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.”