Lacey Township, Monmouth County, NJ


From North: Take Garden State Parkway South to Exit 67. Proceed on Route 554 West for 4.7 miles. Merge with Route 72 West. Continue 0.3 of a mile and make right onto Route 532 East. Follow Route 532 East for 1 mile. Turn left onto Jones Rd. (dirt road). Proceed 3.2 miles on Jones Rd. The preserve begins on left. Look for orange and black boundary signs on trees.

The Forked River Mountains encompass an area of over 20,000 acres, but only 5,000 acres has been permanently protected as open space.


The headwaters of three watersheds, Cedar Creek, Forked River and Oyster Creek, originate from the Forked River Mountains area and flow into Barnegat Bay.  East Mountain, the larger of the two hills in the Forked River Mountains, rises 184 feet above sea level.


An artifact collector found boxes of Native American pottery, bones, arrowheads and many other implements. (Miller, 2000:30)

In 1614 Captain Cornelius Hendrickson charted three branches of the Forked River. (Miller, 2000:9)

Forked River was an important shipbuilding and shipping area for pine products. The name came from the three branches of the river which formed a fork. (Miller, 2000:109)

Forked River Mountains

Bounded by Mount Misery, Buckingham, Whiting, Dover Forge, Double Trouble, Forked River, Waretown, Brookville, Cedar Bridge, Woodmansee, and Pasadena.

Moors, barrens, pine woods and cedar swamps

charcoal burners and bog iron men build roads through the area

elevations from 175 to 182 feet above seal level

The sand hills of the Forked River Mountain are higher than many can believe without seeing them. From the road that goes from Whiting to Forked River, the town, one can see the hills along the skyline far away.

Lacey Township gets its name from Gen. John Lacey who in 1809 built at Ferrago, later Bamber, a forge, dwelling houses, barns and stables.

Woodmansee got its name from David Woodmancy, one of the emigrants from Yorkshire who settled first on the site of New Stockholm, and later in Burlington.

From the mountains you can see the hangar at Lakehurst. Also can see the Barnegat Light, all without the aid of field glasses.

(Source: Beck, Henry Charlton Beck. 1963 edition of a 1937 original book. More Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.)


1871-1936  --  the Old Tuckerton Railroad traversed the area from north to south during these years.

World War II  --  the army built an observation tower on the mountain and tested ammunitions in the area.

Tom's River lawyer Stephan R. Leone and family (his children, his brother Aldo Leone and family, and his sister Maria Incremona and family) donated land that was owned by their family for more than four decades. They will eventually give a total of 4,000 acres. Moreover, they have pledged $100,000 for stewardship of  the preserve.

The Nature Conservancy (newsletter The Oak Leaf, Winter 1998):

There are 180 foot high sand and gravel hills that rise prominently amid an otherwise flat terrain. They are covered with pitch pine and scrub oak. The land lies in a J-shape along the Factory Branch of the Cedar Creek, west of the Forked River Mountains. The piece of property links two state wildlife management areas: Greenwood Forest W.M.A. and Double Trouble State park.

The hills are part of the Forked River Mountains.

Forked River Mountain, in the Lacey Tract, was in the center of a proposed city around a proposed airport in the pine barrens. McPhee (1968:150) went up the mountain with the project supervisor who upon looking at the acres of unbroken pineland remarked "I hope I don't start to cry. This is a planner's dream."

The New Jersey Chapter of The Nature Conservancy has accepted a donation of 3,578 acres to form its 22nd nature sanctuary. The land is a gift from the Leone family. The family had mined a portion of the land for construction-grade sand. The family will now limit such activities to less than 250 acres.

Excerpts from "Group Works to Protect Forked River Mountains" Arpie Nakashian, Manahawkin Bureau

The mountain is 184 feet high. It has a dense forest of pitch pine, shrubs and cedar trees, and streams that feed the Forked River, such as the Sprags Branch of the Forked River.

