|New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife|
For more information contact:
Jim Sciascia at 908-735-8975
During a recent unveiling ceremony at the Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's Museum, the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife introduced the New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide. The guide, a cornerstone of the Division's Wildlife Diversity Tours/Watchable Wildlife Program, showcases 87 sites throughout New Jersey where people can observe and learn about our state's incredible array of wildlife and the variety of habitats that support it.
"The Wildlife Diversity Tours/Watchable Wildlife Program offers individuals and families a great outdoors experience and the opportunity to learn about the needs of wildlife and our responsibilities as stewards of New Jersey's natural resources," said DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn. "An added benefit is the program's potential to bolster local economies through natural resource-related tourism, by encouraging everything from canoe and camping equipment rentals to binocular sales and bed and breakfast stays."
The full-color, 160 page guide leads residents and visitors to a diversity of sites throughout the state that provide wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. New Jersey hosts 325 bird species, 90 mammal species, 79 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 400 species of fish.
"In fact," said Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife Director Bob McDowell, "on a square mile basis, no other state in the nation has a greater diversity of wildlife than New Jersey. The Garden State's advantage is its geographic position that provides mountains, valleys, rolling hills, wetlands, pinelands, beaches, estuaries and river systems. We have the best of many ecological worlds."
Viewing sites are as diverse as the wildlife present and include wildlife management areas, state parks and forests, national wildlife refuges and recreation areas, county and municipal parks and conservation organization lands. For the purpose of the guide, the state has been divided into eight regions: Ridge and Valley, Highland, Metro, Piedmont, Lower Delaware River, Pinelands, Shore and Delaware Bay/Cape May Peninsula. Sites are organized by region, each accompanied by directions, an ecological description, wildlife viewing opportunities and facility/amenity information.
The many wildlife tours that compose the guide are designed as two-day, self-interpretive driving/hiking excursions and are located in the four regions that have large amounts of publicly owned land -- Ridge and Valley, Highlands, Pinelands, and Delaware Bay/Cape May Peninsula. Selected viewing sites that reflect the dominant habitat of the region as well as the relationships of wildlife and man have been linked together to form a self-guided tour. Interpretive text in the guide helps visitors understand the area and the wildlife present. The tours are designed to encourage overnight stays and can be combined with regional cultural attractions and local amenities in a manner that keeps tourists and tourism dollars in these areas for longer periods of time.
Some wildlife viewing sites offer natural resource interpretive centers such as the Pequest Wildlife Management Area, while others simply have a parking area and interpretive signs. The continual improvement of all wildlife viewing sites will be an important factor in attracting new and repeat visitors. Realizing this, financial assistance for the development of trails, blinds, observation platforms, literature and interpretive panels at the wildlife viewing sites is being provided by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife through a grant program. The Division is also fostering a sense of local ownership for each viewing site by creating partnerships with viewing site hosts, host municipalities and local businesses.
One such partnership was highlighted at the recent unveiling ceremony. The Barnegat Bay Decoy and Baymen's Museum was chosen as the ceremony site because of a unique partnership formed between the museum and the Division, Tuckerton Seaport, Little Egg Harbor Township, Tuckerton Boro, Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Richard Stockton State College, Pinelands Regional School District, and the Marina Facility Owners of Great Bay Boulevard. A proposal to develop an auto/biking/hiking trail along Great Bay Boulevard and within the Division's Great Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is being developed. Great Bay WMA lies within the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and is one of the sites described in the guide. There are also plans to develop 22 miles of canoe and kayak trails in the tidal creeks surrounding the peninsula. This is a perfect example of the types of projects and partnerships the Division hopes to stimulate through the Wildlife Diversity Tours/Watchable Wildlife Program.
The program and guide are the result of partnerships. The guide is one in a national series of wildlife viewing guides published by Falcon Press and created through the national Watchable Wildlife Program coordinated by the Defenders of Wildlife. The New Jersey project is funded through grants from the National Park Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the federal Partnerships for Wildlife program; Public Service Electric & Gas Co.; NJ Audubon Society; the state Department of Transportation, the state Division of Travel and Tourism and the DEP's divisions of Parks and Forestry and Fish, Game and Wildlife. In addition, the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife has donated major funding from the sale of its "Conserve Wildlife" license plates.
Individuals can order the New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide by calling (609) 292-9400, writing to the Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program at P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400, or by contacting the Division's website at www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw. The cost is $10.95 plus $3.95 for shipping and handling. Books may be purchased in person at the Division's Trenton office at 501 East State Street, 3rd Floor, at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center on Rt. 46 in Oxford and at various bookstores and nature centers throughout the state.