Forest pools, headwater streams and one of the healthiest freshwater marshes in the state have been preserved with a 177-acre purchase of land from the Diocese of Camden.
The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey closed on the purchase this summer — launching a plan to protect 493 acres of habitat over the next few years.
“This property faced significant development pressure,” said Robert Allen, Director of Conservation Programs for The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.
The property contains vernal pools that are critical for amphibian breeding, wetland areas that provide bird habitat and the headwaters of Bear’s Head Branch, a tributary of the Manumuskin River, Allen said.
The Nature Conservancy selected the Manumuskin River area, home to more than 30 rare plant and animal species, as a “signature land project” — an effort to use limited funds efficiently during the present economic downturn, by focusing efforts on protecting ecosystems of statewide significance. The project will include portions of the Cumberland forest, an oak-pine community that protects freshwater wetland and provides migratory bird habitat, as well as lands within the Manumuskin River drainage.
The property neighbors the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area, which is well-known by birders as prime habitat for migrating warblers, tanagers and vireos.
The first phase, with a cost of just over $700,000, was supported by a matching grant from the State’s Green Acres Program as well as ongoing private fundraising. Ultimately, the Conservancy must secure in excess of $2 million over the next three years to preserve the full 493 acres of habitat.
“Working with other community organizations to conserve lands that local people have long valued is an important strategy for accomplishing the Conservancy’s mission of preserving biodiversity for people and for nature,” said Barbara Brummer, New Jersey State Director for The Nature Conservancy.
Since 1955, the Nature Conservancy has protected more than 50,000 acres in the Garden State, much of which was preserved with partial funding from the Green Acres Program.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey
(610) 834-1323, x103