85 acres added to New Jersey preserve in Delaware River watershed
| August 21, 2023
An addition of 85 forested acres to the Menantico Creek Preserve in Cumberland County, N.J., in the Delaware River watershed will offer space for recreation as well as protect wildlife and water quality, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation announced.
The acquisition was completed in June after the American Littoral Society purchased the acreage, known as the Feigenbaum property, on Panther Road in Vineland, N.J., for $302,000, using money from the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Cumberland County and the Open Space Institute.
The property was then transferred to the sole ownership of the foundation, which acquired the Menantico Creek Preserve’s original 600 acres in 2018.
“Thanks to this great partnership, the Menantico Preserve now stands at 685 acres of protected open space,” said Rob Ferber, the foundation’s regional manager for the Delaware Bay Watershed. “The preserve is near population centers in downtown Vineland and Millville, and we’re creating a trail system to make it a valuable resource for the community.”
The Menantico Creek Preserve features 2.2 miles of the Menantico Creek and its tributaries — part of the federally designated Maurice Wild and Scenic River system. The creek is one of the main tributaries of the Maurice River, which flows into the Delaware Bay.
The newly acquired property, which is immediately to the south of the original preserve, has a high conservation value, as it has never been clearcut for farming.
Its old-growth forest provides habitat for bald eagles, barred owls and red-headed woodpeckers. In addition, its dense system of tree roots and undisturbed soil filters out pollutants, helping to recharge the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, Southern New Jersey’s main source of clean drinking water.
“We need to protect the land to protect the water,” said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society. “The Littoral Society continues to work in the Delaware Bayshore area because preserving open space will not only help save forests and wildlife habitat, but also improve water quality rivers in the bay and its tributaries.”
Before the Feigenbaum property could be approved for Green Acres funding, illegally dumped materials on the land had to be removed.
In April, more than 20 volunteers organized by Jason Howell of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance removed enough trash to fill a 30-yard dumpster. Nearly 20 tons of asphalt that had been illegally dumped were also removed and properly disposed of, along with tires and other materials.
The addition of the property is the second expansion of the Menantico Creek Preserve supported through the Open Space Institute’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin.
The fund is made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative.
Started in 2014, the fund has protected more than 21,000 acres of forested land to filter the Delaware River Watershed, a source of drinking water for approximately 14 million people — including residents of Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington and New York City.
“The Open Space Institute is extremely proud of our role in supporting the expansion of Menantico Creek Preserve, whose floodplain forest and wetlands are instrumental in safeguarding sources of clean drinking water within the Delaware River Watershed,” said Bill Rawlyk, the institute’s mid-Atlantic field coordinator.
“The Green Acres Program was thrilled to participate in this important acquisition partnership,” said Martha Sullivan Sapp, director of Green Acres. “Preserving this property ensures the continued protection of wetlands and forested areas, both of which are critical to mitigating the effects of climate change.”