A resolution supporting the friends and family of the late Kathleen Caren, who have online signing of a petition asking the Passaic County Commissioners to consider the renaming of the Apshawa Preserve in memoriam of Caren underway, was on the Township of West Milford Council agenda for passage this week.
Caren passed away on July 19, 2020.
Caren, a longtime resident of the Mountain Springs community in the Apshawa section of the township, worked as open space coordinator for the county and obtained funding for land acquisitions, community gardens, the Wallisch homestead, and recreational and county park facilities, the council resolution notes.
It credits Caren with being instrumental in the county action that was taken to preserve the land currently known as Apshawa Preserve for open space.
The new name suggested by the petitioners for the park is “The Kathleen Caren Memorial Apshawa Preserve.”
The petition states that a champion for the environment was lost with Caren’s passing. Initially she volunteered on the West Milford Open Space Committee. This led to a job in the Passaic County Planning Department as Open Space Coordinator.
“As an artist she always saw the beauty of nature and wanted everyone, no matter where they lived to enjoy a green environment with open space, clean air and clean water,” it states.
Caren is described as an advocate for environmental, social and economic justice. Her log cabin and surrounding land were seen as an intricate palette of paths, native plants and flowers, a pond and living creatures.
“Kathleen was extremely giving to others and loving of the animals she rescued but also could be a force to be reckoned with,” the petition states. “Her convictions were strong but she loved everyone including those she may not have agreed with because she always believed in the ultimate goodness of people. She was a trail blazer who helped municipalities apply for grants for land acquisitions, park and playground improvement and preservation of farms and homes and historic sites.”
During her 16 years with Passaic County she helped towns and non-profits tap into the Passaic County Open Space, Farmland and Historic Trust Fund which annually raises more than $5 million through a special tax.
The petitioners say that renaming the county owned and administered preserve to the Kathleen Caren Memorial Apshawa Preserve would be appropriate since Caren helped to preserve this very land.
It is in walking distance of her home and she was often seen walking her beloved dogs there.