The Pinelands Commission has been working with 16 municipalities and five counties to develop a state and federally designated scenic byway through the southern portion of the Pine Barrens.
Designated as a State Scenic Byway by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Pine Barrens Byway (formerly known as the Southern Pinelands Natural Heritage Trail) meanders through areas of striking natural beauty and rich historic heritage. With a focus on maritime portions of the Pinelands, the route takes particular advantage of the scenic qualities and historic hamlets of the Mullica, Maurice and Tuckahoe River Corridors.
The impetus for the byway designation was the Pinelands Rural Economic Development Program, which examined economic conditions in several Pinelands towns and recommended measures to stimulate environmentally suitable economic growth through various planning initiatives, incentives, public improvements, and redevelopment. One suggestion was for a New Jersey and National Scenic Byway that would bring widespread awareness of, and interest in, the natural assets of the Pinelands.
The Commission set up an organizing committee of municipal representatives to oversee the nomination process. An inventory of the many natural and cultural attractions along the byway was also prepared and all 16 municipalities and five counties through which the byway passes adopted resolutions supporting its designation. On behalf of the organizing committee, Commission staff prepared a nomination document that was formally proposed to and accepted by the State Byway Committee in early 2005.
The Pine Barrens Byway, formerly known as the Southern Pinelands Natural Heritage Trail, was designated as an official New Jersey State Scenic Byway in August 2005. Now that the byway has received state recognition, the nomination will be forwarded to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation for federal designation. Listing as a byway enables the sponsors to apply for program-affiliated grants and provides access to a variety of promotional and marketing opportunities, including development of visitor centers, wayside exhibits, and self-guided tours. The byway will also be featured in the U.S. Department of the Interior's byway website and in other state and national tourism materials and maps and will feature highway signage supplied by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.