The Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Planning, Economic Development and Land Use welcomes you. Our focus is to provide for meaningful use of leisure time, encourage appreciation of our natural resources, and preserve and protect open space and greenways for the enjoyment of future generations. We look forward to your participation in one of the many exciting programs and hope you will soon begin to explore the beautiful park areas of Hunterdon County.
The Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation is governed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Parks Advisory Board, which is comprised of volunteer citizens appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee consults the Freeholders on all matters regarding county park lands, public recreation and environmental education opportunities. Over 8,500 acres of land has been purchased for purposes of environmental preservation, and for the public's recreational enjoyment. The staff members of the Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation serve to carry out the mission of the County implementing hundreds of recreational activities, environmental education programs, and special events annually.
Over 300,000 citizens annually, enjoy the parks and programs Hunterdon County has to offer.
Parks are open dawn to dusk, every day. The Parks Office located at the Hunterdon County Arboretum, 120 Highway 31, Lebanon, NJ 08833.
Phone: 908-782-1158 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HISTORY OF THE DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION
INTRODUCTION - PARKS, RECREATION, & CONSERVATION:
Since the early 1960’s, the citizens of Hunterdon County have expressed their concerns about preserving the rural and agricultural character of the County. This desire has developed, over the past four decades, into a land preservation movement throughout the County. In recent years, partnerships have formed with private, municipal, County, State, and non-profit organizations, to preserve open space by various means throughout Hunterdon County. These continued partnerships will result in providing areas for future generations, in which to view nature, and enjoy quiet moments along a stream or river. It will provide places where residents and visitors can fish, hunt, play golf, participate in team and individual sports, and enjoy other recreational pursuits. The diverse natural features of our Hunterdon County parklands include rocky cliffs, fields, forests, streams, rivers, marshes, and ponds. Come and visit our beautiful County and enjoy some of nature’s best offerings in the State of New Jersey.
A CHRONOLOGY OF ADMINISTRATIVE EVOLUTION & PARKLAND ACQUISITION:
In the early 1960's, a Citizen's Advisory Group was formed to preserved open space in the County. For nearly a decade, this group worked to pave the way for the development of a county-wide park system.
The first County parkland, the Wescott Nature Preserve, was established in 1966, through the donation of 15 acres of land, in Delaware Township, by Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Wescott. An additional donation of approximately 66 acres was made by Mr. and Mrs. Wescott, in 1972. Today the Wescott Nature Preserve consists of 74 acres.
In 1973, the Citizens Advisory Group evolved into the Hunterdon County Board of Recreation Commissioners. Under the guidance of the Board, approximately 4,300 acres of County parkland was purchased over a 27-year period, through donations, and using non-profit, state and federal money.
On January 1, 2001, the Board of Recreation Commissioners was reorganized into the Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation, and a group of citizen volunteers, known as the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board was appointed. Since the changeover, the park system has increased dramatically, and the new County position of Open Space Coordinator was established, to assist in land acquisition. Also during this time, the County voters approved an Open Space Tax, to provide funding for the acquisition of lands for recreation, conservation and general open space as well as farmland preservation. In November 2004, Hunterdon County voters approved a second ballot question to continue the Open Space Tax, for the 5 year period, commencing January 1, 2005 and ending December 31, 2009. Since the Open Space Tax has been collected, over 9,500 acres of land has been preserved for open space, farmland and conservation purposes.
Presently, the Hunterdon County Park System comprises 8,280 acres of land, in 26 areas. This land can be categorized, and best described or represented as: Unimproved Natural Areas, Improved Natural Areas, Linked/Greenway Areas, General Use Areas, and Special Use Areas. Each of these park area categories provides a different type of environment and public use. Of course, each type also has different maintenance and habitat management goals and requirements.
The County's long-term goal is to add another 10,000 acres of land (more or less) to the Park System through fee simple purchases and conservation easements. This may also include lands that are jointly purchased by Hunterdon County, the State, municipalities and nonprofit conservation organizations or owned outright by the State Department of Environmental Protection and/or the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, and managed by the Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation, for public park, recreation and conservation purposes. This would place the County's total parkland holdings at nearly 6% of the total available land area or approximately 279,680 acres in Hunterdon County.
DEVELOPMENT OF RECREATIONAL FACILITIES:
The County presently has 26 individual park areas. They can be described as essentially passive park areas. Some of which serve to buffer waterways, forming greenway corridors. Some contain parking areas, picnic and camping areas, and nature study opportunities. Several are more developed and contain formal group areas and ball fields. The majority of County park properties are located in Raritan, Readington, Clinton and Lebanon Townships.
