Garden Club Visits NJ Pinelands Commission

Photos by Andrea Apruzzese (Click on photos to enlarge)

On Thursday, October 5, 2023, in the first of series of three planned trips to the NJ Pinelands, Garden Club members and some guests, 18 in all, visited the Richard J. Sullivan Center for Environmental Policy and Education of the NJ Pinelands Commission.

The group was treated to an excellent program on the Flora and Fauna of the Pinelands, presented by Joel Mott, Principal Public Programs Specialist, State of NJ Pineland’s Commission. Joel provided historical background on the 1.1 million acre Pinelands which in 1978 received the nation’s first such designation, as a national reserve. The following year, the Pinelands Protection Act became law, the Pinelands Commission was formed and it was set forth how to preserve the lands.  An integral part of the Pinelands’ history is how natural resources gave rise to important industries, such as bog iron, glass, shipbuilding, and charcoal, not to mention blueberry and cranberry production.

Joel pointed out that the key to the Pinelands is water as they sit atop a 17.7 trillion gallon aquifer. Public lands include parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wetlands, streams, and military installations.  There are also private lands within the 1.1 acres. He shared that the Pinelands, often called the Pine Barrens, are a botanical treasure and an animal oasis.

Following Joel’s presentation, members were directed outside where Paul Leaken, Communications Officer, guided them to both the Rain Garden, made up of 100% native Pinelands plants,  and the Bog Garden, where members got to see many of the Carnivorous Plants of the Pinelands.  Both he and Joel directed members to where there is extensive information on cultivating Jersey friendly yards. Joel then brought those who could stay on over to the Brendan Byrne Forest for a hike on the Wetlands Loop of the Cranberry Trail.

As a token of the Garden Club’s appreciation, Mr. Mott was presented with a donation to the Kathleen M. Lynch-van de Sande Fund for the Reforestation of the New Jersey Pinelands.  Ms. Lynch was a Pinelands Commission Environmental Specialist who passed away in 1989.