Thousands of acres in an Ocean County wilderness area will never be developed thanks to a land donation, officials announced.
The 3,100 area consists of wooded uplands and wetlands in Lacey Township adjacent to what is commonly referred to as the “Forked River Mountains” tract, where the county purchased and preserved 8,000 acres earlier this year, Ocean County Freehold Director Virginia E. Haines said.
“This donation is not only adjacent to the largest tract we have acquired under the county’s open space program but it is also one of the most environmentally sensitive tracts we have purchased under our Natural Lands program,” she said. “With this donation, more than 11,000 acres which straddles Lacey Township and Waretown will remain in its natural state. This type of land preservation is what this program is all about.”
The donation also includes an $112,613 endowment from The Nature Conservancy for property maintenance, Haines said.
The adjacent Forked River Mountains area includes a ridge that rises to a peak of 187 feet above sea level, streams, and lowland forests.
Rare and threatened wildlife and plant species include the Pine Barrens gentian and reedgrass, curly grass fern, Kniesekern’s beaked rush, New Jersey rush, bog asphodel, swamp pink, northern pine snake, timber rattlesnake and the Pine Barrens tree frog, according to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.