Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 28
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
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Environmental Grant to Support Inventory of Natural Resources

Linda Arntzenius

Members of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough voted last Wednesday, July 4, to accept a matching grant from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) for an inventory of Princeton's natural resources.

The inventory will be the first in almost three decades and will be conducted with the help of consultant Christopher Linn of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).

The DVRPC will offer a $2,000 subsidy to the $12,000 project, matching a portion of the $6,000 ANJEC grant. Each of the municipalities will contribute $2,000.

ANJEC promotes public interest in natural resource protection, reclamation, and sustainable development. The private non-profit educational organization supports local environmental commissions through programs funded by foundations as well as state contracts.

The grant will be used to create an Environmental Resource Inventory, a list of Princeton's important natural resources: geology, soils, rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, aquifers, farms and forests, wetlands, wildlife habitat, and public open space.

Borough resident and member of the Joint Princeton Environmental Commission Steve Hiltner took the lead in applying for the ANJEC grant.

A natural resources manager for Friends of Princeton Open Space, Mr. Hiltner has degrees in botany and water quality.

"The last inventory was in 1978 before Geographic Information Systems and computer mapping, so we felt that it was time to gather currently available documentation for consolidation into one document.

"This is important for future planning and development and provides an opportunity to compile a biological inventory, too."

Mr. Breithaupt, chair of the Joint Princeton Environmental Commission, which oversees the protection, development, and use of natural resources in the Township and Borough, said that the grant provides an opportunity to compare the old inventory of 30 years ago with a realistic assessment of how things are today. "Princeton residents have expressed concern about the tremendous development in the Princeton ridge area that conflicts with the Princeton Master Plan," he said. "This inventory will be a useful tool for meetings of the Site Plan Review Advisory Board and in discussions of the Master Plan."

While much of the information will already be available in some form, said Mr. Hiltner, the task will be to track it down and bring it together into one document. The first step will be to find all existing plant and tree inventories that may be in the files of groups such as the Shade Tree Commission.

According to Mr. Hiltner, besides land use, vegetation, and wildlife, the inventory could well reveal changes in the local ecology due to invasive species and deer grazing. He said the commission hopes to complete the inventory by March 2008.

Princeton's Environmental Commission holds regular public meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, except for August.

The next meeting will take place on July 25, at 7:30 p.m., in Room A of the Municipal Complex, 400 Witherspoon Street.

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