. The party was an opportunity for guests to view Weathervane Farm which overlooks preserved Harding Land Trust Property. This home, built in 2003, uses period details to recreate a classic New England colonial with Pennsylvania fieldstone influences. Tim Jones, President of HLT, thanked sponsors of the event which included the lead corporate sponsor Dentons, as well as Amber Road, Chambers Center for Well Being, Cornerstone Realty, Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLC, and Van Beuren Farms. Jones also expressed HLT’s appreciation for the homeowners who opened their homes for the house tour. Jones said, “All four homes are truly unique and special. Without them, this event would not be possible.”

For the house tour portion of the event, residents were treated to an opportunity to go inside of some of Harding’s most magnificent homes. First on the tour was the “Sand Spring Stables” which was built originally as a traditional Cape Cod, with modern additions constructed in the 1970’s. Well-known architect, Peter Dorne, and landscape architect, Celia DeHuff lovingly reimagined this home to resemble an old English stable. The second property on the tour was “Applebrook”. This beautifully situated European inspired home was completed in 2009. The 7 acre home features a pool, terraces and tennis courts. The heart of the house is the kitchen, featuring a fireplace and hand-painted Clive Christian cabinetry. “Stoneleigh” is an elegant Bucks County stone farmhouse with rolling views of pastoral fields and a pond. This early nineteenth century reproduction home, designed by the renowned historic architect, Royal Barry Wills, was extensively restored and retains original details throughout. The fourth property on the tour is decorated by Melone Cloughen Interiors, a talented, local interior design company. The home is located on one of the most beautiful country roads in New Vernon. Fabulous dining spaces and a gorgeous outside terrace and pool add to the beauty and warmth of this home.”We are grateful to all of our friends who volunteered to help with this event. We couldn’t do it without them,” Karen Shea, trustee, said. “It truly takes a whole community to help run all of the details of the day.”

The Harding Land Trust is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. HLT’s mission is to preserve the farmland, woodlands and natural areas that give Harding its distinctive quality of life. Harding Land Trust works to safeguard our natural resources and preserve the rural character of our community for current and future generations. The trust was established in 1990 and has preserved more than 540 acres of scenic and environmentally sensitive land in the township. Officers in the trust include President Timothy Jones and vice presidents Lynn Boyajian, Mady Devine, Fritz Laird, Gerry Scully and Karen Shea.

This is the fifth time we’ve done this event,” said Shea, “It is our biggest fundraiser and we hope to continue for many years to come.” For more information, please visit hardinglandtrust.org.

Open Space Victory At The Polls
DEC 10, 2014

Election Day 2014 proved a great success for open space. Voters overwhelmingly said YES to preserving New Jersey’s open space, clean water, farmland, parks, natural lands, and historic sites. Ballot Question 2 amended the state constitution to set aside a percentage of the corporate business tax for preservation and was approved by over 65% of NJ Voters.

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This funding measure comes as our watershed faces increasing pressure and protecting our land becomes more important than ever before. Investing in open space ensures a healthy environment for all New Jerseyeans, present and future.

The voters of Morris County approved a measure to add trail development to county’s open space program. Over 70% of voters approved the measures and Harding Land Trust looks forward to being able to use this funding source to increase the trail presence at Primrose Farm. Expect updates in 2015!

Harding Land Trust is grateful to our supporters and supporters of open space throughout the Garden State. There is much work to be done and we look forward to continuing to protect and preserve open space!

Harding Land Trust Cleans Up With Help From Tree Tech
NOV 25, 2014

The Harding Land Trust (HLT) is pleased to announce that Tree Tech, Inc., the Mt. Freedom based firm, provided pro bono clean up work along Sand Spring Road this fall.

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The property along Sand Spring Road suffered tremendous damage during Hurricane Sandy, one of many HLT properties that lost large deciduous trees during the storm two years ago. Tree Tech sent a crew of 4 to the HLT property where they spent the day clearing tree damage at no cost as part of a project arranged through James Bellis, co-founder of Tree Tech, Inc. and HLT Trustee Catherine Herbst. “We are so grateful for the generosity of Tree Tech and James Bellis. The Harding Land Trust considers them an incredible local partner and resource. We would never be able to complete the work without their assistance,” stated Tim Jones, President of the Harding Land Trust.

