D&R Greenway News

D&R Greenway Land Trust Preserves “Piece of Heaven”

Marino Family Continues a Family Tradition of Preservation in the Sourlands

Click map for detailed view of our 316th property permanently preserved.

May 26, 2021 ~ Princeton, NJ

D&R Greenway Land Trust announces the permanent preservation of its 316th property since its 1989 founding, less than a half mile from where the land trust first purchased land for preservation. This multigenerational half acre, made up of scenic woodland along Hopewell-Wertsville Road, is the second parcel of land preserved by the Marino family with D&R Greenway. Donated by the Marino siblings, preservation of this roadside woodland ensures continuation of the rural character of the area.

During its first decade, the Marino family was among the earliest preservationists with D&R Greenway. Their initial preserved property contributed to the core of the land trust’s Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve that now protects over 3,000 acres within New Jersery’s largest contiguous forest. Gary Marino declares, “On behalf of the Marino family, I would like to thank D&R Greenway and attorney Richard Goldman for accepting our donation of property in the Sourlands. This property had been owned for 100 years by three generations of Marinos. Many family memories are associated with the property. We are so happy that the land will be preserved in its natural state by D&R Greenway for many generations to come.”

This sparsely populated area known as the Sourlands includes parts of Somerset, Hunterdon and Mercer Counties. Groundwater recharge and healthy Sourlands streams that flow into the Delaware & Raritan Canal and the Millstone River protect drinking water for over 1.2 million New Jerseyans. The new preserve, which D&R Greenway CEO & President Linda J. Mead refers to as “a piece of heaven,” also connects to the Hunterdon Sourlands Preserve.

Among the fascinating aspects of this latest preservation success, says Mead, is that “The first property protected by D&R Greenway was also the very first acquisition in New Jersey completed with the new, at the time, NJ Green Acres nonprofit grant funds. This acquisition brings us full circle, occurring in the same year that we are celebrating the NJ Green Acres Program’s 60th anniversary.”

Sourland Woods, NJ Trails

New Jersey has the distinction of having the first state-funded open space protection program in the nation. Initially focused on direct State acquisitions, and municipal and county grants, in 1990, the year after D&R Greenway was founded, the State began its nonprofit grant program. Protection of land in the Sourlands, where the headwaters of many streams begin, was among D&R Greenway’s top priorities.

Downy Woodpecker

Protection of this land prevents incursions of houses, driveways and hardscapes, ensuring natural habitat for wild creatures. Among avian species present in the Sourlands in spring and fall migration seasons, and that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival, are the red-bellied, downy, hairy, and the rare pileated woodpecker; vivid northern flicker; eastern towhee, American woodcock; red-tailed hawks and other significant raptors.

The Sourland Mountain region has been designated an official Important Bird Area [IBA] by the National Audubon Society. The Sourland Mountain Region contains approximately 25,000 acres of mature, contiguous forest, 7,500 acres of wetlands and 20,000 acres of agricultural land in active production. Sourland Mountain Region | Audubon Important Bird Areas.

National Audubon Society warns that “development pressure, invasive species and an overabundant deer population severely threaten the integrity of the Sourland Mountain Region IBA.” The work of D&R Greenway Land Trust and its partners in the Sourlands is needed in order to maintain this important forest that has been called “New Jersey’s Central Park.”

Marino property on Hopewell-Wertsville Road


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D&R Greenway Land Trust, an accredited nonprofit, has saved over 22,000 acres of New Jersey land since its founding in 1989.  Preserving land for life and creating public trails grants everyone the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The land trust’s preserved farms and community gardens provide local organic food for our neighbors—including those most in need. D&R Greenway’s strategic land conservation and stewardship combat climate change, protect wildlife, and ensures clean drinking water for future generations. D&R Greenway’s mission is connecting land with people from all walks of life.

D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, home to its art galleries in Princeton, is currently closed to ensure health and safety due to COVID.  Our outdoor trails and labyrinth are open. Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages and www.drgreenway.org to learn about the organization’s latest news and virtual programs. D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, Princeton NJ 08540. Best way to reach D&R Greenway Staff during the COVID pandemic is by Info e-mail, available on the website, or by calling D&R Greenway at 609-578-7470.


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