A map of the preserved land (click to enlarge).

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association recently purchased about 20 acres on the Mount Rose Ridge from the Hopewell Veterinary Group.

The June 21 land acquisition expands the Watershed Reserve to 950 acres. This 19.4 acre parcel is on the north slope of the Mount Rose Ridge and is in an area zoned to preserve some of the most environmentally sensitive and biologically diverse habitat in Hopewell Township.

Jim Waltman, executive director of the Watershed, said the property acquisition was two years in the making. The property, which is contiguous to the Watershed Reserve, is characterized by mature forest and a dense understory of native plants.

The Watershed received funding for this purchase from the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Mercer County Open Space Fund and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Franklin Parker Grants Program.

“We appreciate the confidence our funding partners have in us,” Waltman said. “This acquisition expands the natural habitat protected by our Watershed Reserve.”

The vet group retained about six acres, including its veterinary hospital and parking lots, of the original 26.2-acre parcel.

Waltman said this project is an example of what may become a more common strategy for land conservation: the Watershed subdivided the natural lands from the existing buildings and parking area.

“Moving forward, I believe that many more conservation projects that non-profits and governments do in New Jersey will involve this kind of conservation subdivision,” Waltman said.