The Real Nature of New Jersey
For all its highways and neighborhoods and silly television shows, New Jersey at its heart is defined by its beautiful lands and waters. The same holds true for New Jersey residents, whose real nature is passion for protecting our wildlife and great outdoors—now and for future generations.
Aerial view of bobcat alley. © Jim Wright/The Nature Conservancy
Land and Wildlife
Protecting Open Space
For the most densely populated state in the U.S., New Jersey truly values its unspoiled nature. Our forests, meadows and mountains safeguard our drinking water, provide spectacular recreation and sustain the wildlife we love. As New Jersey continues to grow, we must act now, while there is time, to preserve the lands that will quite literally shape our future. The Nature Conservancy has set the bar to conserve 5,000 acres of land in New Jersey by 2020, including 3,500 acres in “Bobcat Alley,” a 32,000-acre corridor between the Highlands and Appalachians that will help give state-endangered bobcats a better chance of survival here. We are also leading a statewide collaboration to catalyze the protection of an additional 70,000 acres through a “shared vision” blueprint of priority lands.
Columbia Dam © The Nature Conservancy
Rivers and Streams
Protecting Our Drinking Water
Drinking, cooking, washing and growing food—our lives depend on water. But dense development in New Jersey directly affects our water supply. More than 85% of our rivers and streams are impaired due to factors like erosion and polluted stormwater runoff. Obsolete dams disrupt fish migration and the natural flow of rivers.
To safeguard our precious water resources, we must protect and restore our local rivers, streams and the land that surrounds them. The Nature Conservancy’s plan includes restoring 75 miles of New Jersey’s rivers with a focus on the Paulins Kill, our state’s third largest tributary to the Delaware. We plan to plant 50,000 trees in the river’s floodplains, restore degraded habitat at the headwaters and remove the Columbia Dam to improve water quality and reconnect American shad with their historic spawning grounds.
Gandy's Beach oyster growth. © The Nature Conservancy
Protecting Our Beloved Shoreline
More than 1.5 million people live in New Jersey’s coastal regions, and millions more visit each summer. As beloved as the Jersey Shore is, it is equally vulnerable to erosion, flooding and sea level rise. Natural habitats like marshes, dunes and reefs—the foundation of our coastline—are also some of our greatest defenses against these challenges. Too often, however, poor planning or weather events have compromised or degraded the natural systems that protect our coastal communities. The Nature Conservancy is working with New Jersey shore towns to harness nature’s protective benefits as a way to combat damage from rising seas and unpredictable storms. We are testing innovative ways to use nature, like oyster reefs and living shorelines to slow down waves, and spreading sediment to raise drowning marshes, to develop replicable models that coastal communities can consider in their battles with the elements. Bonus: restored natural areas also provide great recreation opportunities for people and habitat for wildlife!