A deal has been struck to preserve 835 acres of the North Jersey Highlands with a conservation group, federal, state, county and local governments paying the $4.6 million price.

New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says the purchase of the Jefferson Township tract will expand the Rockaway River Wildlife Management Area and provide land for parks to be run by Jefferson Township.

He also heralds it an example of Gov. Chris Christie's commitment to the region in the northern part of the state.

The Sierra Club's New Jersey branch has criticized Christie's administration for not doing enough to ensure protections of an area.

The federal government is paying $1.9 million and the state $1.6 million to buy the land. The Trust for Public facilitated the deal.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)