The Harding Land Trust is a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the farmland, woodlands, and the natural areas that safeguard our resources and protect the rural character of Harding for current and future generations. HLT was recently accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance and is one of only 280 land trusts nationally that have been given this distinctive honor. The Harding Land Trust invites all residents to become members to support open space.

Harding Land Trust Welcomes The Fall
OCT 20, 2014

The Harding Land Trust sponsored the second annual Harding Fall Festival, at the Showgrounds along Sand Spring Lane, on Sunday, October 19th.

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The festival was open to all and over 400 people of all ages attended the event on a beautiful, crisp autumn day. The blue grass band, West Circle Drive, provided festive background music for the variety of activities taking place.

Organized entertainment for children included games, relay races, pony rides, and face painting. “Caller Dan” from Bedminster provided square dancing with a modern beat. Many families danced together and learned new steps as they had a ball together.

Food was provided by the New Vernon Deli. Gil Fitzhugh, Harding resident, provided rides around the field in his 1913 Ford Model T runabout. Mr. Fitzhugh cranked the car to start it which delighted throngs of children.

Ashleigh Scully, a 12 year old nature photographer, was signing and selling her book, “Wildlife of Harding: The Red Fox, Volume I”. Proceeds from sales of her book are being donated to Harding Land Trust. Ashleigh has won many awards for her photographs, including first place in the 2014 Great Swamp Photography Contest, Youth Division, and finalist in the 2014 Youth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition at the London Natural History Museum. Ashleigh, a student at Morristown-Beard School, has also been published in the June/July 2014 issue of “National Geographic Kids” magazine.

Tim Jones, President of the Harding Land Trust, said, “We always enjoy the opportunity to meet our neighbors and celebrate our beautiful town. The weather was great and we received a lot of feedback that our guests appreciated the wonderful day of outdoor family fun. There was a tremendous amount of lively activity at the event all afternoon! We are pleased with the turnout.” Jones says that the trust hopes to run the event again next year.

Harding Land Trust Receives Accreditation
SEP 24, 2014

The Harding Land Trust (HLT) has achieved accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance.

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Harding Land Trust was awarded accreditation in August and is one of only 280 trusts across the country that have been accredited since the fall of 2008.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., awards the accreditation seal to community institutions that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.

The commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of land conservation and nonprofit management experts from around the country.

The Land Trust Alliance, of which Harding Land Trust is a member, is a national conservation group.

“Harding Land Trust’s accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation that benefits the entire community,” David Shepperly, former president, said in a statement. “Our donors can be confident that we are following best practices in our conservation and stewardship operations.”

Shepperly was president when most of the accreditation application work was completed.

Founded 1990

The Harding Land Trust was founded in 1990 by several dedicated Harding residents. Since then, the land trust has preserved over 500 acres of open fields, sensitive habitats, and watersheds. HLT’s mission is dedicated “to preserving the farmland, woodlands, and natural areas that give Harding its distinctive quality of life. Harding Land Trust works to safeguard our natural resources and preserve the rural character of our community for current and future generations.”

Tim Jones, HLT’s current president, said, “I would like to thank our former president, David Shepperly, and our former executive director, Tina Bologna for their extraordinary vision throughout the process of achieving accreditation. We owe them, as well as various board members and staff, our gratitude for their professional expertise and tireless efforts on this project.”

According to commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn, “This round of accreditation decisions represents another significant milestone for the accreditation program; the 280 accredited land trusts account for over half of the 20,645,165 acres currently owned in fee or protected by a conservation easement held by a land trust. Accreditation provides the public with an assurance that, at the time of accreditation, land trusts meet high standards for quality and that the results of their conservation work are permanent.”

Each accredited land trust submitted extensive documentation and underwent a rigorous review, said Van Ryn.

“Through accreditation, land trusts conduct important planning and make their operations more efficient and strategic,” said Van Ryn. “Accredited organizations have engaged and trained citizen conservation leaders and improved systems for ensuring that their conservation work is permanent.”

Madelyn Devine, HLT’s executive director, said, “We are proud to display the accreditation seal as a symbol of our commitment to excellence in land conservation and stewardship. We are continually striving to refine and perfect our management practices. By earning the accreditation status, we can now show donors, foundations, partner organizations and our local and county governments that we have met these high standards.”

Harding Land Trust Seeks National Accreditation
OCT 1, 2013

Harding Land Trust is pleased to announce it is applying for accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

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The Accreditation Commission recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. This voluntary decision to achieve accreditation illustrates the efforts of the Harding Land Trust to be recognized for its esteemed standards and practices.

