A charitable gift of more than $227,500 given by Georgetown-based J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co. to the state of Delaware Open Space Program will help fund future land preservation efforts in Sussex County. The donation fulfills its pledge to donate $1,050 per acre from the state of Delaware’s purchase of 216 acres of forestland from the firm; the lands are now part of the 12,255-acre Redden State Forest.
The purchase highlights the latest chapter in what has become a beneficial partnership between the public and private sectors: one of the existing Redden State Forest tracts is already named the J.G. Townsend Tract in honor of former Delaware governor and U.S. Sen. John G. Townsend - an important figure in the political and agricultural history of the First State.
“We are very grateful to the board of directors of J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co. for allowing us to conserve this important forestland for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of Delaware residents,” said Michael A. Valenti, Delaware’s state forestry administrator.
“This large donation to Delaware’s Open Space Preservation Fund will directly support our state’s conservation efforts in the immediate future. It’s also equally important to acknowledge the unfailing support of the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, which has provided well over $14 million to help protect almost 3,000 acres as part of the Green Horizons Project,” Valenti added.
The 216-acre acquisition marks one of the latest phases in the Delaware Forest Service’s long-range effort to permanently protect working forests in Sussex County before they are converted to other uses. The $1.54 million acquisition was purchased with $1.15 million from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program and $385,000 from the state’s open space preservation fund.
The forestland will be managed by the Delaware Forest Service for a variety of public benefits, including wildlife habitat, timber production, water quality, hunting and recreational opportunities.