Your Local Land Trust
The Ridge and Valley Conservancy has protected more than 3,200 acres of precious space up to date. Our efforts have a positive impact on your air and water quality and provide critical wildlife habitat
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Visit us! Bring your family, friends, children and dogs to disconnect from the noisy world. Enjoy fresh air, sunshine and the view from scenic ridges, lush meadows and wetlands. Our preserves are great places to find peace and enjoy reflection. We offer programs such as hiking, kayaking, yoga and nature education.
The Earth, like the Sun, like the Air, belongs to everyone – and to no one”
~ Edward Abbey
The Kittatinny Ridge and Valley Region, located in the tri-state area of northwest New Jersey, southeast New York, and northeast Pennsylvania, is part of the greater Appalachian Valley and Ridge Province, which stretches southward into Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Known more commonly among New Jerseyans as Kittatinny Mountain and Kittatinny Valley, the Ridge and Valley Region offers some of the most beautiful natural settings in the Garden State. Along with the New Jersey Highlands to its east, this area is popularly known as the “Skylands” and as “bear country,” and provides a sharp contrast to the state’s image as the land of the New Jersey Turnpike, oil refineries, and massive industrial zones. The region is 58% forest, 17% agricultural lands, and 12% wetlands. Urban areas occupy approximately 11% of the region.
Consisting of a network of rugged, elongated ridges, steep slopes, narrow ravines, broad valleys, forested floodplains, and freshwater wetlands, the region provides abundant corridors for wide-ranging mammals, raptors and passerines. With the Delaware River to the west and the Paulinskill, Kittatinny, and Wallkill valleys to the east, the Appalachian Trail runs along the eastern edge of the Kittatinny before turning east across the Wallkill Valley at the New York border. Covering approximately 346,838 acres (542 square miles), the area attracts hikers, campers, birders, fishermen, boaters, hunters, photographers and others who enjoy this wild setting year-round.
Some of the largest protected areas within the region include:
• High Point State Park (15,413 acres)
• Stokes State Forest (15,996 acres)
• Worthington State Forest (6,421 acres)
• Jenny Jump State Forest (4,244 acres)
• Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey portion (31,000 acres)
• Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge (7,100 acres)
• Swartswood State Park (2,272 acres)
• Middle Delaware National Wild and Scenic River
• 12 wildlife management areas (approximately 19,000 total acres)
• Numerous natural areas and preserves managed by The Nature Conservancy and RVC
Why the Region is Important
From the top of High Point at 1,803 feet above sea level in the Kittatinny Mountains, to the valley of shale and limestone that dips to 400 feet above sea level, the region is characterized by a broad array of habitat types that support a wide variety of wildlife species. Kittatinny Ridge spans 35 miles from High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest to the north, to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Worthington State Forest to the south, providing significant forested greenway — with excellent forage, water availability, and proximity to mountains — for wide-ranging mammals such as black bears and bobcats, as well as for red-shouldered hawks and bald eagles.
Most vegetation of the mesic uplands is a contiguous, maturing, mixed hardwoods-oak forest. Hardwoods are deciduous, broad-leaved trees such as maple, birch, ash, aspen, hickory, beech, and American chestnut. Higher elevations and drier ridges are covered with pitch pine scrub oak and mixed oak forest communities. Along the shady slopes, hemlock mixed-hardwood forest is found in ravines created by small streams that flow from the ridge. Rare communities such as Atlantic white cedar swamps and black spruce-tamarack bogs occur sporadically in this region.
One of the most striking features of the Kittatinny mountains are the shale cliff and rock outcrop communities that are infrequent in New Jersey. These harbor communities of rare flora and fauna and provide habitat for the state-threatened timber rattlesnake, among other species. The vegetation composition further down the rock outcroppings, along the slopes, differs from higher elevations, as sugar maple and mixed hardwoods dominate lower elevations. One of the rarest wild orchids in eastern North America, the federally threatened small whorled pogonia, grows on gently sloping ground in the mixed hardwood forests of the region.
East of the ridge, the Kittatinny limestone valley contains a variety of wetland habitats including glacial lakes, wet meadows, sinkhole ponds and vernal pools which are home to the largest concentration of federally threatened bog turtle populations in the state. Several creeks and streams support a healthy population of native eastern brook trout, the state fish of New Jersey, and the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel. To the west of the ridge, the floodplain forests along the Delaware River provide excellent wintering habitat for bald eagles.
Threats to the Region
Although not directly within the New York metropolitan area, the Kittatinny Ridge and Valley is within commuting distance of the city, so residential and commercial development pressures in the area are ongoing. The passage of the Highlands Protection Act in New Jersey has focused attention on the development potential of the Ridge and Valley Region to its west. Loss, alteration, and fragmentation of all habitat types pose the greatest threats to wildlife in this region. In addition, continued development of open space will result in degraded water quality and alteration of wetlands, and has already created negative impacts affecting bog turtles as well as other sensitive species.