At first glance, I knew no place in the South Jersey area that could be considered an ecotourism destination. Perhaps the local Marlton REI store can offer some help? Nope, not even close. There were many books and suggestions containing information out of the area. I wondered why REI selected this area for one of their only locations in New Jersey. There was a suggestion given to me by a customer. It was about a visit they made to the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Who would have known, the largest area of heavily forested land was adjacent to Philadelphia and New York cities. I noticed the vast Pinelands while driving on the Atlantic City Expressway running through the middle but I knew very little about it. I heard some local folklore about the "Jersey Devil" told by the people living in the Pine Barrens. Farming is not one of the assets of the area which spans over 1.1 million acres, except for growing cranberries. This area is considered one of the largest cranberry producers in the United States.
New Jersey is one of the highest polluted states but has a major source of underground water. It's called the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer. It contains some of the cleanest water in the United States.The New Jersey Pine Barrens is designated a National Reserve and International Biosphere Reserve because it sits on top of the aquifer.
Not all Reserves have educational and economic opportunities. I can imagine all the possibilities of this place as an ecotourism destination. I hope to visit the cranberry bogs before the weather turns too cold.
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