NJ Pine Barrens - more info Barry Caselli
July 27, 2009

I know I've given a lot of background on this area, but I keep thinking of things, and can't remember what I've posted and what I haven't.
There are 3 different areas (the same basic area with different boundaries). First you have the ecological, or physical, pine barrens. That covers all of or portions of 8 of our southern counties. The Pinelands National Reserve is a smaller area of the total physical area. The State Pinelands Area, which is basically the same as the Pinelands NR, but with different boundaries, is a little smaller still, I believe. This is the area managed by the Pinelands Commission, from what I understand. The whole thing is complicated, even to me, someone who has lived here for 24 years. A figure of 1.1 milllion acres has been tossed around for years, but I'm not sure if that's the acreage of the entire physical pine barrens, or of just the National Reserve, or what. I should know this, I suppose.
Basically we have pure pine forests, oak/pine forests, and pine/oak forests. We also have Atlantic White Cedar swamps and hardwood swamps (Swamp Maple and Sour Gum, mostly), dwarf pine/oak forests. There are also marshes, vernal ponds and other similar things.
As for the forests, nearly 100% of them were cut over for charcoal and firewood, at least once or twice since the white man came here. The cedar swamps were all cut over for shipbuilding, cedar roof shingles, and lumber for home construction.
The bog iron, paper and glass industries all used charcoal as fuel, and used the cedar trees for their houses. So what we have today is a second or third growth forest. Also, most of the old bog iron, paper and glass-making villages have been swallowed up by the forest, and in these places you can find the non-native trees that once were planted around houses and public buildings, or you can find the offspring of those non-native trees.
Not all cedar swamps regenerated as cedar swamps after being cut, unfortunately. That's why we have more hardwood swamps and fewer cedar swmaps than we had 100 or 200 years ago.
And as a final note, I find incredible beauty in Pitch Pines and Shortleaf Pines (which resemble each other when old or mature), and in cedar swamps. As for big and tall trees, finding big or tall native trees is kind of difficult. The non-natives, ones that were planted 200 plus years ago, those can be found more easily sometimes.
For the purposes of the website, the facts in this post can be added to some of my previous general knowledge pine barrens posts. I'm not sure what information I've given or haven't given so far.

Continued at: