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The Pine Barrens, or more correctly The Pinelands National Reserve, is an amazing part of New Jersey.
Some Pinelands facts:
- It covers over a million acres.
- It includes 800,000 acres of forest and 60,000 acres of farmland.
- It is home to many rare animals and dozens of rare plants, including some found nowhere else on Earth.
- The highest point in the Pine Barrens is the fire tower on Apple Pie Hill in Wharton State Forest.
- The Pine Barrens comprise the largest surviving open space along the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine's great forests.
What is hidden from view but very important is the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir beneath the Pinelands that holds 17 trillion gallons of clean, fresh water. The aquifer provides more than 35 billion gallons of water per year to residents, farmers, businesses, and industry in southern New Jersey.
The National Parks and Recreation Act and New Jersey's Pinelands Protection Act were enacted in 1978 and 1979, respectively and these laws created a system of regional planning, with all development governed by a Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and a mandate to protect the region's natural resources. A central goal is to safeguard the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer by protecting the forests that collect and cleanse rainfall.
A 15-member Pinelands Commission oversees and implements the Comprehensive Management Plan, which designates conservation and growth zones and applies stringent environmental standards.
Threats to the Pinelands include underground gas pipeline proposals, contamination of the aquifer by nitrogen runoff in developed areas, saltwater intrusion into the aquifer from pumping too much freshwater, and the destruction of forests and habitats by illegal or improper off-road vehicle use.
The Pine Barrens are a New Jersey treasure and a global treasure that was designated a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Biosphere Reserve.
Pinelands Preservation Alliance website www.pinelandsalliance.org
NJ Pinelands Commission www.state.nj.us/pinelands
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