In addition, applying for accreditation demonstrates the Harding Land Trust’s commitment to ensuring the preservation of farmland, woodlands, and areas that safeguard natural resources, and give Harding its rural character.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Harding Land Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. The full list of standards can be seen here.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to: Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments; (fax) (518) 587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on Harding Land Trust’s application will be most useful by .

Frelinghuysen Fields Meeting
JUN 7, 2012

Many thanks to our friends and supporters who attended the Harding Open Space Trust Committee meeting last night. This project will also be discussed at the Township Committee meeting on . The Township Committee meeting begins at 7:30 pm.

Invite your friends and neighbors to attend to learn more about this remarkable preservation opportunity.

Primrose Farm Estates Preservation Update
NOV 10, 2011

On , the Morris County Freeholders voted to provide $2,880,000 in funding for the preservation of Primrose Farm Estates in Harding Township. Primrose Farm Estates is a 69.7-acre property where the development of 5 home sites is eminent. It is part of a multi-year project that preserves 115 acres of contiguous land in Harding Township.

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This property is less than 12 mile upstream of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. It straddles the Upper Passaic River to the south and Primrose Brook to the north, which are both Category One Trout Production waterways. The property also consists of former agricultural fields, grasslands, upland and wetland forests, and riparian habitat along both Primrose Brook and Upper Passaic River. It supports a seasonal population of Indiana Bats and preserves a rich mosaic of habitats that benefit many species. Preservation of this parcel will provide recreation and educational opportunities for area residents.

“We are grateful to the Morris County Freeholders for their support of this important project”, said Harding Land Trust President, David Shepperly. “This was the largest allocation of funds from the Morris County Preservation Trust this year and we are pleased that the County recognizes the importance of preserving this property.”

Philip Nicolas, the Project Manager for Trust for Public Land, led the negotiations for the project. “The leadership from Harding Township Committee was critical to the success of this project in addition to the landowners who have endured a long negotiation and have given a number of concessions to make preservation possible”.

The Harding Land Trust applied for the County grants to support both Phases of the project. Tina Bologna, Executive Director for the Land Trust explained, “Last year the County awarded $2,450,000 million towards Phase 1, which was $1 million short of what we requested. Harding Township stepped up to meet the challenge of addressing the shortfall. We are appreciative that Morris County met our full request this year and we are confident that we can raise the remaining funds to acquire this project on schedule.”

Harding Township Mayor, Marshall Bartlett agrees. “This project met the criteria of our local Open Space Trust and our residents demonstrated that there was strong support for the preservation of this property”.

Other partners contributing funds for this project include Great Swamp Watershed Association and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program.

The mission of the Harding Land Trust is to acquire, conserve and manage scenic, natural and historic lands in Harding Township in order to maintain the existing rural character of the Town for present and future generations. Working with its neighbors, the township and its conservation partners, Harding Land Trust has preserved over 300 acres of scenic and environmentally sensitive land. Since 1990 it has worked to acquire property and conservation easements within the community. By preserving open space, the trust seeks to protect the character of Harding’s countryside and ensure the integrity of its water resources.

Harding Township Advances Open Space Project
SEP 24, 2011

The Township Committee unanimously approved using a portion of the Township’s Green Acres and Open Space funds towards the purchase of 45.5 acres along Brook Drive South. This property is part of the Primrose Farm Estates subdivision and will enable the preservation of 7 building lots. This decision also advances the Phase 2 funding proposal to move forward for consideration by outside funding sources.

Please join us in thanking the members of the Harding Township Committee for their careful review all aspects of the transaction and ultimate approval of the proposal presented by the Harding Land Trust and Trust for Public Land.

Primrose Funding Moving Forward
AUG 15, 2011

Last week Harding Land Trust received notification that our 2010 funding request for $260,000 was approved by Green Acres for Phase 2 of the Primrose Farms acquisition.

These funds will supplement the Land Trust’s recent application to Morris County Open Space Trust for $2,880,000. Harding Township, Trust for Public Land and Great Swamp Watershed Association have provided preliminary approval to the $5 million funding plan.

