New Jersey

This Land is Your Land

The Nature Conservancy has long recognized the importance of our public lands. Americans have a deep-rooted tradition of turning to our landscape to sustain and enrich our lives.

Even during times of crisis, including the Civil War and the Great Depression, America’s greatest leaders have been committed to conservation as a means of uplifting our people and healing our nation.

  • President Lincoln authorized California to protect Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove as California state parks  “for public use, resort and recreation" in June 1864 —the same month the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, began.
  • Later that summer, The New York Times called for the establishment of a public park in the Adirondacks.
  • To save a generation of young men as well as our land, President Franklin Roosevelt set the Civilian Conservation Corps to work; in New Jersey the CCC established many of our state parks and forests.

Today, The Nature Conservancy supports policy initiatives such as America’s Great Outdoors and urges a permanent commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Of course, the Conservancy also has a long history of working with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand popular and iconic American places. While the sites below represent only a fraction of our projects in New Jersey, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.

After all, this land is your land.

The Delaware Water Gap

In early 2008, the Conservancy acquired a 91-acre property lying just east of the Delaware River. Purchased on behalf of the National Park Service until federal funding to acquire the property could be secured the following year, the forested property was one of the largest remaining private in-holdings within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area — and had been a long-standing acquisition priority for the National Park Service. The Delaware Water Gap, established as a national park in 1965 by President Johnson, encompasses 40 miles of the Middle Delaware River and 67,000 acres of river valley in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The park contains 100 miles of hiking trails, including 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail, as well as historic villages, scenic waterfalls, river beaches, campgrounds and canoe campsites.

New Jersey Pine Barrens

At over a million acres in size, the iconic forested Pine Barrens cover nearly a quarter of New Jersey’s total land area. Underlain by a series of aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of the purest water in the land, the Pine Barrens supply clean drinking water throughout the region. The Nature Conservancy transferred nearly 4,000 acres to the New Jersey Natural Land Trust’s Crossley Preserve and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Double Trouble State Park. This transfer helped create a corridor of more than 10,000 contiguous protected acres in the Pine Barrens, and provide a crucial buffer to the dense development of the New York City suburbs of northern New Jersey. Both Crossley and Double Trouble offer visitors trails, canoeing and kayaking, as well as interpretive exhibits highlighting the unique natural and cultural history of the Pine Barrens.

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for use as a sanctuary for migratory birds, as well as the conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resources, and for the conservation of wetlands. In 1989, The Nature Conservancy provided the first piece of land for the creation of the refuge – and has since helped protect close to 1,500 acres through ten separate land deals. The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge offers many trails for bird watching, and is ranked in the top ten birding hot spots in North America.

Milford Bluffs

The Nature Conservancy and The New Jersey Natural Lands Trust partnered to protect the scenic Thomas F. Breden Preserve at Milford Bluffs in 1995. The preserve is famous for its breathtaking views of the Delaware River; visitor amenities include a parking area, trails, and a bluff with excellent views overlooking the river. While the Conservancy transferred its interest in the Bluffs to the Trust in 2008, the Delaware River remains a conservation priority; through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation The Nature Conservancy has been working with partners to develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the Delaware River Basin.

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

The 47,000-acre Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is one of more than 500 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Nature Conservancy purchased and subsequently transferred nearly 4,000 acres to the Refuge in the 1970’s. The refuge shelters about 30 percent of the Atlantic Flyway’s population of wintering black ducks and Atlantic brandt. Receiving more than 200,000 visitors each year, the Refuge protects and manages 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats for migratory birds and provides outstanding opportunities for recreational activities involving fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation.