The Elwood Corridor encompasses the western half of Atlantic County and is a vital habitat for many rare and endangered wildlife and plant species, including the Pine Barrens Treefrog, Northern Pine Snake, Red-headed woodpecker and Pickering’s morning-glory. Its preservation is essential to ensure that the entirety of the Pine Barrens can continue to function as one, intact ecosystem. The largest natural area on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, the New Jersey Pine Barrens is a heavily forested area covering 1.1 million acres and its underground aquifers contain 17 trillion gallons of the purest drinking water in the country.
The Pinelands Protection Act created New Jersey’s Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, which protects the area’s largely intact and healthy ecosystem. The plan created a Preservation Area where very little development is permitted, surrounded by a carefully planned land use system which allows various degrees of development.
The Elwood Corridor is an ecologically critical strip of forest that connects the northern Preservation Area and the southern Pine Barrens. The Pine Barrens plan identifies the Elwood Corridor as very important, but because it is crossed by three major east-west highways and is dotted with existing villages, the plan protects only a narrow portion of the corridor. As a result, the Elwood Corridor faces significant development pressure.
Preservation of the Elwood Corridor will enable a vital migratory linkage between the northern Pinelands Preservation Area and large protected tracts of forest lands to the south. New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its preservation partners have worked to enhance this conservation linkage – stepping stones of habitat – by preserving comparatively small nature preserves, strategically located throughout western Atlantic County. These forested areas will allow most plant and wildlife to continue to effectively disperse, colonize and migrate north and south between Cape May and Burlington Counties.
Just a few of the noteworthy preservation projects that have taken place in the Elwood Corridor are the 337-acre Dorothy Preserve in Estell Manor City, the 167-acre Bear Creek Preserve in Egg Harbor City and the 138-acre Hanselman Preserve in Galloway Township. Those interested in experiencing this unique region should consider visiting the Dorothy Preserve and hike the nature trail. Along the trail you will see our 28-acre, solar-powered deer exclosure project that is enabling a young Atlantic white-cedar forest to reestablish itself.
To learn more about NJCF’s preservation work in the Pine Barrens, please contact Stephanie Monahan, Pine Barrens Regional Manager, at 1-888-LANDSAVE (1-888-526-3728) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Michele S. Byers,