MORE THAN 5,000 ACRES IN GREAT EGG HARBOR WATERSHED PRESERVED
Land deal links tens of thousands of acres of preserved Pinelands and coastal habitats
The Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation Resources, Inc., has preserved 5,079 acres of woodlands and wetlands in Atlantic County's Great Egg Harbor River watershed at a cost of $9.7 million.
The DEP's Green Acres program finalized two related land purchases in January 2013, securing 4,970 acres from Lenape Farms and 109 acres from HBH Associates. The more than 5,000-acre project, one of the largest state preservation effort in years, helps link together more than 56,000 acres of previously existing state wildlife management areas, plus thousands of additional acres of county parkland in an area where the Pine Barrens meets a coastal estuary ecosystem.
The property flanks U.S. Route 50 in Estell Manor. The bulk of the property, known as Lenape Farms, contains large expanses of forested uplands that merge into coastal marshlands. The preserved property is now part of a state wildlife management area, providing hunting, fishing, hiking and bird watching opportunities for the public. It will also protect headwaters of Steven's Creek, Gibson's Creek and Mill Creek, which are tributaries to Great Egg Harbor River.
The newly acquired land, which had been used as a private hunting game preserve since the early 1900s and was privately managed for forestry and wildlife purposes for many years, is now the Lenape Farms unit of the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area. The public can access the property by foot immediately as the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife develops and implements a management plan, which will include formal trail development.
The property provides habitat for a number of wildlife species, including the barred owl, northern pine snake, Pine Barrens tree frog, Cooper's hawk, timber rattlesnake, Cope's gray tree frog, bald eagle, red-headed woodpecker, black rail, osprey, black-crowned night heron and diamondback terrapin.
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