Heart of the Pine Barrens
Heart of the Pine Barrens
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 National Reserve was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. America’s first National Reserve, the Pine Barrens account for 22 percent of New Jersey’s land area covering portions of seven counties and 56 municipalities.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation has been active in land preservation in the region for over three decades and owns and manages more than 12,000 acres in the Heart of the Pine Barrens, including the Franklin Parker Preserve, the Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve and the Evert Trail Preserve. New Jersey Conservation Foundation is continually seeking opportunities to expand its Pine Barrens preserves and is working with local organizations to promote eco-tourism.
Restoring a Pine Barrens Jewel
In 2003, we purchased the 9,400-acre Franklin Parker Preserve, the largest private land conservation acquisition in state history. Today, we own and manage the 14-square-mile property in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Adjacent to 250,000 acres of state preserved lands, the preserve is home to sandy roads that wind through pitch pine forest, blueberry fields, shallow lakes and pristine streams. The property is available for passive recreation and can be accessed by the public from points along County Routes 563 and 532.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation has initiated several important projects to enhance public access and to restore the Preserve to its original wetlands state. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and New Jersey Conservation Foundation launched a wetlands preservation and restoration project at the Franklin Parker Preserve – the largest NRCS Wetlands Reserve Program project in the Northeast. We are collaborating on the restoration of 1,100 acres of cranberry bogs and blueberry fields that have been altered by historic agricultural practices.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is also partnering with several public and private organizations to restore approximately 150 acres of Atlantic White Cedar forest, which is vital habitat for many threatened and endangered species. The project is particularly important since 80 percent of the Pine Barrens’ cedar swamp have been lost to non-sustainable timbering practices.
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,