Understanding an ecological treasure: the Pine Barrens of New Jersey!

Understanding an ecological treasure: the Pine Barrens of New Jersey!

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey is the largest remaining tract of Atlantic Coastal Pine barren Ecosytem on the east Coast. This region is also known as the “pines” or “piinelands” . The “barrens” refers to its sandy, low moisture, nurtrient poor acidics soils that made it unsuitable for farming traditional cultivated vegetables or crops. But the land is far from being barren. It is a rich and diverse ecological region the harbors several types of upland forests including and amazing “pygmy pine” forest no more than 4 feet tall. The lowlands included heaths of high bush blueberries, huckleberries and dew berries. Acid-loving carnivorous plants and rare orchids inhabit the swamps. Stands of fire resistant pitch pines and atlantic white cedar are abundant in the low lands along with hardwood swamps. A cycle of periodic fires that would occur naturally dedicate the ecosystem and cycles of succession. Today, controlled burns are mixed in with accidental fires. The pine barrens harbor many many different species of flora and fauna with many on endangered or threatened species lists. Beneath the pine barrens lies one of the largest and cleanest freshwater aquifers in the country. The Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer includes over 3000 square miles and 17 trillion gallons of water. The Pine Barrens is the nation’s first national reserve: The Pinelands National Reserve (1978 congressional legislation). The United Nations designated it as an International Biosphere Reserve. In this video I explain the amazing geological and biological features of the Pine Barrens through a canoe trip on the Wading River. The “back waters” of the pine barrens are tea or rust colored from tanins, low ph and iron precipitates in the water.

Micks Canoe Rental:

Wilki commons pine barrens
Old houses:
Frederikto, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stone building
Susan Spitz, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic building:

Jersey Devil
Various/several, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

jersey deveil
Vectorized by Kj1595, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commonse
Fire: Thisisbossi, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

National Park Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

View of pines
amartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Old iron furnance
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Paul Evans Pedersen Jr. on June 6, 2023 at 9:22 am

    A great video with some good information on the early industry of the Pine Barrens, except I wish you would have mentioned something about the world-famous South Jersey glass making industry that was and still is made possible by the incredible deposits of pure silica sand found here in the Pine Barrens. We call it "sugar sand", and it is what makes South Jersey glass so famous, and home to the first fruit jars, blown at Crowleytown (now Crowley’s Landing) by John Landis Mason, who patented the first threaded closure on the Mason Jar.

  2. Susan Oberski on June 6, 2023 at 9:28 am

    Welcome to my back yard, Frank. I hope you got to visit Batsto and learn the history of the forest and waters there. Most people across the country when hearing I’m from New Jersey ask, oh, what exit ? They don’t realize what a gem we have hear.

  3. Brian Quilty on June 6, 2023 at 9:29 am

    Beautiful scenery ! So I can tell you that the acetic effect on soil is very real. Pine trees drop tons of pine needles that are very acetic and they are a way of the tree to fight off any competition for the acquisition of moisture. I can’t grow any decent kind of grass anywhere near our Pine / Fir trees.

  4. Ben Moffitt on June 6, 2023 at 9:29 am

    I never realized what a beautiful and unique area the Pine Barrens was. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. THEY'RE GR-R-REAT! on June 6, 2023 at 9:30 am

    Interesting! How could anybody tell if the water is relatively safe for drinking?!? You might drink worms amebas of some sort?

  6. Tyler T. on June 6, 2023 at 9:32 am

    Excellent video! I am from Bayonne in northern NJ, and I always advocate for the Pine Barrens. There’s a magical feeling down in those woods, and I try to convince all my fellow northerners to spend some time at Double Trouble, kayak on the Batsto River, or camp wayy down in Belleplain!

  7. Kevin Leonard on June 6, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Amazing video , thank you !!

  8. Gerard Johnson on June 6, 2023 at 9:39 am

    That is some very beautiful scenery. I didn’t know the Pine Barrens was so expansive. Thanks for sharing your travels and discoveries with us.

  9. Ольга Скітецька on June 6, 2023 at 9:40 am

    I have fallen in love with your videos. They are really interesting and infomative! But above all these, you manage to covey your great love for nature in the each episode. It attracts. Thank you for your work!

  10. Will S. on June 6, 2023 at 9:45 am

    My parents took us to the Pine Barrens when I was a kid. We drove into a forested area that was designated for picking blueberries, I don’t even remember seeing anyone at all, but just remember the quiet beauty of the forest and picking the berries with my family. I swear I saw a baby black bear but no one believed me. Beautiful place, beautiful memory.

  11. Piterdeveirs333 on June 6, 2023 at 9:48 am

    I really miss kayaking in the Pine Barrens

  12. Smetlogik Herping on June 6, 2023 at 9:53 am

    That is a great way to see the Barrens from a different perspective, great history lesson, I always wondered about the "Barrens" part of the Pine Barrens. Your travel van looks pretty cozy. I’m still doing the tent thing, but that’s looking a bit more inviting.

  13. Mia K on June 6, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Sorry I missed you in NJ! I am from Va, but now I live right on the edge of the Pinelands. It is such a special place. We just had the Cranberry Festival this weekend.

  14. Jason Wolfe on June 6, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Don’t forget about the Pine Barrens Gopher snake. 🐍

  15. Jeni on June 6, 2023 at 10:05 am

    FABULOUS VIDEO!!;)) I also think the white cedar & Pitch Pines have some ‘resistance’ to insect invasions?!?! I was amazed by the size of those white cedar trees!💜 Thanks again for a GREAT. IDEO!✌️

  16. Lou Stoneberger on June 6, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Any fishing opportunity.?

  17. Carmen Nunnally on June 6, 2023 at 10:06 am

    I have those pine trees 🌲 around me

  18. loveclairehart2 on June 6, 2023 at 10:10 am

    thanks nice video 🙂

  19. Judy Finnegan on June 6, 2023 at 10:12 am

    Thanks Frank! Very interesting! Take care now! 🙂

  20. Music Man on June 6, 2023 at 10:14 am

    Mick’s Canoe Rental is an institution. We rented from them back in the late 1960’s! I’ve canoed pretty much every navigable River in the pines. Backpacked most of the trails. Camped over dozens of weekends. I suggest a visit to the Carranza Memorial and Apple Pie Hill. Batsto is beautiful and a trip to Busby’s General Store to grab a snack is a must!

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