Anderson Woods: Celebrating a Wonderful Gift
NOV 11, 2010

Few, if any, acts are as a generous as that of giving a gift of land to your community. This gift will shape the cultural fabric of a place forever. On this beautiful fall day, surrounded by the sun dappled oak-maple forest we’ve come to realize that Anderson Woods is really so much more than a plot of land. It is a great American story about an adventurous young couple who moved to Harding in the 1950’s to lead a life of creativity and simplicity.

Edgar and Joyce Anderson built their home with their own hands, stone by stone, board by board, and set up shop to translate the nature around them into beautiful works of art. Tucked into the woods and hidden from the busy roadways that border the property, the two artists have created a very private world. Over the past half century, the Andersons have lived and worked side by side on their land while establishing a reputation among the country’s foremost designers of the last century.

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Their approach to design reveals their deep relationship with the land and everything on it. Although they moved to Harding to escape the suburban pressures of Essex County, they found that it wasn’t long before, suburbia found them. Unthwarted, Joyce and Edgar Anderson simply rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The Andersons have been outspoken participants in municipal discussions about land use policy and they have consistently supported efforts to protect the township’s environmentally sensitive ecology and rural character.

The Anderson’s decision to preserve their property was made long ago, and this dream was realized when Harding Land Trust, Harding Township and New Jersey Audubon closed on the property in 2008. Under the preservation arrangement, the Andersons continue to live in their home and use the studio and barn for as long as they live. Harding Land Trust controls the surrounding wooded acreage and, eventually, New Jersey Audubon will take over the house, studio and buildings on the property to use as a museum.

A sign was recently placed along Tempe Wick Road to commemorate the gift and a small ceremony was held with the Andersons and representatives from Harding Land Trust, New Jersey Audubon and Harding Township. On that occasion, Edgar Anderson remarked, “Joyce and I are so pleased with all the contributions of Harding Land Trust, the Audubon Society and Harding Township on the long road-seven years–from a concept map to establishing Andersons Woods.”

Providing Enhanced Value to Local Tax Dollars
NOV 11, 2010

In New Jersey, there are an estimated 43 land trusts supported by 50,000 members. While few of these organizations have a regional or statewide focus, a growing number of new land trusts are community-based, which offer a unique opportunity to augment municipal land conservation efforts.

Harding Land Trust is focused solely on land preservation in Harding Township. While this may create an impediment to building a large membership and increasing financial support, it does enable us to carefully target our resources to achieving our mission in Harding.

Locally, there is some confusion about the seemingly duplicative role played by the Harding Land Trust and Harding Township’s own open space program (Harding Open Space Trust). As you read on, I hope you will see how complimentary they are and, by working collaboratively, we have been able to make the most of local tax dollars. Over time, this partnership has reduced Township’s costs for land acquisition and stewardship, while enabling it to maintain the Township’s rural character in a way that supports Harding Township’s Municipal Master Plan.

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Open space preservation is a central theme in Harding Township’s Master Plan and the Land Trust’s mission was developed to support the Township’s stated open space goals. One often understated advantage of having a local land trust, is the ability to “double the funding” for conservation projects. While Harding Open Space Trust (HOST) has funding from the municipal open space tax, Harding Land Trust can attract matching funds from State and County sources that can be used in addition to the Township’s contribution. Without the financial leveraging this partnership provides it would be much more difficult for public funds to keep up with Harding land values. In addition, Land Trust staff provide much of the day to day administration on open space acquisition projects, which can be very time consuming and costly. For example, on the recent von Zuben project, Harding Land Trust expended $35,000 on legal fees, survey work, environmental assessment and appraisals to get the deal done. This does not include our staff time dedicated to managing the process. This minimized the Township’s soft costs and enabled Harding’s funds to be used solely for the purpose of land acquisition.

As a non-governmental entity, Harding Land Trust provides a confidential environment to discuss conservation with potential land donors. We have an intimate connection with the local landscape and are well-equipped to identify land that offers critical natural habitat, recreational, agricultural and other conservation value. Land preservation is much more personal with a local, community-based land trust. We value the relationships we have with Harding landowners, some of which have developed over many years.

From a stewardship standpoint, we make it our business to know what is happening on and around all of our properties. We not only conduct annual monitoring on our own fee properties, but we also extend this service to properties that are co-owned with Harding Township. We maintain active stewardship files that include annual reports and photographic documentation from each monitoring site visit. Our Trustees take a very active role in the monitoring and this experience helps them understand some of the complexities associated with long-term management. Each month Land Trust staff and Trustees make decisions about where to spend our valuable stewardship dollars. More recently, we have successfully experimented with volunteer-supported maintenance, which has enabled us to do so much more with limited funds.

