Wildlife Management Areas Surpass 300,000-Acre Mark

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Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced that New Jersey's network of wildlife management areas has topped 304,000 acres, making it one of the largest in the Northeast.

"As the nation's most densely populated state and the fifth smallest, New Jersey now boasts more acreage for wildlife management areas than New York and even outpaces Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined," Acting Commissioner Jackson said. "That achievement is a testament to our commitment to preserving open space, protecting our unique wildlife and habitats and providing countless recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike."

As of January, the state's 121 wildlife management areas totaled 304,735 acres, up 8,000 acres during the past year. Located throughout 19 counties, the total acreage represents more than 44 percent of New Jersey's state-owned open space.

Administered by the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife, the state's system of wildlife management areas dates to 1932 when the Board of Fish and Game Commissioners, now known as the Fish and Game Council, acquired the 387-acre Walpack Tract in Sussex County as a "public shooting and fishing ground."

For nearly 30 years, New Jersey relied entirely on sales of fishing and hunting licenses to purchase land for wildlife management areas, and those fees funded the state's first 100,000 acres. The public began participating in the system's development in 1961 when voters approved the first Green Acres bond issue. Today, the DEP's Green Acres program continues its critical role in open-space acquisition. In fact, Green Acres preserved a record number of acres - more than 38,000 - during 2005, the program's most successful year since its inception.

For more information on New Jersey's Wildlife Management Areas, visit the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife Web site at www.njfishandwildlife.com.