DEP GREEN ACRES PROGRAM PRESERVES 130 ACRES
OF DELAWARE BAYSHORE WETLANDS
(04/26) TRENTON - Emphasizing
the importance of preserving New Jersey's wetlands, Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today announced the acquisition of a 130-acre salt
hay farm on the Maurice River in Commercial Township, Cumberland
County. The property, which the DEP Green Acres Program
acquired from a private owner at a cost of $75,000, serves
as habitat for a diverse resident and migratory bird population.
"Our Administration has worked hard
to make New Jersey a national leader in environmental protection,"
said Governor James E. McGreevey. "The 130 acres along
the Maurice River is just one example of how we're protecting
environmentally sensitive areas, farmland and open spaces
throughout the state. By placing these lands 'off-limits,'
we will build a better New Jersey for our children and generations
"Two years ago, Governor McGreevey
enacted legislation that established the protection of water
resources and lands with endangered or threatened species
habitat as high priorities under the DEP Green Acres Program,"
said Commissioner Campbell. "The acquisition of this
salt hay farm reflects DEP's commitment to pursuing those
priorities. By purchasing this land, the State of New Jersey
will preserve critical wetlands, protect the vital water
resources of the Maurice River and ensure that a diverse
bird population's habitat remains healthy for future generations."
The 130-acre parcel contains approximately
113 acres of coastal wetlands, 11 acres of freshwater wetlands
and six acres of uplands. The preservation of this property
will enable these wetlands to continue to provide critical
natural resource services to New Jersey residents. Wetlands
filter out chemicals and pollutants from drinking water,
release stored floodwater during droughts and provide flood
control by soaking up runoff from heavy rains and melted
For several generations, the property has
been farmed for salt hay, which is used to produce garden
mulch and packing material. The parcel is predominantly
a healthy salt marsh hay habitat and includes salt meadow
hay, spike grass, black rush and highwater cord grass. The
portion of the property that is located at a higher elevation
level is dominated by early successional species including
Sweetgum, Red Maple, and other native species. Remnants
of an earthen dike surround the land.
Like much of the Delaware Bayshore area,
the property is rich in bird life. The salt hay farm provides
habitat for resident and migrant waterfowl, shorebirds and
neo-tropical passerines for breeding, feeding, nesting and
resting including the endangered northern harrier, egret,
heron, clapper rail, and redwing blackbird. The property
is a nesting habitat for one of the largest black duck populations
along the Atlantic Flyway.
The acquired property lies in an oxbow
formed by the federally designated Wild and Scenic Maurice
River, which connects the Pineland National Reserve and
the Delaware Estuary. The Maurice River and its tributaries,
the Manamuskin, the Muskee, and the Menantico, drain the
southern portion of the Pinelands National Reserve. The
Maurice River is also an important habitat for endangered
species and plant life. It supports 53 percent of the New
Jersey's non-marine endangered animal species and the largest
stand of wild rice in the state.
Since Governor McGreevey took office, the
Green Acres Program has acquired 54,688 acres of open space
- 34,226 acres for state projects, 10,615 acres for local
projects and 9 847 acres for nonprofit groups. To date,
the Green Acres Program has protected more than 535,877
acres of open space and provided funding to develop hundreds
of parks statewide. The statewide system of preserved open
space and farmland totals more than 1.25 million acres.
DEP's Green Acres program purchases land
to protect environmentally sensitive open space, water resources
and other significant natural and historical open space.
Land acquired becomes part of the statewide system of parks
and forest, wildlife management areas and natural areas.
DEP is also committed to providing parks
and outdoor recreation facilities, urban wildlife preserves,
and quality open spaces in cities, suburbs, and other developed
communities throughout the state.
For more information about the Green Acres
program, visit the website at www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres.