9400 Acres Preserved in Burlington County
NEW JERSEY - The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) has made the largest private land conservation deal in New Jersey history by exercising its option to purchase a 9,400-acre property located in the Pine Barrens in Burlington County.
A.R. DeMarco Enterprises has agreed to sell the ecologically significant property near Chatsworth, New Jersey, to NJCF at a bargain sale price of $12 million. NJCF has raised $5 million towards the purchase price and will fund the $7 million balance with loans to be paid off over five years.
“In just 11 months NJCF raised $5 million in private funds to purchase the DeMarco property, an unprecedented accomplishment,” said NJCF Board President Sam Lambert. “Supporters from across New Jersey – and the country – are helping NJCF take advantage of the best Pinelands conservation opportunity in a generation.”
An ecological region of international significance, the 1.1 million-acre Pine Barrens stretch across 22 percent of New Jersey. Designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1988 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Pine Barrens contain the largest swath of open space on the mid-Atlantic seaboard between Boston and Richmond.
The DeMarco property has 1,500 acres of reservoirs and thousands of acres of wetland and upland forests, including 600 acres of Atlantic white cedar swamp. It connects five state-owned properties: Brendan Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest), Wharton State Forest, Bass River State Forest, Greenwood Wildlife Management Area and Penn State Forest. Fourteen tributaries of the West Branch of the Wading River originate on or pass through the property. The land has exceptional habitat for native and endangered species, including bald eagles and the unique Pine Barrens tree frog.
NJCF will manage the property as a nature preserve to provide passive recreational opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers and other visitors, and enhance habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species by restoring the former agricultural areas.