The state has reached a tentative agreement with a developer that would allow the construction of a Walmart store on 21 acres of Pinelands off Route 37 on the Toms River and Manchester border.
The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday said the agreement calls for the permanent preservation of 212 acres of forest near the store site an attempt to enhance pine snake habitat that would be adjacent to the property.
Large-scale development of the 212 acres is already constrained by Pinelands and endangered species regulations and the proposed agreement would preserve the land as undeveloped forest.
Under the agreement, Jaylin Holdings would construct five hibernacula, or den areas, thin sections of forest canopy to create sunny areas snakes need for basking, create upland forest clearings for nesting, and block access to limit human activity that may stress snakes.
N.J. DEP tentatively agrees to allow Walmart store in Pine snake neighborhood