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Batona Trail parcel donated to NJ Conservation


New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Batona Trail hike
WOODLAND TWP. - Garfield DeMarco, whose family once farmed cranberries on the 9,400-acre property in Chatsworth now known as the Franklin Parker Preserve, has donated a small but important parcel to expand the preserve.

On Feb. 6, DeMarco donated 1.75 acres off Cedar Lane to New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which co-owns the Franklin Parker Preserve with the State of New Jersey.

The gift is especially significant because part of the Batona Trail - a 53-mile hiking path through the heart of the Pine Barrens - crosses the parcel.

"We're very grateful to Garfield DeMarco for his generosity in donating this land to New Jersey Conservation," said Michele S. Byers, executive director. "The Batona is an incredibly beautiful and scenic trail in the Pine Barrens, and it's wonderful that the land beneath this trail section is now preserved forever."

DeMarco, a longtime supporter of New Jersey Conservation, said he was pleased to make the donation.

"I'm very proud of what my sister, Anna Lynn DeMarco Papinchak, and I accomplished to preserve and conserve such a vast area of New Jersey. The donation of the land through which the Batona Trail crosses is part of that family legacy," said DeMarco.

"Our parents, Anthony R. DeMarco and Gladys Alloway DeMarco, would be most pleased to know that certain family members played such important roles in protecting the forest, streams and flora and fauna of the Pinelands, which they loved and for which they cared," he added.

New Jersey Conservation purchased the land for the Franklin Parker Preserve from the DeMarco family in 2003. In 2011 and 2012, New Jersey Conservation staff and volunteers rerouted 7.2 miles of the Batona Trail to cross scenic sections of the preserve.

With the rerouted Batona Trail, the Franklin Parker Preserve now has about 28 miles of hiking and mixed use trails.

Free Hike on April 18

The new section of Batona Trail will be showcased on Saturday, April 18, during New Jersey Conservation's "Top to Bottom Hike" through the preserve. The guided hike runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will cover seven to eight miles.

"It's a long hike, and it's an energetic hike," said hike leader Chris Jage, New Jersey Conservation's assistant director for South Jersey. "The spirit of the hike is to shake off the winter blues and enjoy the outdoors."

The Top to Bottom Hike is free, but advance registration is required. To register online, go to

The hike may include scrambling through wet areas, so hikers should wear waterproof footwear. Hikers should also pack food and water, as the trek includes a lunch break along the trail.

The Top to Bottom Hike is part of New Jersey Conservation's "Step into Nature" series of walks, talks and outdoor events.
To learn more about the preserve's trail system and a forest stewardship plan to protect its ecology and the well-being of the surrounding community, go to

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation's programs and preserves, go to or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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