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The Nature Conservancy prides itself on protecting great places like Maurice River Bluffs Preserve. Located along the 35.4-mile “Wild and Scenic” Maurice River, the 525-acre preserve gets its name from the majestic bluffs overlooking the river. The preserve provides crucial stopover habitat for migrating and breeding birds, including songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors like nesting osprey and bald eagles. The nature preserve also hosts productive freshwater ponds and unique plant communities, including some of New Jersey’s largest contiguous wild rice marshes. The preserve is a freshwater haven for the many species of odonates who make their home here.
The Cumberland Forest: A priority for conservation
Maurice River Bluffs Nature Preserve falls within New Jersey’s Cumberland Forest Priority Conservation area. Centered in Cumberland County, the area’s large, intact oak-pine forest harbors an incredible natural variety of rare plants and communities, rare reptiles and amphibians and an array of migrating and breeding birds.
Located less than 50 miles from Center City Philadelphia, the Cumberland Forest, while being one of the most rural areas in the state, is also one of the fastest growing and has emerged as one of the Conservancy’s top priorities for land acquisition. This area has one of the lowest levels of regulatory protection while still having availability to public infrastructure. This lack of protection, combined with an increasing market demand, results in a condition of being among the areas in New Jersey most threatened by development.
The Wild and Scenic Maurice River: Providing freshwater for people and nature
The Maurice River corridor is an unusually pristine Atlantic Coastal river with nationally and internationally important resources. Its clean waters and related habitats are vital to the migration of shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, rails and fish. The river supports New Jersey's largest stand of wild rice and 53% of the animal species that New Jersey has recognized as endangered, excluding marine mammals.
The Conservancy’s Maurice River Bluffs Nature Preserve encompasses 4.5 miles of river frontage along the Maurice River, providing a buffer from encroaching development which threatens the water quality of the river. Rivers like the Maurice provide clean drinking water for surrounding communities. By preserving the health of land around rivers and lakes, we can keep pollution out of our water.
The Maurice River is a critical link between the Pinelands National Reserve and the Delaware Estuary, both nationally and internationally important. The Maurice River corridor serves as the western boundary of the Pinelands and includes the cities of Vineland and Millville, and the townships of Maurice River, Commercial and Buena Vista.
Take a virtual tour of the wild and scenic Maurice River Bluffs Preserve to see wildlife and habitat.
Maurice River township,
The 5.2 mile trail system features a 35-foot long bridge, steps and rails throughout the steeper parts that make the trails accessible to all levels of hikers, multiple benches and picnic tables, and a bird blind overlooking the river. This enclosure allows visitors a “bird’s eye view” of various waterfowl and eagles in their natural habitat without disturbing them. Visitors to the preserve can also take advantage of the visitor kiosk, stocked with interpretive information and large trail maps. All enhancements were made by staff and volunteers entirely with recycled materials.
As one of New Jersey’s most visited preserves, the Maurice River Bluffs provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including five established trails. The nature preserve is also home to a floating dock and offers an unobstructed view of two bald eagle nests, as well as many benches and picnic tables which provide scenic spots for observation and relaxation.