OSI in the New Jersey, continued

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

New Jersey

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Every year New Jersey adds nearly 16,600 acres of new development while losing more than 9,600 acres of farmland, 4,200 acres of forest, and 2,600 acres of wetlands. At this rate, New Jersey will be the first state in the nation to reach build-out.  Often known of for its tough cities, polluting industries and miles of developed beach resort areas, it’s not surprising that New Jersey’s natural beauty is sometimes overlooked. It’s true that of all the states in the nation, New Jersey ranks 47th in land area, but tenth in population, yet much of New Jersey’s landscapes are surprisingly diverse and unpopulated, from the northern Appalachian Highlands and Great Swamp to its flat sandy eastern coastline and the biologically diverse Pine Barrens in the south.

New Jersey has been known as the Garden State since 1876, when a man named Abraham Browning coined the term, comparing New Jersey to “an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and the New Yorkers from the other.” Its massive urban neighbors have continued to grow in size and impact since then, but on the Delaware bay shore, farmers and fisherman still harvest food for their neighbors, and most of New Jersey’s farms remain small family operations that average about 86 acres, making the state one of the top ten producers of cranberries, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, sweet corn, and tomatoes. Many of these crops fill farm markets in nearby New York City and Philadelphia.

Across the small state, natural ecosystems abound. Along the Barnegat Bay Watershed, fresh and saltwater combine to create a productive aquatic environment. Fourteen endangered or threatened species find refuge in the region. The Pinelands provide a distinctive habitat for more than one thousand species of plants and animals while its cranberry and blueberry bogs support the local economy. Birdwatchers travel to the southern tip of Cape May to watch raptors migrate each fall, and in the forests of the Highlands, which cut a wide swath across the state’s northwest corner, 350,000 acres provide drinking water to more than half of New Jersey’s residents.

  • One-third of the state’s land has already been developed, and another fifth is protected park and farmland, leaving nearly half the state still vulnerable to expanding development. 
  • Although it is the third most productive farm state in the Northeast, farmland in the state is steadily declining, from 26,900 farms in 1950 to 8,100 in 1990.

Recreational Resources in New Jersey





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