The Pinelands National Reserve consists of approximately 1.1 million acres in southern New Jersey. It represents 22% of the state's total land area and includes portions of seven counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Ocean), and all or parts of 56 municipalities.
In the center of America's most populous region lies over a million acres of forests, farms, and scenic towns -- the New Jersey Pinelands.
The Pinelands is a patchwork of pine oak forests, tea-colored streams and rivers, spacious farms, crossroad hamlets, and small towns stretched across southern New Jersey. In the country's early years it had been a place where fortunes were made from lumber, iron and glass. But the early industries died out, and as the state's major roads bypassed the area, the "Pine Barrens" gradually became known as a remote part of New Jersey abounding in local legends like the "Jersey Devil".
About 25 years ago, as the full weight of postwar urban sprawl came to bear on other parts of New Jersey, the path of Pinelands history forked again. Would the Pinelands become the locale of grandiose development projects, such as a jetport and a city of a quarter million, or would the region's value come to be based on its open spaces, natural features, and traditional lifestyles, which uncontrolled development would damage or obliterate?
It took years of study and debate before the choice was made. But gradually the realization set in that the Pinelands was an environmental asset of national and international importance, deserving safeguards to divert the flow of growth from metropolitan Philadelphia, northern New Jersey, and New York. Nearby Atlantic City's casino gambling boom crystallized awareness of the need for Pinelands development controls.