The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey Protects Our Lands and Waters

Many of NJ's natural wonders, and our access to them, would not exist without the work of the New Jersey chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit.

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve
Maurice River Bluffs Preserve in Millville is one of the flagship preserves run by the New Jersey chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Photo: Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Situated beyond New Jersey’s city streets and suburban sprawl is a bounty of natural beauty. Our forests, lakes, rivers and Shore are assets to residents and visitors alike.

Many of our state’s natural wonders, and access to them, would not exist without the work of the New Jersey chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a nonprofit established in 1951 that works to conserve land and water, improve life, and address climate change and biodiversity in more than 70 countries.

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TNC began its work in New Jersey in 1955, and its priorities continue to be our coasts, rivers, land and cities, which all benefit nature, critters and human life. Some of TNC’s biggest projects include working to plant more trees in Newark, which helps to reduce urban heat, and building and maintaining Bobcat Alley to provide a protected wildlife corridor for endangered bobcats to move safely between the Kittatinny and Highlands ridges within the Appalachian Mountains in New Jersey.

Year-round, TNC works across the state to “ensure that we don’t lose some of the characteristics of New Jersey that are so important,” says New Jersey state director Barbara Brummer, who has been leading New Jersey’s team for 20 years. TNC is a 501c3 nonprofit that is funded by private donors, foundations and public grants. TNC in New Jersey currently has more than 25,000 members.

But the best way to get involved, Brummer says, is to get outside and experience nature for yourself, which can also be a great way to improve personal health.

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Brummer recommends visiting any of New Jersey’s flagship preserves, which are run by TNC and offer a wonderful chance for residents to get out in nature. They are South Cape May Meadows Preserve, Garrett Family Preserve at Cape Island Creek in Lower Township, Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve in Middle Township, Maurice River Bluffs Preserve in Millville, Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve in Warren and Sussex counties, Blair Creek Preserve in Stillwater and Hardwick townships, and High Mountain Park Preserve in Wayne and Passaic counties.

Special features and experiences abound at the preserves. At the Garrett Family Preserve, a haven for migrating birds, raptors, bumble bees and butterflies; there’s even a monarch-butterfly statue people can pose in front of to look like a butterfly with big, orange wings. From the top of the Summit Trail at High Mountain Park Preserve, there are incredible views of the New York City skyline and North Jersey.

TNC is working on improving accessibility at all of its preserves, including South Cape May Meadows, an internationally known birding spot and the most visited preserve in New Jersey. A fully ADA-compliant, wheelchair- and stroller-accessible boardwalk trail will allow all visitors further access when it opens within the year.

“I want people to appreciate the natural wonders that we have in New Jersey,” Brummer says. “One way to do that is to take a look at the kinds of work we’re doing and support our efforts to protect this wonderful state we’ve all chosen to live in.”

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