Former Girl Scout Camp Preserved Forever as Open Space

Image Credit: Brett Cole

MEDIA, PA (July 20, 2017)—Land used for generations as a Girl Scout Camp is now officially part of New Jersey’s Cohansey River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), thanks to Natural Lands, the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Open Space Institute (OSI) and other partners.

The entire 417-acre property — formerly known as the Sheppard’s Mill Girl Scout Camp — is now open to the public for hiking, birdwatching, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hunting, and trapping. Located in Hopewell and Greenwich Townships, Cumberland County, the parcel was purchased for $1,263,000. 

The addition of the Sheppard’s Mill property brings the size of the Cohansey River WMA to 1,474 acres.

“This groundbreaking project shows the promise of innovative public-private partnerships in protecting natural lands for public use and enjoyment,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president of OSI, which funded the purchase through its Bayshore Highlands Fund. “For generations, Sheppard’s Mill has connected young people to this wonderful landscape. OSI is proud to have partnered in the protection of this significant and storied property, and prouder still to pass it along to the citizens of New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) purchased the property from the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey, contributing $1,028,000 towards the purchase from the Green Acres State Land Acquisition Program. Natural Lands received an additional $235,000 for the project through OSI’s Bayshore Highlands Grant Fund, which is made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation. The Bayshore Highlands Fund seeks to accelerate strategic land conservation in the New Jersey Bayshore and the Pennsylvania Highlands.

Ecotourism is a growing industry in New Jersey, especially in places such as the Delaware Bay region, where nature lovers converge to watch migrations of shorebirds; birds of prey such as eagles, osprey, and hawks; and even butterflies and dragonflies. The Delaware Bay region is home to the state’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles, and is a critical stopover for migrating shorebirds.

“We are very happy to preserve this land for use by a wide variety of wildlife species, including various types of waterfowl, shorebirds, bird of prey, and wading birds,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “The Delaware Bay region is truly a special place, remarkable for its beauty and opportunities for diverse wildlife-related activities, including hiking, fishing, hunting, and bird watching.”

This property was historically used as a Girl Scout Camp and contains an approximate 52-acre lake, several stream corridors, and a densely forested area with a hilly terrain, offering a variety of wildlife habitats, including those for Bald Eagles. The parcel also contains many existing trails and paths that traverse the property.

“The Girl Scouts are thrilled that the Sheppard's Mill property is now part of the natural resource treasures of New Jersey,” said Ginny Marino, CEO for Girl Scouts of Central and Southern NJ, Inc. “For decades, girls were able to explore all the wonders of the property when they attended camp and now those wonders will be preserved for generations to come."

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