The Nature Reserve is a 220 acre sanctuary located in the midst of a residential community in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. It is comprised of three components: An environmental learning center, a lake area, and wooded forest. Each offers diverse terrain and a unique place to enjoy many activities in a passive and pristine setting, including biking, hiking, fishing, and bird watching.
To realize its fullest potential, Egg Harbor Township has begun the process of reclaiming and restoring the land with the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The Township has entrusted the Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve, LLC, a non-profit tax exempt corporation, to develop the Reserve in a responsible and environmentally sensitive manner for the use and enjoyment of generations to come.
Thus far, with the assistance of community volunteers, a massive clean-up effort has been completed, a new parking lot installed and a trail system has been created to improve accessibility throughout the facility. The soils of the former mining operation are being stabilized through a gradation plan and the introduction of native vegetation. Hundreds of saplings have been planted to improve the habitat for a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Interactive trails throughout the sanctuary will allow schools and environmental organizations to study the diversity of plants and wildlife in a natural setting.
Future plans include an observation deck, gazebo and ADA-compliant accessibility. Picnic tables, park benches, and informative signs will be placed throughout the Reserve to make it more user-friendly. In keeping with the passive nature of the park, motorized vehicles and motorized boats are strictly prohibited. The Environmental Learning Center features a nature trail to enhance the study of trees, gardens, and meadows. It has a canopied building constructed by students of the Eagle Academy, birdhouses and parking facilities. The 15 acre site has a trail system, recognized as part of the New Jersey Audubon Birding and Wildlife Trail System for its diverse habitat. To date, 48 different species of trees have been identified throughout the Reserve.
The 45 acre man-made lake is fed by subterranean springs and varies in depth up to 20 ft. Five small islands create picturesque scenery as well as a buffer for three vernal ponds. The lake is populated by an abundance of bass that maybe fished from the shoreline. The lake area is surrounded by another 35 acres of upland areas, encircled by both lower and upper tier trails that are suitable for walking, running, and biking. The uplands also serve as a habitat for numerous wildlife including reptiles, amphibians, wading and migratory birds, as well as ospreys, and peregrine falcons. An American Bald Eagle has recently been spotted feeding along lake at the Reserve!
The 125 acre oak-pine forest, while mostly undisturbed, has roughly 10 miles of easily navigable trails shared by hikers, runners, and bicyclists. Future plans include an eco-friendly outdoor fitness system with workout stations placed where appropriate. This trail system connects all components of the reserve and also serves as habitat for deer, birds, rabbits, and foxes.
The Nature Reserve promises to become an environmental and recreational jewel of South Jersey benefiting all members of the general public. In order to allow the Egg Harbor Township Nature Reserve to reach its fullest potential charitable donations and grants from the public and private sectors are being sought. If you or your organization are interested in making a difference and be a part of this worthy effort, please contact one of our representatives to see how you can become an honorary Friend of the Reserve.