Using Recreation to Connect a New Generation to Pinelands Protection

Our most ardent supporters derive their passion from having experienced the Pine Barrens up close and personal through recreation.



As the primary advocate for Pinelands protection for more than 25 years, those of us involved in the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) are all too familiar with one of our main impediments to success. Despite the fact that the Pinelands is a globally unique ecosystem, is the largest area of protected open space on the eastern seaboard, harbors one of the cleanest aquifers in the world supplying people, plants and coastal bays with pristine fresh water — and despite the multitude of recreational opportunities available here — relatively few people have experienced the Pinelands up close and so come to really love this place.

EBC_2882 Mullica River Aug 2013
The Mullica River ©Ernie Cozens

For the uninitiated, the Pinelands is that unknown mixed pine, oak and white cedar forest one drives through at 60 miles an hour on the way to the Jersey beaches. And for others, the Pinelands is that vast, mysterious area of green viewed from a window seat on a flight in or out of Philadelphia International Airport.

Girl-in-kayakWhile there are great historic attractions at Batsto Village, wonderful hiking trails like the Batona Trail, and parks and natural areas like Brendan Byrne State Forest and Franklin Parker Preserve, we recognize that much of the Pine Barrens is difficult to experience on your own. Without a guide or a starting point and some direction, the Pine Barrens can be intimidating.

We also know that some of our most ardent supporters derive their passion from having experienced the Pine Barrens through recreation — hiking, paddling, camping, horseback riding and so on. Their love for this place in many cases is connected to experiences that they had as kids many years ago. A growing body of research also shows that time in nature is important for physical and emotional health, for both children and adults, but is often hard to come by for those living in our cities or is lost due to the pressures of organized youth athletics and busy schedules.

An Opportunity

When we realized that Wayne Adams had decided to sell his home and the canoe livery he ran for more than 40 years, we saw an opportunity to educate more citizens about the Pinelands in support of PPA’s conservation mission. PPA had just launched the Brendan T. Byrne Fund for the Pinelands, aimed at raising funds to make PPA more effective by getting more people actively engaged in defending the Pinelands. Through cialis that effort – which oddly enough was hatched right up the road over a lunch I had with a friend and colleague at Picalilli Inn — we were able to connect with several foundations and convey our vision of building the public constituency for conservation through active recreation as well as helping more young people and underserved communities get into the outdoors for healthy, nature-based recreation.

Generous Foundation Support

The following foundations and companies have provided the grants that enabled PPA to create Pinelands Adventures:

  •  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • William Penn Foundation
  • Geraldine R. Doge Foundation
  • The Carvel Foundation
  • Holman Enterprises
  • 1772 Foundation
  • PSEG Foundation

Another fortuitous event was the opportunity to meet Rob Ferber, whom we hired as the founding director of Pinelands Adventures. Rob, who lives in Monroeville, NJ, joined us after a 20-year stint managing Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA, a 300-acre family farm and one of the region’s largest agritourism business. He brings great knowledge of the tourism business and has hands on experience with managing all aspects of a business like Pinelands Adventures.

Pinelands Adventures sign, pine barrens canoeing and kayPinelands Adventures has also hired its first education director, John Volpa, who will start work in June. John, a retired Indian Mills Middle School biology and environmental science teacher, has led outdoor trips for schools, for PPA and for REI’s Outdoor School. He is organizing a range of guided trips for the public, for schools and for community groups.

Only public pressure can save the Pinelands from eventual destruction, and the more people appreciate the Pinelands from personal experience, the stronger that public pressure will be.

We hope you will join us on a paddling trip in the near future on the Batsto or Mullica rivers or on a future hiking or history program. We now have a great base of operations in Wharton State Forest. It’s an exciting time for us as we introduce new people to the Pinelands and our mission to protect it for future generations.

Carleton Montgomery is the executive director of Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA), which was established as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1989 by environmental leaders and Pinelands residents, with the goal of preserving and protecting the more than one million acres of the New Jersey Pinelands. PPA remains the only private organization dedicated solely to environmental protection throughout the Pinelands. Pinelands Adventures is an initiative of PPA and is operated by Pinelands Adventures LLC, a limited liability corporation owned by PPA.