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Delaware River Watershed Aquifer Protected by Open Space Institute Project

Photo Credit: New Jersey Conservation Foundation

VINELAND, NJ (August 16, 2018) – One of the largest remaining pieces of open land in a tributary of the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer has been permanently preserved by New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), with support from the Open Space Institute (OSI). The successful preservation project will protect rare plant and animal habitat while further safeguarding drinking water within the greater Delaware River Watershed.

NJCF and Cumberland County purchased the “Menantico Creek” property, located in Menantico Preserve, for $1.17 million, and will permanently preserve the land in its natural state. The Preserve’s forests provide significant groundwater recharge to the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, which supports rare habitat while holding 17 trillion gallons of fresh water that supplies the needs of millions of South Jersey residents, farmers and businesses.

The project was supported through OSI’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund. The Fund is made possible with support from the William Penn Foundation from its Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin.

“When kept intact, unspoiled forests are the most effective method for cleaning the drinking water of the Delaware River Watershed’s 15 million residents across four states,” said Peter Howell, Executive Vice President at OSI. “The Open Space Institute applauds the impressive coordination of multiple funding partners, including federal, state, county and private nonprofits, for this amazing conservation triumph.”

“We’re excited to establish the new Menantico Preserve,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of the Far Hills-based nonprofit. “This property is less than five miles from downtown Vineland and a short distance from downtown Millville. Together, these two cities have a population of nearly 90,000 residents and a real need for more public open space.”

The property is home to at least seven endangered, threatened and special-concern animal species, including bald eagles, red-headed woodpeckers, barred owls and Cope’s gray tree frogs. Its interior forests provide breeding habitat for many migratory Neotropical songbirds, including ruby-throated hummingbirds, scarlet tanagers, yellow-throated warblers and Acadian flycatchers.

The preserve also features 2.2 miles of the Menantico Creek and its tributaries, part of the federally-designated Maurice Wild and Scenic River system. The Menantico Creek is one of the main tributaries of the Maurice River, which flows into the Delaware Bay.

NJCF plans to establish trails, parking and river access over the next few years to turn the preserve into a destination for hikers, dog walkers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

In addition to OSI, funding for the purchase came from a public-private partnership that includes the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Cumberland County, the William Penn Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Natural Lands.

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