Washington Township Conservation Easement Program
There are different types of easements allowed within Washington Township . Easements are a means for accessing someone's property for purposes such as a public utility pipeline, township storm sewer or a driveway for a land locked neighbor. Another type of easement is for conservation which protects the habitats of plants and animals.
A habitat is the natural home of a plant or animal and provides the needs for survival. Some plants and animals can adapt to changes in their habitat but for many, change means certain death. Once their habitat disappears they may not find food that only grew or existed under the conditions created by the habitat. Also shelter or the necessary elements needed to reproduce and raise young can disappear and thus prevent their completing the life cycle.
Washington Township is made up of many diverse habitats which include:
Each of these habitats is unique and thus creates the setting for unique inhabitants. Also, the interaction of all these habitats contributes to the watershed and creates a situation which enables other animals to exist.
One example is the wild trout fishery which exists in many of our waters. Trout are sensitive to high water temperatures and will perish once the water temperatures reach the mid 70 degree range. Our streams are tree lined, which shades the water, and fed by limestone springs which provide a constant source of cold water. Both of these factors enable trout to survive in our streams while in other parts of New Jersey the fish has disappeared.
Our quality stream conditions also promote the growth of aquatic insects like Mayflies, Caddisflies and Stoneflies. All are an important source of food for fish, birds, and mammals. These animals in-turn become a food source for other animals like Kingfishers, Herons, Osprey, Hawks, Owls, Falcons, and numerous mammals, including Man.
Protection of these areas through the use of Conservation Easements will help shoulder the load of protection where existing environmental laws fall short. The continued urban expansion in our area requires this action.
CONSERVATION EASEMENTS - CONTIGUOUS SPACE
Part of the Master Plan for Washington Township addresses the contiguous space issue. The township's goals are to create greenbelts or continuous natural areas which will allow protection of species on a broader scale than is possible with existing consJanuary 16, 2009 with other areas, like wetlands or steep slopes, can help create contiguous spaces.
The advantage of these areas:
CONSERVATION EASEMENTS - LOCATION
If you have a Conservation Easement, it should appear on your plot plan and in your deed. If you do not have your plot plan, you can check the town's master lot and block plan at the Municipal Building . The easement will appear as a dotted line and is marked as "Conservation Easement". Not all lots have Conservation Easements.
CONSERVATION EASEMENTS - HOMEOWNER PROTECTION ISSUES
Conservation Easements are meant to protect the natural beauty of our community. There are some guidelines to follow if you have an easement.
Be aware of non-point source pollution. Non-point source is as its name implies, you can not pinpoint the single source of contamination but many sources which can come from different areas. An example are lawn fertilizers and pesticides (including herbicides), which can be washed away from the applied area by a sudden storm and be deposited into a Conservation Easement by the onrush of storm waters.
Too much fertilizer in a water course can cause excessive algae growth. Ever notice the green slim which grows on the surface of stagnant ponds? This is an algae bloom. The bloom will stop light from entering the pond and thus kills bottom growing water plants. When algae blooms die, their composition uses up oxygen in the water. The lack of oxygen will suffocate aquatic organisms within the pond, like fish, tadpoles and insects.
CONSERVATION EASEMENTS - MARKERS AND INSPECTIONS
Markers will eventually be applied to all Conservation Easements. The marker is a small sign approximately 3"x3" and will be attached to existing trees or posts. At this time inspection of Conservation Easements is not undertaken but a plan will be implemented in the near future. Check with the Washington Township Environmental Commission or the Washington Township Land Trust