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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2005

Contact: Erin Phalon or Dana Loschiavo
(609) 984-1795 or (609) 984-1423

DEP REOPENS VISITORS CENTER IN WHARTON STATE FOREST

New Exhibits Featuring Batsto Village Unveiled

(05/81) HAMMONTON -- Following a major expansion and renovation, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today reopened the Batsto Village Visitors Center in Wharton State Forest, unveiling a new exhibition featuring the historic village and natural resources of the Pine Barrens.

“The new visitors center and exhibits will provide more in-depth educational programs regarding Batsto Village, New Jersey's industrial past and the rich resources of the Pine Barrens,” said DEP Deputy Commissioner Joanna Dunn Samson.

The $4 million expansion project included interior renovation of the existing building; the addition of a 100-seat auditorium, public restrooms, a new roof and extended exhibit space; upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems and state-of-the-art museum exhibits.

The Batsto Village Visitors Center also is one of the first state buildings to be renovated using the Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDs) principles.

The new exhibits chronicle the rich history of Batsto Village as well as the rare, diverse plant and animal species of the Pine Barrens region. Batsto Village was a bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867. The village, which is listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, consists of 33 historic buildings and structures including the Batsto Mansion, gristmill, sawmill, general store, workers' homes and a post office.

Wharton State Forest, located in the heart of the federally protected Pine Barrens, is the largest single tract of land owned and administered by DEP. With more than 114,000 acres spanning Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties, the forest offers many recreational activities in addition to its historical attractions.

The forest hosts more than 155 miles of rivers and streams suitable for canoeing and fishing. Wharton State Forest offers more than 500 miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding, including a 50-mile stretch of the Batona Trail connecting Wharton, Brendan T. Byrne and Bass River State Forests. The park also features swimming at the Atsion Recreation Area and more than 50 campsites and cabins for lodging.

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Last Updated: June 21, 2005