At the heart of Delaware Bay Watershed’s farm belt region lies
the Mannington Meadows of Salem County, a 6,000-acre complex of
wetlands and tidal waters that provide globally significant migratory
bird habitat and interface directly with the agricultural landscape.
For more than a century, local farmers, diked and drained the meadows
to farm the rich bottomland below. However, during the middle of
the 20th century, agriculture lost the battle to hold back the water
after levees were breached by storms.
Today, the Mannington Meadows serve as an oasis for water-dependent
wildlife. The surrounding farmland, along with its woodlands, grasslands
and wetlands, enhances the overall habitat values of the region.
The meadowlands and surrounding farm fields annually host tens of
thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and raptors.
It is a state stronghold for bald eagles and has one of the greatest
concentrations of American black ducks found anywhere.
In spite of many initiatives to protect the Meadows, they are not
immune to the long reach of suburban sprawl. Surrounding communities
have built thousands of new homes and commercial buildings over
the past decade, and more have been proposed. The Meadows were granted
a reprieve with economic downturn and stagnant housing market, but
it is only a matter of time before the threats of sprawl return.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Mannington Meadows project
area focuses on preserving this unique region, where some of New
Jersey’s most productive farmland and some its most important migratory
bird habitat come together.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s flagship land preservation
project in the Mannington Meadows is the recent acquisition of the
476-acre Fichera Farms in Mannington Township. Read
more about it >
Thanks to a combination of farmland preservation and Green Acres
funding, we plan to establish a model preserve to demonstrate the
intricate relationship between farming and natural resources in
the region and promote sustainable farming. The portion preserved
through Green Acres funding will significantly enhance public access
for birding, nature study, scientific research, hunting, fishing,
paddle sports, and other activities.
For more information about preserving land in the Mannington Meadows
project area, contact Fran Rapa, regional manager for the Delaware
Bayshore, at email@example.com