Speaking of funding, Harding Land Trust has a strong record of accessing grants and expertise within the conservation community, many of which are not available to municipalities. Harding Land Trust is currently working under a $20,000 contract for habitat restoration activities on two of our fee properties. We work closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and New Jersey Audubon on establishing restoration goals for our land. Management needs vary widely from property to property, and we are guided by the conservation goals established at the time of purchase. These goals reflect both the land donors’ wishes and the responsible stewardship of public assets.

When a property is preserved either by donation or through the use of open space funds, a legal contract is made to preserve the property for perpetuity. Although community interests can shift and politics will change, land trusts and municipalities must work together to ensure that the necessary systems and strategies are in place for the future. In Harding, the partnership between the Land Trust and the Township has been very successful. Through mutual trust and support much has been accomplished over the last 20 years and as a consequence, much of Harding’s rural character has been preserved. It’s hard to argue with the methods or the result.

I recently returned from the annual Land Trust Rally, where I joined 1,800 conservation leaders in Hartford, Connecticut to share land preservation strategies. One of the most interesting aspects of the gathering is sharing stories about what we all have in common: working with people within our communities to save the land we love. Harding Land Trust’s mission and passion for keeping Harding rural is not subject to shifting political winds, or municipal budget constraints. We are HERE, and we are planning for PERPETUITY. I hope you will continue your support for the preservation of Harding’s natural infrastructure. You can help by becoming a member and by supporting continued funding for open space acquisition in Harding. Please tell your elected officials why open space is important to Harding residents.

Rural Harding: Fleeting Glimpses
NOV 11, 2010

Local resident and Land Trust friend, Jane Kendall, has recently published her book of photographs entitled, “Rural Harding: Fleeting Glimpses.” The hardcover book “explores the enchanting vistas, babbling brooks and wonderful images that give the town its special flavor,” says Kendall.

A portion of the proceeds from the book will benefit non-profit organizations dedicated to the health and well-being of rural Harding.

If you order the book using this form, $10 will be donated to Harding Land Trust. Just print out the form and mail it along with your check. This book provides a wonderful glimpse of Harding’s open spaces and you will be sure to recognize many familiar scenes.

Stewardship: The other side of the coin
NOV 9, 2010

There is nothing more energizing and rewarding in the open space preservation business than acquiring control of a beautiful piece of property with high ecological value.

Harding has an abundance of those opportunities and they can pop up at anytime to attract attention and resources. As a result, it is understandable that the far less glamorous but equally important follow up stewardship of acquired lands can easily be overlooked.

If we are not careful any of a number of threats, some subtle, some obvious, can divert the use or appearance of a preserved property in the wrong direction. Invasive plant species, over or under maintenance, encroachments, unsafe trees, inappropriate uses, can undermine the beautiful and environmental value of a property.

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And here is where the institutionalized discipline of the Land Trust’s stewardship program comes in. In the Fall every year, every property that the Land Trust has any responsibility for is walked and audited by trustees and staff – no exceptions. Current conditions are compared to the property baseline and to prior audits. If the property is jointly held by the Township and the Land Trust, the Land Trust has taken leadership in drafting Management Plans that define what is to be done, by whom, so responsibilities don’t slip between the cracks. Encroachments are referred back to the encroacher for correction or if necessary, legal action is started. Physical problems are dealt with immediately if appropriate and planned for future action consistent with the management goals for the property if necessary.

Twenty years and 300 preserved acres later for the Land Trust its “so far so good.” Never forget, however, that land is always evolving, some appropriate, some not, so if you notice something that looks amiss, be a steward, let us know. No badges, no name in lights, just the satisfaction that we are staying true to the values that keep Harding as one of the best places in the world to live.

Harding Land Trust Welcomes Volunteers
NOV 9, 2010

The Land Trust has had a few projects this year that would not have been possible without the help of volunteers.

We were fortunate to have the help from a group of corporate volunteers from United Parcel Service this spring. One early Saturday morning in May they arrived with a van filled with tools, ready to go! With their help we spruced up the Gatehouse, our headquarters, for the season.

Our fence was repaired, dead shrubs removed, weeds and poison ivy removed, pachysandra planted, trees trimmed and mulched! We were also able to recover the front walk to our building and reset some slates and a small stone wall. It was a great day! Our thanks go out to Rosalie Lavinthal and Dennis Briede of the Land Conservancy of NJ for coordinating this for us.

