Drew Forest Preservation Efforts Hang in the Balance as Morris County Considers $5 Million Grant, US

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Updated: 3:50 PM, Fri November 10, 2023

Drew Forest Preservation Efforts Hang in the Balance as Morris County Considers $5 Million Grant

Efforts to preserve the Drew Forest in Morris County, New Jersey, are at a critical juncture as the county considers a $5 million grant. The preservationists, however, are urging the county to double the funding if they want to have a chance at saving the forest. The Madison borough officials had initially applied for a $10 million grant to protect the 51-acre woodland located on the Drew University campus.

While negotiations between Madison and Drew University are still ongoing, the committee responsible for overseeing the grant applications could only approve $5 million at this time. According to Committee Chairman Jay Thomson, projects of this scale usually have signed contracts or multiple funding partners in place, but the current application falls short of meeting these benchmarks.

Madison Mayor Robert Conley assured the commissioners that Drew University intends to sell the property and their preference, like everyone in the room, is to preserve the forest. However, if Madison can’t secure the funding, the land could be developed for housing.

Drew University, facing financial challenges in recent years due to factors like a decline in college-aged students, a drop in state aid, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sees the forest as one of its principal assets. The university aims to leverage outside resources to ensure the forest’s preservation.

Madison officials had hoped that along with the $10 million grant, additional funding from federal, state, and local sources would cover the market-rate purchase of the entire forest. While the exact cost remains uncertain, it is anticipated to exceed $10 million. Madison Mayor Conley expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached with the university and emphasized the importance of obtaining the full $10 million in funding.

Various stakeholders, including students, neighboring residents, and environmentalists, have joined forces to form the nonprofit group Friends of the Drew Forest, advocating for the forest’s preservation. Their petition in support of preservation gathered over 15,000 signatures.

The Morris County Commissioners are expected to vote on the resolution to authorize the grants at their upcoming meeting. While the commissioners traditionally approve committee grant recommendations, they have the authority to reject, modify, or approve them.

Since 1994, the Morris County Open Space Program has successfully preserved over 17,800 acres of land, with funding generated through a county preservation tax approved by voters in 1992.

Chairman Thomson hopes that the $5 million commitment from Morris County will encourage additional funding from other sources for this significant project. Both Madison and Drew University remain committed to working towards a market-value conservation deal that meets the long-term needs of the university while protecting the forest’s future.

As the fate of the Drew Forest hangs in the balance, the decision by the Morris County Commissioners will have a profound impact on the preservation efforts and the future of this biodiverse woodland.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is the current status of the preservation efforts for Drew Forest in Morris County?

The preservation efforts for Drew Forest are at a critical juncture as Morris County considers a $5 million grant.

Why are preservationists urging the county to double the funding?

Preservationists believe that doubling the funding to $10 million is necessary to have a chance at saving the forest.

Has the county approved the full $10 million grant?

No, the committee responsible for overseeing the grant applications has only approved $5 million at this time.

What are the concerns if the funding falls short?

If the funding falls short, there is a risk that the land could be developed for housing instead of being preserved.

Why is Drew University interested in preserving the forest?

Drew University sees the forest as one of its principal assets and aims to leverage outside resources to ensure its preservation.

What additional funding sources were Madison officials hoping to secure?

Madison officials were hoping to secure additional funding from federal, state, and local sources to cover the market-rate purchase of the entire forest.

What is the role of the nonprofit group Friends of the Drew Forest?

Friends of the Drew Forest is a nonprofit group advocating for the forest's preservation and has gathered over 15,000 signatures in support of preservation.

When is the Morris County Commissioners expected to vote on the grants?

The Morris County Commissioners are expected to vote on the grants at their upcoming meeting.

How has the Morris County Open Space Program contributed to land preservation?

Since 1994, the Morris County Open Space Program has successfully preserved over 17,800 acres of land through funding generated by a county preservation tax approved by voters in 1992.

What are the hopes for additional funding for the project?

Chairman Thomson hopes that the $5 million commitment from Morris County will encourage additional funding from other sources for this significant project.

What is the goal of Madison and Drew University?

Both Madison and Drew University are committed to working towards a market-value conservation deal that meets the long-term needs of the university while protecting the forest's future.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson, a seasoned journalist and USA news expert, leads The Reportify's coverage of American current affairs. With unwavering commitment, he delivers up-to-the-minute, credible information, ensuring readers stay informed about the latest events shaping the nation. Michael's keen research skills and ability to craft compelling narratives provide deep insights into the ever-evolving landscape of USA news. He can be reached at michael@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

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