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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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Freshwater Wetlands - Application Guidance
Expansion of Cranberry Growing Operations in the Pinelands (General Permit 23)

  • Overview
  • Application Guidance
  • Rules
  • FAQ

Cranberry HarvestGeneral Permit Number 23 (GP23), conditionally authorizes expansion of existing registered cranberry growing operations in the Pinelands area, where just about all cranberry growing within NJ is conducted. It is peculiar in that it has a fixed review period of January and February of each year, and all growers applying for expansion are to minimize wetlands disturbance on-site by choosing a location according to a preferred habitat hierarchy.

A maximum of 10 acres may be requested by a single grower, but a maximum of 60 acres may be disturbed in any given year. In the event several growers are in competition for the limited 60 acres of disturbance that can be awarded each year, the growers with the preferred locations according to that hierarchy will be favored for approval.

Growers receiving a permit are required to mitigate for new disturbances by surrendering an amount of Pineland Development Credits (PDC’s) based on the relative value of the habitat(s) to be disturbed for bog construction. The funds derived from the sale of surrendered PDC’s are targeted to be used for Atlantic White Cedar restoration projects within the Pinelands.

There are 45 or so registered cranberry growing operations within the Pinelands that are eligible to apply for this GP. Someone potentially wanting to establish a new growing operation would need to apply for an Individual Permit for disturbing a large area of naturally vegetated wetlands for initial bog cell construction, and to further assess additional impacts when stored surface water supplies for the new operation likely raise groundwater levels over an even wider area.

Note: The Department has, for your convenience, developed an Application Checklist for General Permits. Please follow carefully the requirements as outlined on this checklist to insure that you have all of the required information necessary to complete and process your application.

A direct link to the rules cited in our standard approval letter under "Permit Conditions" for this General Permit can be found below.

7:7A-5.23 General permit 23 - Expansion of Cranberry Growing Operations in the Pinelands

7:7A-4.3 Conditions that apply to all general permit authorizations

7:7A-13.1 Standard conditions that apply to all permits

7:7A - Index to the entire rule.

Please Note: The Department has made every effort to ensure that the text of this regulation is identical to the official, legally effective version set forth in the New Jersey Register. However, should there be any discrepancies between the text on this web site and the official version of the rule, the official version will govern. For more information on obtaining official versions of the rules, How To Get a Paper Copy of Department Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see an answer to your question below, please use the Land Use Contact form on this website. We will make every attempt to answer your question as promptly as possible.

Q: What is the hierarchy of preferred wetland types for cranberry growing expansion?

Q: How is disturbing up to 10 new acres of wetlands per grower considered to have minimal impact, as per the scope of activities examined under a freshwater wetland GP?

Q: What is the importance of Atlantic White Cedar?


Q: What is the hierarchy of preferred wetland types for cranberry growing expansion?

A: Open water areas and abandoned agricultural wetlands are the preferred locations for bog cell expansions, followed by the natural wetland vegetation types of emergent, scrub-shrub, forested and Atlantic White Cedar forest, in that order.

Q: How is disturbing up to 10 new acres of wetlands per grower considered to have minimal impact, as per the scope of activities examined under a freshwater wetland GP?

A: Historically, both expansion of and abandonment of cranberry growing areas have provided habitat diversification and renewal, and may contribute as much to the ecology and uniqueness of the Pinelands ecosystem as essential periodic fire events. Nearly 10,000 acres were once under cranberry cultivation as opposed to about 3,000 acres presently. In that context, 10 acres of wetland alteration (no loss of wetlands) is deemed a minimal impact.

Q: What is the importance of Atlantic White Cedar?

A: It is a commercially important wood species commercially harvested over decades without much natural replacement. Preserving and replacing Atlantic White Cedar is also deemed important to keeping the unique character of the Pinelands.

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Last Updated: May 21, 2014