Bear Swamp Preserve Land Acquisition Supplemental Environmental Project, Southampton Township, Burlington County, NJ
In December 2015 DEP’s Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement office received a complaint alleging that an unauthorized roadway had been constructed though wetlands and several streams within the boundaries of a wildlife preserve managed by the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust (NJNLT). An inspection confirmed that the activity had been conducted within freshwater wetlands, freshwater wetland transition areas, and within the stream channels and riparian zones of two tributaries to the Bear Swamp River, in violation of the
Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act. The Bear Swamp River and tributaries converge at the western end of the preserve to form Little Creek, which in turn is a major tributary to the Southwest Branch of Rancocas Creek.
During the following year restoration work was successfully implemented, resulting in the removal of fill from approximately 0.60 acre of wetlands and from within the stream channels. A collapsed culvert was removed and large stone was incorporated into the banks of the stream to promote stability. Additionally, seeds were planted in the areas where gravel and fill were removed.
The unauthorized roadway occurred primarily within NJNLT’s 1,023-acre Bear Swamp at Red Lion Preserve and directly impacted resources within the Preserve. As part of the Settlement Agreement, a Supplemental Environmental Project was completed that would provide some compensation for damages to the Preserve. The SEP funds were used to fully fund the acquisition of two tracts of land bordering the Preserve, totaling 15 acres. The 15 acres that were purchased are completely forested and provide buffer protection to the above waters within the core of the Preserve. The Preserve is primarily densely forested wetlands which provides habitat for threatened and endangered species such as barred owls and tree frogs, as well as rare neotropical songbirds.