BEDMINSTER, NJ - Raritan Headwaters announced this week that Candace McKee Ashmun of Basking Ridge, a longtime land conservationist who had previously served with the Upper Raritan Watershed Association, and George Cassa of Tewksbury Township have both been named to the watershed protection organization's Board of Trustees.

Ashmun had already served in the 1960s and 1970s as both a staff member and board member at Upper Raritan Watershed Association, one of the predecessors of Raritan Headwaters. Raritan Headwaters was created in 2011 through the merger of Upper Raritan Watershed Association and South Branch Watershed Association.

“Candy and George both have extraordinary experience and expertise in the conservation field, and we’re honored that they have agreed to serve as trustees,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based Raritan Headwater. “This is actually not Candy’s first time on our board."

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Ashmun's land conservation efforts extend beyond the Somerset Hills. The Candace McKee Ashmun Preserve, 4,000 acres in Ocean County on the eastern edge of the New Jersey Pinelands, was named in her honor in 2010, according to the Far Hills-based New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which owns and manages the preserve.

Ashmun has been a member of the state Pinelands Commission since its founding in 1979 and is the last original commissioner still serving, according to the N.J. Conservation Foundation. She was the founding director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), served on the N.J. State Planning Commission, and was a longtime volunteer for N.J. Conservation Foundation.

Ashmun grew up in Oregon and graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1946, the same year she moved to New Jersey, according to information from Raritan Headwaters. In the late 1960s, she chaired the Bedminster Township Environmental Commission and accepted a water-quality testing job with Upper Raritan Watershed Association (URWA).

During her years at URWA, Ashmun served as researcher, trustee and an active participant in efforts to stop inappropriate development proposals.

Over decades, Ashmun built a reputation as one of the state's most respected conservationists. She was a key player in the preservation of the Great Swamp, chairing the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Agency's Great Swamp Advisory Committee.

Ashmun served several terms on the N.J. State Planning Commission, according to Raritan Headwaters. In 1975, she became the first executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), and later served three terms as board president.

Ashmun is currently vice chair of the Fund for New Jersey, and a trustee for the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Environment.

Cassa is past trustee and president of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition

Tewksbury Township resident George Cassa, a lifelong New Jersey resident, graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a degree in marine engineering and worked in the ship design field for over 40 years. He received a master’s degree in management science from Steven Institute of Technology.

Cassa was a trustee of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, where he chaired the Land Use committee.

Cassa is a past trustee and president of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, where he also represents the Alliance for Historic Hamlets, an advocacy group that he co-chairs in Hunterdon County.  George has served on the Tewksbury Township Scenic Roads and Bridges Commission for several years.  He is co-owner of a fly fishing shop in Califon.

Raritan Headwaters is the largest watershed protection organization in New Jersey. Under its original name, Raritan Headwaters began working in 1959 to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through efforts in science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship.

Raritan Headwaters' 470-square-mile region has the goal of providing clean drinking water to 400,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties and beyond to some 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey's densely populated urban areas. 

Raritan Headwaters won the the N.J. Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2015 and 2016 in the category of Water Resources. 

To learn more about Raritan Headwaters and its programs, visit www.raritanheadwaters.org or call 908-234-1852.