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New Jersey

Eldora Nature Preserve


Situated on the southern edge of the Pine Barrens, the Eldora Nature Preserve is the site of the New Jersey Chapter's Delaware Bayshores Office, and was the first nature preserve established by The Nature Conservancy expressly for the protection of rare moths.

The Eldora Nature Preserve's three hiking trails traverse 2.8 miles through a mosaic of wild habitats including mixed hardwood swamps, vernal ponds, salt marshes, wildflower meadows and pine-oak woodlands. The nature preserve also features a boardwalk overlooking the scenic West Creek and marsh, as well as a series of Geocaches that are fun – and difficult – to find.

Past is Prelude

Historically, much of the land that now constitutes the preserve had been farmed, and a house has existed here since 1872. From 1965 through 1981, the dwelling served as the homestead of renowned entomologist and author Dr. C. Brook Worth, who recognized the importance of the site to rare moths and protected the property from insecticide spraying. In 1981, he donated 177 acres to the Conservancy for management as a nature preserve.

Today, after renovations that began in the mid-1990's, Dr. Worth's home is the site of the Delaware Bayshores Office, which is the southern field office for New Jersey Chapter staff.

Southern Pine Barrens Priority Conservation Area

The Eldora Nature Preserve falls within New Jersey's Southern Pine Barrens, identified as a priority for conservation by the Conservancy. The southern extension of the Pine Barrens covers 351,475 acres stretching through Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties. The pristine waters of this area feed both the Atlantic and Delaware Bay marshes and bays. By protecting the Eldora Nature Preserve, which includes massive oak-pine forests and wetlands that filter water reaching the Delaware Bay, the Conservancy is: 

  • Protecting waters that are vital to the local fishing and oyster catching economy;
  • Providing resting, feeding and breeding habitat for vast numbers of waterfowl; 
  • Safeguarding high quality habitat for breeding migratory songbirds;
  • Welcoming striped bass, herring and alewife that return from the ocean each year to spawn in rivers and streams; and,
  • Supporting more than 50 threatened and endangered plant species and more than 40 animal species, including 27 wild orchid species, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and Pine Barrens tree frogs.
Protecting the Southern Pine Barrens

The Conservancy has realized successful land protection projects in the Southern Pine Barrens over the last several years. Our Eldora Nature Preserve, encompassing nearly than 900 acres of preserved land, and Manumuskin River Preserve, the Chapter’s largest preserve at over 3,600 acres, are two examples of significant projects that are ensuring that the biodiversity of the Southern Pine Barrens remains intact for future generations.

Learn more about the Southern Pine Barrens region and how you can help protect this special place by contacting 908-879-7262 or newjersey@tnc.org. 

The preserve is open to visitors from dawn until dusk.

Established
1982

Location
Dennis Township, Cape May County
Maurice River Township, Cumberland County

Acres Protected
899 acres

Eldora has three trails for hiking and a boardwalk overlooking West Creek, great for wildlife viewing.

Plants and Animals
Eldora Nature Preserve supports a variety of endangered and rare moths, butterflies and skippers.  In fact, the discovery of the rare skipper in 1983 at Eldora provides the earliest documentation of the insect in the state.  Barred owls winter at the preserve, and migrating songbirds and hawks congregate in the woods during the spring and fall.

Download the Eldora Preserve Trail Map.

Directions

Download a printable PDF with directions to the Preserve.

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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