Franklin E. Parker and DeMarco Cranberry Meadows Natural Area
Chatsworth, Burlington County, NJ
It connects five State-owned properties: Brendan Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest), Wharton State Forest, Bass River State Forest, Greenwood Wildlife Management Area and Penn State Forest. Fourteen tributaries of the West Branch of the Wading River originate on or pass through the property.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation Option to Purchase 9400-acre Tract in
the Pine Barrens: Largest Private Land Conservation Deal in New Jersey History "
August 13, 2003.
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) has exercised its option to purchase the 9400-acre DeMarco property located in the heart of the Pine Barrens in Burlington County, surrounding the Village of Chatsworth in Woodland, Tabernacle and Bass River Townships.
The property's owner, A.R. DeMarco Enterprises, has agreed to sell this 14 square mile property to NJCF at a bargain sale price of $12 million. NJCF has raised $5 million towards the purchase price and will fund the $7 million balance with loans to be paid off over five years.
"In just 11 months NJCF raised $5 million in private funds to purchase the DeMarco property, an unprecedented accomplishment," said NJCF Board President Sam Lambert. "Supporters from across New Jersey - and the country - are helping NJCF take advantage of the best Pinelands conservation opportunity in a generation."
"We have a lot more fundraising to do," Lambert added, "we need to raise an additional $7 million to complete the purchase, and $3 million for long-term stewardship." An ecological region of international significance, the 1.1 million-acre Pine Barrens stretch across 22% of the state. Designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1988 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Pine Barrens contain the largest swath of open space on the mid-Atlantic seaboard between Boston and Richmond.
The property will be named for Franklin E. Parker, the first Chair of the
Pinelands Commission from 1979 to 1988. Appointed to the Commission by then
Governor Brendan T. Byrne, Parker has been a long-time supporter of
environmental causes throughout the country. He served on NJCF's Board of
Trustees from 1964 to 1994, was its second President ('65 - '68), and is now an
Honorary Trustee. Parker is currently an advisor to the New Jersey Field Office
of the Trust for Public Land, Honorary Co-Chair of the Highlands Coalition, a
Member of the Board of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, an Honorary Trustee
of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a Member of the Board of Advisors
at the University of Vermont's School of Natural Resources. He is a former
Trustee of the Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research,
the Jackson Hole Preserve Incorporated, and the Morris Land Conservancy. He is
also a former Trustee of Rutgers University, and former Chair of the Advisory
Board of Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences.
The property's cranberry bog areas will be named in honor of the DeMarco family and called the DeMarco Cranberry Meadows Natural Area.
Anthony R. DeMarco, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Hammonton in the Pinelands and at a young age become a successful farmer, produce broker, and civic leader. His father, Rocco DeMarco was a cranberry "padrone", gathering workers - including many relatives - to work on the cranberry bogs at Chatsworth, Friendship, and Sim Place. In 1930, Anthony R. DeMarco married Gladys Alloway who was born in Tabernacle and raised in the hamlet of Friendship, near Chatsworth. Prior to her marriage she was a teacher at the Chatsworth School. Her father, James Garfield Alloway, and her grandfather, Mark Alloway, were cranberry bog foremen at Friendship and Valley Green.
Anthony R. DeMarco always had the dream of being a bog owner, and in 1940, he began to acquire cranberry bogs near Chatsworth. Over the following decades he - and after his death his three children - acquired almost 10,000 acres, amassing one of the largest privately held tracts in New Jersey. The DeMarco family along with their capable and loyal employees, developed one of the largest, most productive, and most successful cranberry operations in the United States.
"We are thrilled to acknowledge the DeMarco family's history in the area and their generosity by naming the cranberry bog areas for them," said Michele Byers, Executive Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
The property has 1,500 acres of reservoirs and thousands of acres of wetland and upland forests including 600 acres of Atlantic white cedar swamp. The land has exceptional habitat for native and endangered species including bald eagles and the unique Pine Barrens tree frog.
NJCF will manage the property as a nature preserve to provide passive recreational opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers and other visitors, and enhance habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species by restoring the former agricultural areas.
The mission of New Jersey Conservation Foundation is to preserve New Jersey's land and natural resources for the benefit of all. As a leading innovator and catalyst for saving land, NJCF protects strategic lands through acquisition and stewardship; promotes strong land use policies; and forges partnerships to achieve conservation goals. Since 1960, NJCF has protected tens of thousands of acres of open space - from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks.
Donations to NJCF's Heart of the Pine Barrens Fund should be mailed to: New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931. Donations can also be made securely on line by clicking here Heart of the Pine Barrens Fund, or by phone/fax: 908-234-1225/ 908-234-1189.