Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Nature Conservancy in NJ

Since 1955, The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey has protected more than 56,000 acres.

Their first project preserved 500 acres of one of New Jersey’s last old growth forests at Hutcheson Memorial Forest in Somerset County.

The Chapter now focuses on species and natural communities at risk in three program areas across the state. The program areas have projects in the Skylands, the Delaware Bayshores and the Pine Barrens.

In the Pine Barrens, they have safeguarded nearly 3,400 acres at four nature preserves.

These special places include the 520-acre Oswego River Preserve which spans diverse natural communities, Forked River Mountain Preserve, 1,740 acres linking neighboring protected lands to form an impressive greenway, and the Berkeley Triangle Project, a donation from a developer of nearly 4,500 acres, now protected and open to the public.

The Pinelands, which are not barren at all, spans more than one million acres. It is the most extensive undeveloped area on the eastern sea-board between Boston, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia.

The region harbors the largest example of pitch pine barrens on Earth as well as globally rare pygmy pine forests. These fire-shaped landscapes rely on natural fire regimes or ecologically prescribed burns to survive.

Mixed pine and oak forests and Atlantic white cedar swamps also thrive here, as well as many threatened plants and animals including curly grass fern (Schizaea pusilla) and pine barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii).

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