Creek / Mantua Creek Watershed
Gloucester & Camden Counties
The Big Timber/Mantua Creek Watershed covers parts of northern Gloucester and southern Camden counties. The two creeks and their tributaries flow through dozens of communities, draining into the Delaware River southwest of Camden.
Big Timber Creek is surrounded on three sides by acres of freshwater,
tidal wetlands that are an important resource for many wildlife
and plant species. The creek flows through 28 communities beginning
in Washington and Winslow townships and ending in West Deptford
in Gloucester County and Gloucester City in Camden County. The creek
has nine tributaries, six major lakes and 25 waterway miles with
the main stream forming the county line between Gloucester and Camden
counties. Farmland and forest surround the headwaters, but are rapidly
becoming suburbanized. The lower part of the creek, which is the
most urbanized, is tidal and contains a large estuary that provides
important habitat for wildlife.
Mantua Creek and its two major tributaries, Edwards Run and Chestnut Branch, drain over 50 square miles of Gloucester County. From its headwaters near Glassboro, Mantua Creek flows northwest for 18.6 miles to the Delaware River at Paulsboro. In its upper reaches, the creek flows through gently rolling, wooded terrain marked by a number of small lakes. Further downstream the creek flows through a relatively broad, flat valley which is part of the creek's floodplain. It finally flows through low, tidal marshland from the New Jersey Turnpike to the Delaware River.
Only a few decades ago, a large part of the flood plain of Mantua Creek was rural, wooded and undeveloped. Much of the area was devoted to farming with scattered residential homes throughout the flood plain. However, much of the watershed has been developed in recent years.
Development has been most concentrated near Pitman and downstream, where Mantua Creek passes through developed areas of Deptford, West Deptford and Mantua Townships. Further downstream, development of the flood plain increases in Paulsboro, where residential, commercial and industrial development can be found on or near flood plain land. This area is adjacent to low, tidal marshland that is susceptible to flooding from high water flowing down Mantua Creek.
Saving the Big Timber/Mantua Creek Watershed
The Big Timber/Mantua Creek Watershed provides habitat for cormorants, egrets, great blue
herons, loons and osprey. Many species of fish are found in the
creeks, including Atlantic shad and herring, largemouth and striped
bass, yellow and white perch, American eel, carp, chain pickerel,
channel catfish, sunfish and tiger muskie. Snapping, box and painted
turtles are also found in the creeks, as well as freshwater clams
and crayfish. Many wildflowers can be found in the area, particularly
New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its regional preservation partners have protected some
180 acres of natural lands and natural resources in the Big
Timber/Mantua Creek watershed.
In 1987, the New Jersey Department of Environmental
Protection recognized the Big Timber Creek as one of the most polluted water
bodies in New Jersey. Over the last two decades much of the industry-caused
pollution has been corrected and water quality has been improved
in many areas, but the watershed continues to be threatened by the
environmental impacts of development.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Old Pine Farm Natural Lands Trust have partnered since
the 1990s and together created the Old
Pine Farm Preserve, a 36-acre urban greenway in Deptford, which
provides the community with an ideal place for passive recreation
and nature study. Old Pine Farm is one of the few remaining natural
and protected areas along the highly developed, tidal section of
Big Timber Creek. The area features grassland savannas, hardwood
forests and a thick maple swamp. We also worked with Deptford
Township and the state Green Acres program to create the 18-acre
Big Timber Creek Park in Deptford. Another noteworthy preserve is the 42-acre Andaloro Wildlife Management
Area, also in Deptford Township.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the South Jersey Land and Water Trust have partnered since the 1990s, preserving the 46-acre Lodge Farm on the Mantua Creek in West Deptford Township, as a state Wildlife Management Area. Another noteworthy Mantua Creek project is the 34-acre Kammerer Farm, preserved as a municipal park. We are currently working to preserve an additional 112 acres of woodlands, meadows, ponds and streams along and near the Mantua Creek.
For more information on our work in the Big Timber/Mantua Creek Watershed project
area, please contact Delaware Bayshore Regional Manager Francis Rapa at 856-823-1021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.