BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ (Aug, 31, 2018)—Land that was once part of a thriving cranberry bog is now permanently protected, thanks to grant support from the Open Space Institute (OSI) to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF). Permanent protection of the property will safeguard wildlife habitat and clean water flowing into the Delaware River.
Owned by the same family since the Civil War, the 442-acre “Thompson-Wright” property includes 5.5 miles of streams — including the pristine Burrs Mill Brook, a tributary of the Rancocas Creek, which travels through the New Jersey Pinelands and into the Delaware. The creek is the largest tributary of the river from the Pinelands, producing approximately 10 percent of the river’s total flow.
OSI supported the project through its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, made possible with support from the William Penn Foundation, which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin. The Delaware River is the primary water source for the cities of Philadelphia, PA; Trenton, NJ; and Wilmington, DE.
“This is a milestone for the Delaware River, and for the 15 million people who depend upon the river’s unspoiled forests to protect their drinking water,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s Executive Vice President of Capital & Research Programs. “We congratulate the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on this remarkable achievement, which will benefit New Jersey for generations to come.”
Cranberry production on the newly-preserved Thompson-Wright property stopped in 2004, and the land has been naturally reverting to wetlands and pitch pine forest for native wildlife habitat.
Lying within the Forest and Preservation areas of the New Jersey Pinelands, the land is a critical ecological region that supports diverse plant and animal communities. It acts as a stepping stone between the tidal Rancocas Creek and the Atlantic Coast, providing prime habitat for numerous threatened and endangered species and migratory birds.
According to New Jersey Landscape Project data, the land serves as habitat for endangered, threatened and special concern species like bald eagles, timber rattlesnakes, red-headed woodpeckers, barred owls, northern pine snakes, brown thrashers, great blue herons, worm eating warblers, American black ducks and eastern whip-poor-wills.
In addition to the Open Space Institute (OSI), the property was purchased with funding from the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, New Jersey Green Acres Program, Rancocas Conservancy, William Penn Foundation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Victoria Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.