Pinelands Creek Headwaters Protected

The Trust for Public Land today announced it has acquired and donated to the state of New Jersey 413 acres in the Pinelands, which will help protect drinking water and provide more recreation for local residents within this vast network of forests, marshes and wetlands in south-central New Jersey.

The 413 acres includes the Bear Swamp Creek headwaters in Tabernacle and Southampton Townships. The site was purchased for $600,000 from a private owner and donated to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, where it will be added to the Bear Swamp at Red Lion Preserve.

"Our mission is to protect land for people and this is a great example of that because it protects drinking water, and also provides more land for recreation for people in New Jersey," said Anthony Cucchi, NJ state director of The Trust for Public Land.

The Pine Barrens sits atop the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, which provides drinking water for as many as one million New Jersey residents. But the largely rural area faces the threat of development, and new homes and businesses could negatively impact the aquifer.

The money for the $600,000 purchase came from a variety of public and private sources, including the Pinelands Commission’s Pinelands Conservation Fund, the Open Space Institute (through the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund), the Rancocas Conservancy, New Jersey’s Green Acres Program and the Victoria Foundation.

"The Pinelands Commission is pleased to continue to advance efforts to permanently preserve land in the Pinelands," said Nancy Wittenberg, the Commission’s Executive Director. "Thus far, the Commission has contributed a total of $8.7 million from the Pinelands Conservation Fund toward the permanent preservation of 7,700 acres in the Pinelands. Through our latest round of acquisitions, we are working to permanently protect an additional 2,600 acres."

The Bear Swamp project was also supported through the Open Space Institute’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, which is made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Initiative seeking to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin.

"Unspoiled forests, when kept that way, recharge the aquifer to help protect the water supply for millions of residents living in the Delaware River Watershed,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president of the Open Space Institute. “This project showcases the value of innovative conservation partnerships in protecting and maintaining the invaluable Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer.”

The 413-acre property was added to the Bear Swamp at Red Lion Preserve, which is owned and managed by the State of New Jersey’s Natural Lands Trust. As Michael Catania, Trust Chair, stated, "The NJ Natural Lands Trust is delighted to accept the ownership of this parcel as an addition to our Bear Swamp Preserve." The preserve is now almost 1,500 acres, all of which is open from dawn to dusk for the public.

Robert Hofstrom, Vice-President, of the Rancocas Conservancy said, "The Rancocas Conservancy is pleased to partner with The Trust for Public Land on the acquisition of this land. This parcel not only protects the headwaters of a stream that feeds into the Rancocas Creek, but it contains magnificent stands of old-growth Atlantic white cedar."