Pristine rivers and streams, massive oak-pine forests, wetlands and extensive water-driven natural systems speak to the great natural diversity of the southernmost reach of New Jersey’s famous Pine Barrens.
Here, where increasing development pressure emanates from Atlantic City and threatens this critical area, The Nature Conservancy has acquired four properties. Located along a headwater tributary of the Tuckahoe River — which winds its way to the Great Egg Harbor River and Bay through an expanse of salt marsh and tidal creeks — these lands serve as the foundation for the Conservancy’s new Head of River Preserve.
Significance of Head of River Preserve
New Jersey's Pine Barrens are among the world's natural wonders, covering more than 1.1 million acres and protecting acquifers that contain an estimated 17 trillion gallons of fresh water. Long recognized as having international significance, the New Jersey Pine Barrens is the most extensive undeveloped area between Boston and Washington.
Threatened and endangered plant and animal species depend on the southern Pine Barrens' clean waters and oak-pine forest. A vast number of waterfowl and migratory songbirds find resting, feeding and breeding habitat, and striped bass, herring and alewife return here from the ocean each year to spawn.
Head of River Preserve, located just miles from Atlantic City, expands New Jersey's conservation efforts into a new focus area. It will serve as an important step in stemming the threat of residential development to this fragile landscape.
With your help we can protect the Head of River Preserve and other places in New Jersey and around the world for people and nature.
Threats to Head of Rivers
The southern extension of the Pine Barrens was identified in the New Jersey Chapter’s Strategic Conservation Plan as the Southern Pine Barrens Priority Conservation Area. This area is one of four special places statewide that have been categorized as being at the highest risk of development and of the highest priority for long-term conservation.
The new preserve is located within the lower third of the Southern Pine Barrens Priority Conservation Area, in an area — the Weymouth Focus Area - determined to be a top priority for land protection, not least because of a number of “paper” roads that are ripe for paving, an increasing number of sprawling residential developments, and significant growth of commercial development along main roads.
The Conservancy's project is in an area where development could have a major impact on the protected lands nearby. Protection here will retain a movement corridor for terrestrial species that runs from the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area, owned and managed by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in the west to the protected lands along the Great Egg Harbor River in the east.
What lives at the Head of River preserve? Find out!