Ocean County will purchase plots of land in Lacey and Plumsted townships through its Natural Lands Trust following a vote Wednesday by the county’s freeholder board.
The Lacey purchase is located off Route 9, north of the Oyster Creek Generating Station, adjacent to the Wawa store and Caffrey’s Tavern. The one acre plot, which is being purchased for $135,000, will be used as a parking area and trail head for the Barnegat Branch Trail which runs through much of southern and central Ocean County and is slated to expand northward to Toms River.
The plot is also situated near a pond that is a branch of the Forked River, Freeholder John P. Bartlett said, and county officials are inquiring with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if the site could be opened up for the public to use as a kayak access point.
The 167 acre Plumsted Township purchase, county officials said, is located adjacent to about 1,000 additional acres bordering Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The $425,000 price was lower than two appraisals that had been completed and is nearly completely surrounded by other plots preserved in the Natural Lands Trust, farmland preservation program and by private preservation groups.
“We’ve done appraisals and we’re very satisfied with this price,” said Bartlett. “This is a major chunk in the farmland part of Plumsted Township, and 50 years from now, it will look like it does today.”
Should the federal budget eventually include allocations for reimbursement through Department of Defense encroachment fund purchases, the county would be eligible, Bartlett said.
The Natural Lands Trust is funded by a 1.2 cent preservation tax paid by all county residents.