DEP closes six areas at wildlife facilities

Closures impact several counties across the state

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Fish and Wildlife Division will close six small areas across the state until Sept 6.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Fish and Wildlife Division will close six small areas at five wildlife management facilities across the state, effective today.

The areas will remain closed until Sept. 5 and reopen the following day. According to the assistant commissioner for DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, David Golden, it is the second time the DEP division has regulated the closures. The department manages 360,000 acres across New Jersey that comprise 122 wildlife management areas. 

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“The reasoning behind this is because throughout that entire inventory of 360,000 acres,  we have certain areas that pose, I’ll say, attractive nuisances for the public,” Golden explained.  “So we have areas that are a direct risk and danger to the public.”

The affected areas have attracted large crowds but also unauthorized activities such as off-road vehicle use that create an unsafe environment for residents.

“The basis behind all of our closures are really to protect the public, for the safety of the public, for the safety of our fish and wildlife staff and our conservation police officers,” Golden noted. “And then in some instances to protect the properties of those areas from damage and litter.”

The impacted areas include Cedar Lake in Monroe Township, Greenwood Forest in Ocean County, Menantico Ponds in Cumberland County, Wildcat Ridge in Morris county’s Rockaway Township  and Winslow Township. The last is commonly referred to as Winslow East.

According to Golden, the closures take pressure off law enforcement and land management staff and keep the public and environment safe.

“If we had a much larger conservation police officer force, we could probably keep these areas open, but we only have 42 conservation police officers statewide,” he said.

 The mission of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and manage the state’s fish and wildlife to maximize long-term biological, recreational and economic values in the state. It also educates New Jerseyans on the values and needs of that wildlife.

The DEP’s Division of Land Resource Protection is also connected to the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) that was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. That measure resulted in the Pinelands area being named the first national reserve in the U.S., with extensive wetlands and habitats for hundreds of plant and animal species. Part or all 53 municipalities in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean counties are within the state-designated Pinelands area.

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