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Another group of willing student volunteers from Drew University. They have helped us plant trees and shrubs in riparian buffer zones and have seeded and mulched the Von Zuben property. Couldn’t have done it without them!

We also wish to thank Jamie Miller for his help in clearing the bridle trail property on Dickson’s Mill and Blue Mill Roads. Jamie arrived with tools and his truck and we were able to remove some large trees that had fallen across the trails. It would have been very expensive to hire a tree service to do this for us.

Jim Fennimore deserves special recognition for his continued help with many of our properties. He always goes beyond the call of duty, and we call on him so much, we are starting to think of him as extended staff. Hal Scaff also provides technical assistance and help managing the Frelinghuysen Field Warm Season Grass Project. It is nice to know we can call him with grassland management questions and he always points us in the right direction. Nancy Jones of Logansbrook Equine Center has helped us hay our newly established timothy in Frelinghuysen Field and we appreciate her assistance in helping to manage the field for nesting grassland bird species.

UPS Spruces Up Harding Land Trust Headquarters
OCT 26, 2010

Employees from UPS’s Morristown office spent a recent Saturday beautifying the property that houses the Harding Land Trust. UPS employees volunteer several times a year with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s Partners for Parks Program. This program recruits corporate and civic volunteer groups to work on projects designed to improve federal, state or locally-owned open space lands.

The group of 10 volunteers worked on the James Street property, co-owned by Harding Land Trust and Harding Township. The 14-acre property was preserved in 2002 through a combination of funds from the State Green Acres Program and Morris County Open Space Trust and Harding Township open space funds. Work included tree trimming, spreading mulch, removing invasive plants, and repairing an old post and rail fence. Even a portion of the house was scraped and prepped for a new coat of paint.

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It is difficult for small nonprofits like ours to fund maintenance projects, said Harding Land Trust Director, Tina Bologna. “We can secure grants to conduct ecological restoration projects on our properties, but it is difficult for us to fund landscaping and beautification projects.” Harding Land Trust is a privately funded organization that has preserved over 300 acres in Harding Township since it’s origin in 1990.

The Land Conservancy’s Partners for Parks program was instituted in 1996, and has since completed over 285 projects, affecting over 16,000 acres of federal, state, county, municipal, and non-profit lands in 7 northern New Jersey counties. More than 5000 volunteers from 60 corporations and businesses have participated in this program.

“Partners for Parks is has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to improve the appearance of our property. I am sure our neighbors will be just as grateful as we are,” concluded Bologna.

Celebrating 20 Years
OCT 26, 2010

On September 19, 2010, The Harding Land Trust celebrated twenty years of land conservation. Founding members of the Harding Land Trust, as well as former trustees and generous land owners were honored for their hard work and accomplishments. The event was held at the home of Richard and Cathy Herbst of Harding Township on a beautiful Sunday evening.

Jay Kemmerer, the original founding member of the Harding Land Trust, spoke about the conception of the Harding Land Trust in the wake of the donation of 56 acres of land to the Township by the Margetts family. In late 1989, while driving past the scenic field, Jay Kemmerer decided there should be a local land trust to preserve and steward more properties like it. Kemmerer wanted his children to enjoy the same beauty and open spaces he had loved for so many years. Having no experience forming a land trust, Kemmerer picked up a land trust book, the first of its kind, published in 1990, and got to work.

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Now, twenty years later, the Harding Land Trust has over 300 acres of open space and environmentally sensitive land acquired by working with its neighbors, the township and its conservation partners. The original mission statement of the Harding Land Trust, which sought to protect the entry ways into our community, protect large open space parcels, acquire easements for bridle trails and wetlands and to protect stream corridors and trout production streams, has changed very little. By preserving open space, the HLT seeks to protect the character of Harding’s countryside and ensure integrity of its water sources.

In attendance at the celebration were fellow land conservation enthusiasts, The Hons. Peter and Rodney Frelinghuysen; Harding Township Committee Members, Marshall Bartlett and Nic Platt; founding officers, Sally Dudley, W. Thomas Margetts and Jay Kemmerer. Former and present trustees were all honored, as well as many land donors. Tom MacCowatt, past President and Tina Bologna, Executive Director, both spoke to the honorees and thanked them for their generous time and support.

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