Franklin Parker Preserve
This expansive property, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s largest, encompasses 16 square miles in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
It is accessible by a network of sandy roads that wind through pitch pine forest and blueberry fields, and run along the preserve’s cedar swamp, shallow lakes and pristine tributaries of the West Branch of the Wading River. Four trails totaling nearly 21 miles were recently cleared and blazed.
Some are hikers-only footpaths, while others are multi-use trails that are open to bicyclists and horseback riders as well as hikers. In addition, the 53-mile Batona Trail was rerouted through Franklin Parker Preserve – see map. A former cranberry farm, the property was purchased by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation in December 2003 after the owner decided he wanted it to be protected forever as a nature preserve. NJCF began an ambitious fundraising campaign and was able to cover most of the property’s cost.
Watch the video below to learn more. https://youtu.be/UWhHSW3nGtU
In October 2013, a section of restored wetlands was dedicated as the A.R. DeMarco Cranberry Meadows Natural Area in honor of the family whose conservation ethic made the preserve possible. The property is a rare ecological treasure for the East Coast of the United States, containing some of the most beautiful wetlands in the Pine Barrens and providing critical habitat to more than 50 rare, threatened or endangered species.
Wetlands restoration wins Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence >>
View Forest Stewardship Plan >> The Franklin Parker Preserve is adjacent to approximately 250,000 acres of public conservation land in the form of five state-owned properties: Brendan Byrne State Forest, Wharton State Forest, Bass River State Forest, Greenwood Wildlife Management Area and Penn State Forest. The Franklin Parker Preserve contains approximately 5,000 acres of wetlands habitat and 4,400 acres of contiguous upland pine oak forest, as well as 14 tributaries that cross the preserve and eventually unite in the Wading River, one of the most popular sites for canoeing in the Pine Barrens.
The Preserve is the home of several animals that are considered endangered species in New Jersey, including the bobcat and bald eagle.
Several New Jerseys threatened species can be found in the preserve, including the Barred Owl, Northern Pine Snake and Pine Barrens Tree Frog.
Twenty-nine rare plant species have also been discovered in the Preserve, including Pine Barrens Gentian, Bog Asphodel, Curly Grass Fern, Yellow-fringed Orchid, Little Ladies’-tresses Orchid and Pencil Flower.
Read more about the history of the Franklin Parker Preserve and some of the species you can find here >> Read New Jersey Monthly story about searching for pink lady’s slipper orchids >>
Back at Franklin Parker Preserve for some early morning hiking. I got some nice landscape photographs.