Stalking The Wildlife Management Area

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Stalking The Wildlife Management Area

Postby mergs » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:02 am


Stalking The Wildlife Management Area
by Paul Tarlowe
Scattered throughout the Skylands region are parcels of state land often overlooked by folks seeking out wild places and spaces to explore. These multiple-use public lands are designated Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), administered by the state Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife. Managed primarily for hunting and fishing, WMAs are also prime locations for birding, wildlife viewing and photography, cross country skiing, hiking and mountain biking.

Purchased with funds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and through the Green Acres Program, the Wildlife Management Area System encompasses 27,213 acres in the Skylands and over 237,000 acres statewide. The Division works closely with Green Acres, as well as non-profit conservation organizations, to acquire and manage these lands to benefit both people and wildlife. In addition to providing recreation, the areas safeguard water supplies, preserve open space and provide habitat for endangered as well as common wildlife and plant species.

Hunting and fishing enthusiasts will find WMAs ideal for their use. Parking areas provide access to prime hunting and fishing grounds. In fact, many of the areas are stocked with pheasants raised at the Division's Rockport Pheasant Farm (also open to the public). Thriving herds of deer, flocks of wild turkeys and small game provide hunters with thousands of recreation-days. For anglers, some of New Jersey's most fabled trout streams flow through these lands. The Flatbrook, South Branch of the Raritan, Rockaway, Paulinskill, Pequest and Musconetcong rivers are all accessible from WMAs. In partnership with Trout Unlimited and Ramsey Outdoor Stores, the Division has developed accessible sites for people with disabilities in the Flatbrook-Roy and Pequest WMAs.

One of the jewels of the Wildlife Management Area System is the Pequest WMA off Rt. 46 in Warren County. Here you will find the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center, a state of the art facility that produces 600,000 trout for public waters every year. The center caters to schools, organized groups and the general public, presenting programs about a wide range of natural resource topics. It is open seven days a week (excluding holidays) from 10 am to 4 pm. Visitors can enjoy a video about the trout rearing operation, a self-guided tour, exhibits, picnic areas and a marked trail network that features a self-guided interpretive Natural Resource Trail. Weekend and group programs are also available.

Reflecting the diversity of the region, WMAs vary from extremely rugged terrain (Wildcat Ridge WMA) to a level wooded road (along the South Branch of the Raritan River through Ken Lockwood Gorge WMA). Because existing areas continually expand and new areas continue to be added, WMA land is hard to keep up with. For information and existing maps for specific areas, contact the Division's Pequest office at 908-637-4125. NJ Fish and Game:

Paul Tarlowe is Senior Biologist-Education at Pequest Trout Hatchery.

Red Shouldered Hawk. Photo by Donna Traylor

List of Wildlife Management Areas by County:
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