Many hiking, bicycle, and horseback riding trails are located in these park areas. Areas such as Cold Brook Preserve, Round Mountain Section of Deer Path Park, Point Mountain Section of the Musconetcong River Reservation, portions of the South Branch River Reservation, Wescott Nature Preserve, Hoffman Park and Charlestown Reservation, and Teetertown Ravine Nature Preserve. Large group campsites, and the County's first-ever public wilderness campsites, are also a recent addition to the Teetertown Ravine Nature Preserve.
Picnic facilities are located at Echo Hill Environmental Education Area, the County Arboretum, Deer Path Park, several areas along the South Branch River Reservation, Hoffman Park, and Point Mountain Section of the Musconetcong River Reservation and the Mountain Farm Section of the Teetertown Ravine Nature Preserve. Deer Path Park also has several large, reservable group picnic facilities.
Parking is provided at most of the above-mentioned areas. Horse trailer parking is not provided in all the areas that have horse trails, however, so a phone call to the park office is recommended.
Hunting is allowed on over 5,100 acres of the 8,280-acre Hunterdon County Park System. The County's successful Controlled Hunting Program restricts individual hunters to specific park sites, which is limited by the size of the park and surrounding public safety zones. An overall ratio of 1-hunter-to-20-acres of huntable property is maintained. Hunters return survey information at seasons end, to help the County measure the effectiveness of the Controlled Hunting Program annually. Fishing, on a catch-and-release basis, is allowed in virtually all park areas. The State Fish and Wildlife Rules and Regulations regulate all hunting and fishing activities.
In terms of active recreation, the County has one golf facility, the Heron Glen Golf Course, in Raritan Township. In addition, Deer Path Park has a softball field and 2 soccer fields. Weekly free public concerts are held throughout the summer at Deer Path Park, presently, the County's only designated general use park area. The Division of Parks & Recreation offers a diverse array of recreational, music, art, crafts, sports, and camp programs, in many of its park areas, as well as travel programs off site. Educational programs for groups and individuals are also offered, which interpret natural resource and environmental topics, and significant area history. These popular programs are described in this web site. The current trend in Hunterdon County is that municipalities have taken the lead in developing high-use ballfield areas, court surface facilities and active use parks.
The County in resent years developed the County Fairgrounds facility in East Amwell Township, which became the new home of the Hunterdon County 4-H and Agricultural Fair, which also celebrated its 100th Anniversary, in August of 2004! It is possible that a wide variety of other large-scale public recreational activities may also be held on that site. Upon the acquisition and development of additional adjacent properties, the Fairgrounds serves as the nucleus of a larger general use park, known as the South County Park.
As indicated above, Hunterdon County parks can best be described as providing passive recreational opportunities. The long-standing policy, especially in light of the current rate of residential and commercial development, is that the purchase of additional open space is by far the highest and best use of public funding in Hunterdon County, when compared to developing active parks and facilities. Public utilization of County properties has largely been limited to low-impact activities (as described above), which reduces the need for park maintenance, thus allowing the County to focus available public funding in the area of open space acquisition. Portable rest facilities, as opposed to permanent flush units and septic fields, are provided in many park areas. As the Park System gets closer to meeting its projected preservation goals, additional areas may be developed as “general ”and special use parks. In any case, the County recognizes that public utilization of park properties and park development in general will be conducted in an environmentally responsible fashion. The environmental character of park sites will be preserved to the greatest extent possible. Environmentally sensitive areas, containing endangered species, the recognized habitat elements and/or breeding grounds for endangered species, as well as areas having steep slopes, rock face habitats, wetlands, floodplains, significant woodlands and/or grassland meadows, will be managed to promote habitat and biodiversity.
The Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation is dedicated to preserving open space and natural resources, providing safe parks and facilities, and offering educational and recreational opportunities, all contributing to an enhanced quality of life for present and future generations.
The Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation welcomes all individuals to participate and enjoy our parks, facilities, and recreational programs. Reasonable accommodations, individual adaptations, and support will be provided for persons of all abilities, to encourage everyone to benefit equally from their choice of leisure activities. Please notify us if you need reasonable accommodations either at the time of registration or at least three weeks prior to program attendance or facility use. Each request will be assessed individually.
Hunterdon County American's with Disabilities Act Statement