The Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The PNR is the first National Reserve in the U.S. This internationally- important, ecological region is 1.1 million acres in size, covers portions of seven counties and occupies 22% of New Jersey's land area. It is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston, and it is underlain by aquifers containing an estimated 17 trillion gallons of pure water. In 1983, the area was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, an agency of the United Nations. In 1988, it was recognized as an International Biosphere Reserve.
The Pinelands National Reserve, perhaps better known locally as the Pinelands or Pine Barrens, is a unique location of historic villages, towns and berry farms located amid the vast oak-pine forests. The region features extensive wetlands and provides habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species, including dozens that are rare. Part or all of 53 municipalities in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean Counties are located within the state-designated Pinelands Area.
Resulting from both State and Federal initiatives, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission was created in 1979 by the passage of the New Jersey Pinelands Protection Act. Its mission is to preserve, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands National Reserve, and to encourage compatible economic and other human activities consistent with that purpose. The Commission is governed by a 15-member board, with seven members who are appointed by the Governor of New Jersey, one appointed by each of the seven Pinelands counties and one appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The Commission's Executive Director oversees a staff of planners, reviewers, scientists and others. The Commission implements the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, which was adopted in 1980. The Plan contains rules that guide development and natural resource protection in the Pinelands.
The Pinelands Commission and Land Use Regulation Permitting
Generally speaking, State permits may not be issued for a Pinelands activity that is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Management Plan. Many State permit applications may not be accepted as administratively complete without a prior permit or substantial consistency declaration by the Commission.
More specific to Division of Land Use Regulation applications, the Commission often is a commenting agency for the Division’s CAFRA and larger Freshwater Wetland applications, and sometimes will directly review wetland general permit applications while doing Comprehensive Management Plan reviews. Limits of jurisdictional freshwater wetlands may be determined by the Commission’s more stringent delineation criteria and only the Commission’s wetland buffer rules shall be applied. New Jersey’s ability to regulate freshwater wetlands in the Pinelands is limited to discharges of dredged or fill materials, unlike other areas.
Interaction between the NJDEP and the Pinelands Commission may be complex. It is recommended that an applicant requiring Division of Land Use Regulation permitting for projects in the Pinelands contact the Division or Commission for guidance prior to submitting an application. For more information, please see: https://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/
New Jersey Pinelands Commission
PO Box 359
15 Springfield Road
New Lisbon, NJ 08064
General Pinelands information (non-permit related)