From the Lenape term meaning “Endless Mountain,” the Kittatinny Ridge’s mountains and adjacent valleys are a mosaic of ecosystems — from unfragmented hardwood forests to valleys with unique bogs and fens, to the great freshwater complexes of the storied Delaware and Hudson rivers. The forests that cover these mountains are but a vestige of the continuous forest that once covered the whole of the eastern United States. Nevertheless, they are part of the largest remaining temperate deciduous forest on Earth.
Introduction and Threats
The Kittatinny Ridge runs from New York through the northwestern corner of New Jersey, and south through Pennsylvania. As our understanding of this landscape evolves through scientific study and sound conservation planning, it has become clear that it is the long term health of the entire system of forests and streams that is critical to truly achieving lasting conservation of the Kittatinny range.
Remarkably, the Kittatinny Ridge has managed to avoid most of the impacts of uncontrolled development, thanks to a combination of foresight, philanthropy, and the unforeseen benefits of an ill-conceived public works project.
The Nature Conservancy has embarked on an expanded mission to conserve and restore the integrity of the forest and freshwater systems that will enable animals, such as the bobcat and the fisher, to return in sustainable numbers to the Kittatinny.
Plants and Animals
Both the Kittatinny Ridge and Delaware River are important migratory bird routes. Every autumn, thousands of individual raptors representing sixteen different raptor species are reported atop the ridge’s forested slopes. These hawk flights are some of the most historic and internationally important raptor migrations in North America.
The Kittatinny Ridge is home to 143 breeding bird species, 55 fish species, 49 species of amphibians/reptiles, 83 butterfly species, 78 dragonfly/damselfly species, 292 woody plant species, 19 plant communities, and 33 mammal species including black bear, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, and coyote. A large number of state rare species (19 vertebrate animals, 15 invertebrate animals, 28 plant species, and 12 communities) are also found within the Kittatinny Ridge.
Species of particular interest include black bears, bobcat, coyote, Allegheny woodrat, various salamanders (Jefferson, blue-spotted, spotted, marbled, longtail, and four-toed salamanders), timber rattlesnake, and wood turtle.
Avian species include black-throated blue warbler, blue-winged warbler, cerulean warbler, golden-winged warbler, Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, prairie warbler, wood thrush, worm-eating warbler, Henslow’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, and sedge wren. A rich diversity of dragonfly and damselfly species is reliant on the protection of high quality water in the streams and the retention of the surrounding healthy landscape context.
The Nature Conservancy maintains several nature preserves within the Kittatinny Ridge and Valley.
To learn more about specific preserves you can visit in the Kittatinny area contact the Conservancy at (908)879-7262.
For directions to specific preserves in the area please contact The Nature Conservancy at (908) 879-7272