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.

The Flatbrook-Roy

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.

Red Shouldered Hawk. Photo by Donna Traylor

You can pursue activities other than hunting and fishing on management areas. Birders will find habitats from wetlands to mountain ridges to seek out species for their life-lists. Nature photographers and wildlife viewers also benefit from this diversity. Cross country skiers will find many woods roads suitable for exploration, as will hikers and mountain bikers. Users should be aware of when hunting seasons are in effect. Since hunting is not allowed on Sundays it is probably the best day to enjoy the areas during any of the hunting seasons. Information on seasons dates is available in the Fish and Wildlife DIGEST, available at most sporting goods stores and Division offices.

Mountain biking is allowed on existing trails and secondary roads on wildlife management areas from March 1 to April 15 and June 1 to September 15, as well as all Sundays throughout the year. Bikes are permitted to use major designated trails, like the Highlands Trail that passes through Berkshire Valley and Wildcat Ridge WMAs, year round. They are prohibited, however, from riding over any dam, wildlife food area, cultivated fields, lawns, gardens and fire break plow-lines. Bikers are also prohibited from establishing any new trails through the destruction of existing vegetation.

Get out and explore some of New Jersey's wildest lands. For more information about wildlife management areas contact the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center, 605 Pequest Rd., Oxford, NJ 07863-9748, or call 908-637-4125. NJ Fish and Game

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

Wildlife Management Areas

Hunterdon County

Acres/ Facilities

Amwell Lake 22/ Fish, Hunt, Car-top boat launch
Capoolong Creek 62/ Fish
Clinton 1476/ Fish, Hunt, Practice Ranges
Ken Lockwood Gorge 256/ Fish (Special Fly Fishing Regulations), Hunt
Kingwood Access 6/ Fish

Morris County

Acres/ Facilities

Berkshire Valley 1829/ Fish, Hunt
Black River 3071/ Fish, Hunt
Rockaway River 2500/ Fish
Wildcat Ridge 2653/ Hunt

Sussex County

Acres/ Facilities

Bear Swamp 2054/ Fish, Hunt
Culvers Brook Access 4/ Fish (HC Accessible), Practice Range
Flatbrook-Roy 1794/ Fish, Hunt
Hainesville 282/ Fish, Hunt
Hamburg Mountain 2640/ Fish, Hunt
Little Flatbrook Access 4/ Fish
Paulinskill 613/ Fish, Hunt
Sparta Mountain 1742/ Fish, Hunt
Walpack 388/ Fish, Hunt
Weldon Brook 828/ Hunt, Natural Area
Whittingham 1753/ Hunt

Warren County

Acres/ Facilities

Belvidere Access 20/ Fish, Car-top boat launch
Columbia Lake 83/ Fish, Hunt, Car-top boat launch
Holland Church Access 8/ Fish
Musconetcong River Access 324/ Fish
Pequest 2301/ Fish, Accessible Fishing Site, Hunt, Visitor Center, Practice Range
Pequest River Access 20/ Fish
Rockport Pheasant Farm 498/ Display Pens
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Comments

michael sheridan
22 Apr 2012, 11:56
THERE IS A WHITE ROBIN RIGHT HERE IN OUR AREA,IT HAS A MATE AND THEY USE THE BIRD BATH IN MY DAUGHTER'S BACK YARD\r\n\r\nIS THIS A RARE OCCURANCE FOR THE APPEARANCE OF A WHITE ROBIN.\r\n\r\n21 APRIL 2012 M.S.
Michael
28 Jul 2010, 14:49
I would like to know which of these areas are recommended to visit at this time of year. end-of -July. Somewhere in Southern New Jersey. I am interested in \r\nWater Fowl/shore birds
emily o'shea
23 Jul 2009, 14:18
dear sirs:\r\n i love to take sunrise and sunset photos of nj wildllife. i have some beautirul pics of turkeypoint , (DOWNETOWNSHIP). i would love to share these with others whom would like to enjoy a once in a life time dream. please tell me how to share these wonders with you and others. thank you EMILY O'SHEA
Ken Trevorrow
07 Nov 2008, 08:12
i have been trying to reach N.J. Fish and Game.This to let you know of a black bear disturbance at 106 Flanders Bartley ,Flanders ,between 2:00 and 6pm on 11/06/08...a small refridgerator was opened and the contents was eaten. the refer. was ton anopen back porch..a bird feeder and suet feeders 8ft off the ground were pulled down and destroyed....we have seen bears here often but no problem with them up to now.
John Amato
03 Aug 2008, 08:27
I am very interested in knowing how the boundries of the Berkshire Management Area affect Mount Arlington..... particularly in relation to the lower portion along Howard Blvd. Does the "management area" actually cross Howard Blvd, near what has been known as Pennington Woods? Also, has any portion of the preserve ever been developed in the past? I had been told by someone that there used to be a munitions plant on that location, though I think that they have confused it with the Herculese plant location.
Mapmaster
13 Mar 2008, 11:04
I have created many maps of WMAs and public lands in NJ. I offer them via my website free to anyone who wants to come and look at them. the page is:\r\nhttp://www.freemapsource.com\r\n\r\nIf you need something mapped let me know and I will try to add it.
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