Wednesday, July 30, 2014

At Birthday #350, Some New Jersey Firsts

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

New Jersey celebrates its 350th anniversary and Michele Byers did a post on New Jersey "firsts." You might know that Thomas Edison did the first phonograph, incandescent light bulb and the first motion picture projector. (The first town in the world to be lighted with overhead wires was Roselle, NJ.)

Lesser known firsts include NJ claiming the first cultivated blueberries, developed by Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville in the Burlington County Pine Barrens in 1916. They are our state fruit.

But the part that caught my eye were 4 first in the area of parks and conservation.
  1. The Morristown National Historic Park, where George Washington's troops spent the winter of 1779-80, is America's first historic park. 
  2. The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge includes the first federally-designated wilderness area east of the Mississippi. 
  3. The New Jersey Pinelands are America's first and only national reserve. 
  4. The Essex County Park System was the first in the country.

At the Morristown National Historic Park
 That's important for this first and only state where all counties are classified as metropolitan areas and we rank an unenviable first in population density in the U.S. (with an average of 1030 people per square mile).

That leads to another first, one that’s not so exciting and fortunately has not yet happened. New Jersey is on track to become the first state to reach full build-out, the point where all land is either preserved or developed. It’s crucial to keep saving parks and open spaces so when the Garden State does reach build-out, most if not all of our most critical lands are preserved rather than paved.

For more information about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at

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