The Skylands of northern New Jersey are marked by sweeping vistas, dense forests, and sprawling farms. Within the Skylands Region, The Nature Conservancy’s Kittatinny Ridge and Valley Priority Conservation Area fosters some of the most ecologically intact wetland complexes in New Jersey.
With large expanses of remarkably intact forest, the Kittatinny Ridge and Valley is dotted with freshwater wetlands, glacial bogs, pristine streams, ponds and lakes. Ecologically important river systems include the Middle Delaware River, the Little and Big Flatbrook, and the Clove Brook.
Priority Watershed Within the Middle Delaware Watershed, the Conservancy has prioritized the Flatbrook Valley for protection because of its ecological importance and the overall threat to conservation from development. The Flatbrook Valley contains the 40,960-acre Flatbrook Watershed.
With 93 total stream miles, this watershed is widely recognized as having some of the highest water quality in the state. The Conservancy’s Little Flatbrook, Nocella Nature, and Mashipacong Bogs preserves are found here and have protected more than 1,200 acres of intact healthy forest and two miles of priority stream corridors.
Home to Rare Plants and Animals
The unique geology of the region supports several globally threatened species, including a stronghold for the federally threatened bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii), as well as dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), and small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides).
It also boasts populations of mammals that rely on large expanses of forest, including black bear, bobcat, and fisher. The region boasts the Earth’s most viable population of Torrey’s mountain mint (Pycnanthemum torrei). Neotropical migratory birds also find habitat in the Skylands, some of the most intact remaining forest in the Northeast.
Threats Facing the Skylands
Residential and commercial development, deer overbrowsing, climate change, and invasive species have been causing increasing amounts of stress to this landscape. Water quality also suffers from increased sedimentation and paving that comes with development.
The Progress: Lasting Results
The Nature Conservancy is working to protect ecologically important habitat in the Skylands to safeguard watershed values and functions for humans and species that rely on clean water.
In the Skylands, we’ve safeguarded nearly 5,740 acres at 13 nature preserves. These special places include the 485-acre Blair Creek Preserve, which helps form an uninterrupted greenway with the nearby 70,000 acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area; High Mountain Park Preserve, 1,260 acres of natural lands in suburban New Jersey and home to the Earth’s most viable population of Torrey’s mountain mint; and Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve, more than 800 acres of limestone forests and fields. Mashipacong Bogs Preserve, a 1,000-acre expanse of forest, was a gift from Doris Duke’s estate and is home to one of the few remaining boreal bogs in New Jersey. Minisink Valley Preserve, 183 acres in the heart of the Kittatinny Ridge and Valley Priority Conservation Area, contains two Category One streams as well as more than a half mile of the pristine Clove Brook.