[permaculture] Fwd:The New Jersey Pinelands - A Natural Treasure

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Fri Jun 22 12:39:52 EDT 2007

*The New Jersey Pinelands:*
*A Natural Treasure*
Featuring some of the largest unbroken tracts of forest in the Eastern
U.S., the New Jersey Pinelands is a truly special place. Its vast
unbroken forests of pine, oak, and cedar make the
Pinelands the largest tract of open space on the mid-Atlantic coast, yet
it is found in the most urbanized state
in the nation. Here a visitor can search shady cedar swamps for the rare
curly grass fern or hike
through a forest of “pygmy” pines no taller than a man. Slow moving
streams fed by a huge underground aquifer system supply the marshes and
bays of southern New Jersey with some of the cleanest drinking water in
the world. In 1978 and 1979 Congress and the State of New Jersey passed
legislation to protect the Pinelands and its unique natural and cultural
resources. The 1.1-million-acre Pinelands, which covers portions of
seven counties in southern New Jersey, is our country’s first National
In 1983, the Pinelands was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by the U.S.
Man and the Biosphere Program and the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization. This designation means, simply,
that the Pinelands is an example of the world’s major ecosystem types.
The Pinelands is underlain by aquifers containing 17 trillion gallons of
some of the purest water in the land – enough water to cover all of New
Jersey 10 feet deep and equal to nearly half the water consumed each
year in the United States. Wetlands compromise approximately 35 percent
of the Pinelands National Reserve, including Atlantic Cedar swamps,
hardwood swamps, pitch pine lowlands, savannahs and coastal marshes.
Approximately 277,000 people live in the Pinelands Area,
which encompasses 1,449 square miles or 19 percent of the total area of
New Jersey. More than 50 percent of the
land is now permanently preserved. Eighty-four percent of New Jersey’s
total forest area is located in the  inelands. Residents and visitors
alike marvel in the subtle beauty of the expansive mosaic of pine and
oak forests that dominate the landscape, including the 15,000 acre Pine
Plains, a unique stand of dwarf, but mature, pine
and oak trees. The Pine Plains make up the most extensive pygmy pine
forest of its type in the United States.
Wildlife abounds throughout the Pinelands. Eight-hundred and fifty plant
species and nearly 500 animal species can be found in the region,
including dozens of rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal
species, which are afforded special protection in the Pinelands. The
Pine Barrens tree frog, a species that is widely associated with the
unique natural history of the Pinelands, is found in very few places
outside the Pinelands. The area is noted by botanists worldwide for its
unique native flora. The region boasts 27 species of wild orchids, several
insect-eating plant species and some plant species that are currently
found nowhere else. More than two dozen
sites in the Pinelands are listed in the National Register of Historic
Places, including restored historic villages and settlements, town
historic districts, and historic structures and ruins. Agriculture is a
key part of the Pinelands economy and is recognized in the federal and
state Pinelands legislation as an industry of special significance. With
nearly all of the State’s cranberry and blueberry production located in
the Pinelands, New
Jersey traditionally ranks among the top producers of cranberries and
blueberries nationally. Vegetable farming, fruit orchards, roadside
produce stands, horticulture, nursery, viticulture/ winemaking are all
major components of the Pinelands agricultural industry. Other important
or traditional economic activities include
forestry, sand and gravel mining and shellfishing. The Pinelands offers
abundant recreational opportunities,
including canoeing, kayaking, camping, hiking and biking. Two Pinelands
river systems are part of the National
Wild and Scenic River System: the Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and R
e c r e a t i o n a l River and the
Maurice National Scenic and Recreational River. On average, there are
approximately one million visits to state forests in the Pinelands each
year. A kayaker paddles on the Batsto Lake in the Pinelands. Photo/Paul
The colorful Pine Barrens tree frog is a threatened animal species that
lives in the Pinelands.
Photo/John Bunnell Swamp Pink, a threatened plant species, grows in the
Pinelands. Photo/John Bunnell
Historic buildings at the Batsto Village in the Pinelands. Photo/Paul
Leakan Pinelands farms produce about 40 million pounds of cranberries
each year. Photo/John Bunnell

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