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The Pines of March
2/16/2017 Volume XLVII, No. 7

Been to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens? If not, here are some great reasons to explore this incredible area this March.

The Pine Barrens are hiding in plain sight: a sparsely-populated region of 1.1 million acres within the nation’s most densely populated state. Millions of drivers skirt its eastern edge each year as they travel the Garden State Parkway through Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic and Cape May counties to shore destinations.

How about heading west instead of east upon exiting the Parkway? There is a world where nature and wildlife reign supreme, with hundreds of thousands of acres of preserved forest crossed by sand roads and tea-colored streams, an astounding variety of rare plants and animals,  and cranberry bogs, historic villages, and fields where blueberries were first cultivated.

Interested in learning more? Mark your calendar for the second weekend in March, which features back-to-back events highlighting the many reasons the “Pines” are a place like no other.

First comes the 28th annual Pinelands Short Course on Saturday, March 11: a full day of educational programs hosted by Stockton University in Galloway Township. The Short Course is followed on Sunday, March 12, by Lines on the Pines, a free event celebrating Pine Barrens authors, artists and artisans.

The weekend’s events aren’t related, but they’re designed to complement each other. Together, they make for a fabulous introduction to the Pine Barrens!

This year’s Pinelands Short Course includes 38 presentations on the ecosystems, wetlands, wildlife, culture and history of the Pine Barrens. Attendees can choose up to four presentations: two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Folks with an interest in nature may want to check out the presentation on the Pinelands’ threatened and endangered snakes, and another on its raptors and reptiles … both featuring live animals.

For those who enjoy history and culture, the program includes the Jersey Devil’s origins in the Pine Barrens; the life story of Jeremiah Leeds, a “Piney” who once owned almost all of what is now Atlantic City; the ghost towns of the Pinelands; the historic village of Batsto through the years; and the Lenape Indians and their use of the region’s natural resources in everyday life.

This year’s Short Course also offers a half-day guided van tour of the Mullica River watershed, with stops at various wildlife habitats. The course features three on-campus field trips: bird species identification, a tour of Stockton’s ecologically managed forests, and tour of the campus’ biodiversity hotspots.

To see Pinelands Short Course descriptions and download a registration form, go to http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/hshs/content/docs/2017_PSC_Broch_SinglesWeb.pdf.

Lines on the Pines will follow on Sunday at the Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. Over 50 talented Pine Barrens authors, artists and artisans will be on hand to sign books, play music, display artworks and crafts, and share their love of the Pine Barrens.

The featured speaker will be bird carver Gary Giberson, entertainment will be provided by the Ruins of Friendship Orchestra, and there will be a special screening of an excerpt from the new film “The Pine Barrens” by David Scott Kessler.

For more information on Lines on the Pines, go to http://www.linesonthepines.org/index.html.

Whether you’re a lifelong “Piney” or newcomer looking for an introduction, you’ll have fun exploring the unique geology, history, folklore and traditions of the Pine Barrens at these two great events!

To learn more about New Jersey's Pine Barrens, please visit http://www.pinelandsalliance.org/

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

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