Environmentalists consider the area to have the highest concentration of endangered plants and animals in the state, and nonprofit groups have targeted it in their preservation efforts.

Kerry Jennings, president of the Forked River Mountain Coalition; includes Lacey residents and others from Ocean County

The Nature Conservancy purchased 917 acres in and around the Forked River Mountains earlier this month, giving the nonprofit group 4,400 acres towards its goal to establish a 22,000 acre preserve at the site.

Plant List:

Magnolia virginiana (sweet bay)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus alba X Q prinoides
Quercus borealis f var. maxima (red oak)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus falcata (Spanish oak)
Quercus marilandica (black jack oak)
Quercus montana (chestnut oak)
Quercus phellos (willow oak)
Quercus prinoides form with very small leaves
Quercus prinoides var. rufescens
Quercus prinoides (scrub chestnut oak)
Quercus stellata X Q prinoides
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel)
Quercus ilicifolia and Q marilandica cross (x Q. Brittoni)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Quercus ilicifolia x Q falcata
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)

Smilax laurifolia (laurel-leaved greenbrier)

Arethusa bulbosa (dragon's mouth)
Calopogon pulchellus (grass pink) -- including an albino specimen
Dendrium bushes
Drosera filiformis (thread-leaved sundew)
Drosera longifolia (long-leaved sundew)
Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew)
Gentiana autumnalis (pine barren gentian)
Listera australis (southern twayblade)
Lophiola aurea (goldcrest)
Narthecium americanum (bog asphodel)
Pogonia ophioglossoides (rose pogonia)
Polygala lutea (orange milkwort)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Pyxidanthera barbulata (pyxie)
Sarracenia purpurea (pitcher plant)
Utricularia cornuta (horned bladderwort)
Utricularia fibrosa (fibrous bladderwort)
Utricularia macrorrhiza

Rhynchospora knieskernii (Kniesekern's beaked rush)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Lycopodium sp. (clubmoss)
Schizaea pusilla (curly grass fern)

Sphagnum spp.

June 15, 1941. The June 15 trip of the Torrey Botanical Club to Forked River, NJ, took a group of hardened naturalists into one of the best sections of the Pine Barrens for the study of bog and barrens plants. The group met at the railroad station and followed the tracks south, stopping at the three bogs that extend along the branches of Forked River, and at several spots in the pine woods. The lake on the north branch has been drained for two years, and on the muddy bottom a striking growth of Drosera longifolia (long-leaved sundew) has developed. In the middle branch bog the other two common sundews, Drosera rotundifolia and D filiformis were found. The young leaves and peduncles of D filiformis showed nicely that interesting "fern" character of being rolled up in the bud like the "fiddle-heads" of our common ferns.

Among the interesting bog flowers observed were Narthecium americanum (bog asphodel), Pogonia ophioglossoides, Arethusa bulbosa (dragon's mouth), Calopogon pulchellus (grass pink) -- including an albino specimen, Polygala lutea (orange milkwort), Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel), Magnolia virginiana (sweet bay) and Utricularia fibrosa (bladderwort). The pitcher pants (Sarracenia purpurea) were past their prime, but several very fine mats of plants were noted. The abundance of Schizaea pusilla in the middle branch bog seems to be as great as ever. On many hummocks one could find five to ten specimens, most of which had a few unrolling sporophylls. Last year's fertile fronds were still present but rather brittle. As a suggestion to botanists seeking this inconspicuous fern, it is usually encountered son the hummocks around the bases of white Cedar trees and around old stumps, at about the level where the Sphagnum gives way to lichens such as Cladonia squamosa, C calycantha, C cristatella, C sylvatica, and C tenuis. Among the interesting lichens encountered in the bog was Cladonia impexa. This seems to be the only known station for this lichen in New Jersey. Growing on an island in the south branch we found a quite large colony of Smilax laurifolia.

Among the barrens plants, the oaks are especially interesting and numerous.

Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Quercus prinoides (scrub chestnut oak)
Quercus prinoides var. rufescens
Quercus prinoides form with very small leaves
Quercus montana (chestnut oak)
Quercus borealis f var. maxima (red oak)
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Quercus falcata (Spanish oak)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Quercus marilandica (black jack oak)
Quercus phellos (willow oak)
Quercus ilicifolia and Q marilandica cross (x Q. Brittoni)
Quercus ilicifolia x Q falcata
Quercus alba X Q prinoides
Q stellata X Q prinoides

In all a total of some 228 species of plants were recognized. Leader: Joseph J. Copeland.

June 26-27, 1942. Forked River among others. E. J. Alexander and H. K. Svenson reporting.
A few who had important business in New York left the group at this point but the rest of us proceeded in a bus southward to the botanical stamping ground of Forked River, and especially to the middle branch where there is a bus stop bearing the name of Ostrom. From here it was only a short walk down to the river. Our principal plant of interest was the curly grass (Schizaea pusilla), a small fern which has always been the most interesting single attraction of the barrens. Although one may know the exact location of the plant from past experience, it is not always easy to find. This was true in the present case, but the tiny plants were finally located in little hollows among the Dendrium bushes, associated with Lycopodium and the orange milkwort (Polygala lutea). In another location to the south the plants grew adjacent to Pyxidanthera and Drosera filiformis in an open pathway where there was a slight accumulation of sphagnum moss.

The flora along the margin of the river was as brilliant as any of us had ever seen in the pine barrens, and the slightly cloudy weather tended to enhance the golden flowers of Lophiola and Narthecium americanum, both now in full bloom. In shallow water there was an expanse of yellow bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta), with little islands formed entirely of red-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia). Floating in the deeper water were many colonies of Utricularia fibrosa and U macrorrhiza. Here the pitcher plant (Sarracenia) filled up shallow coves in unbelievable abundance, but flowering time had long passed. It was with regret that we plodded back a mile or so to the bus station, since we all felt that the region could have stood a couple of days' exploration at the least; but our walk was somewhat enlivened by the large number of stray species, such as Polygonum cuspidatum, which are now appearing on the roadside rubbish piles, characteristic of so many of our highways.

September 15-16, 1945. Forked River. Leaders, Louis Hand and Hollis Koster. A visit to the pine barrens dry areas, bogs, marshes, coast strip, and Barnegat Bay shore, with the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia joining us. In addition to botanical walks there was an evening Kodachrome show by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur LaDow, a morning bird walk led by Charles Mohr, and a demonstration of microscopic plant structure by Dr. Theodor Hass. Mr. Nearing soon had an enthusiastic group of lichenologists under way. They even visited a cemetery, where a variety of stone-inhabiting species were brought to light. Mr. Beales produced a variety of grasses, some of them to be transplanted to his garden. A particular prize was Erianthus giganteus. One hundred thirty-one species and two varieties were added to the list of 256 species of mosses, ferns, and seed plants compiled in 1944. In addition, a list of 65 lichens and 22 fungi was turned in this year. Copies of the complete list are available on request to the chairman of the field committee. The question is, shall we go back to Forked River in 1946? If so what time would you prefer?

Forked River, NJ. June 21-22, 1947.

The most spectacular find was Listera australis, of which a stand of 8 plants were found

May 15, 1949. This was the seventh Torrey trip in the last decade to this splendid location and each visit has produced many new plants. Eighteen new species and one variety were observed on this trip. These additions along with four species and one variety reported by Hollis Koster, from collections made on former trips and just recently identified, make a grand total of 479 species.

The colony of Listera australis discovered on the Club trip of June 21-22, 1947 has now increased to some two dozen or more thriving specimens, which were in full anthesis on this date. Also admired by the group were two plants of Arethusa bulbosa in full flower and of a strikingly deep pink hue. This is early for the fully developed specimens of this orchid. Attendance was 11. Leader was Louis E. Hand.