Maurice River and its Tributaries

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Maurice River & Its Tributaries
National Wild & Scenic River
A vital link on the Atlantic flyway, the Maurice boasts New Jersey's largest population of bald eagles

Nearly four centuries ago, a storm-ravaged Dutch windjammer sought shelter at the first major river located near the mouth of the Delaware Bay. The crew of the "Prince Maurice" found the Wahatquenack abundant with oyster beds and fisheries. While exact accounts of the fate of the crew vary, the ship, after being set aflame, sunk near the mouth of the river. This partially submerged vessel became a landmark for other European sea captains and the river became popularly known as the Maurice.

The plentiful natural resources of the Maurice and its two major tributaries, the Manumuskin and the Menantico, have been the life source of southern New Jersey communities. The marshes were cultivated for salt hay; the forests provided raw materials for the shipbuilding era of schooners and sloops; the fine sands bolstered the glassmaking industry.

Today, the rivers and their lands are valued for many reasons. The watershed is the last remaining suitable habitat for bald eagles in the entire state. Numerous threatened and endangered reptiles and amphibians make their home amongst the bluffs and uplands. The quality of the rivers' water provides a habitat for several species of intertidal plants, including the globally endangered sensitive joint vetch. Trapping, hunting, fishing and boating continue to be a vital part of community life.

Significance of the River Corridor

The Maurice River corridor is an unusually pristine Atlantic Coastal river with national and hemispherically important resources. As part of the Atlantic flyway, its clean waters and related habitats are vitally important to the migration of shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, rails, and fish. Other important resources include a rare and endangered joint vetch, shortnose sturgeon and striped bass, and a prehistoric settlement site. Historically, the Maurice is home to a rich fishing, boating, and oystering heritage. The river supports New Jersey's largest stand of wild rice and 53 percent of the animal species that New Jersey has recognized as endangered, excluding marine mammals. The river is a critical link between the Pinelands National Preserve and the Delaware Estuary -- both nationally and internationally important. The Maurice River serves as the western boundary of the Pinelands. The corridor includes the cities of Vineland and Millville, the townships of Maurice River, Commercial, and Buena Vista.

Attractions in the River Corridor

Since public access to the Maurice River is limited, the best place to view the river is from the bridge in Mauricetown. Boat access is available at Millville's Fowser Road Boat Ramp or at a marina. The region offers municipal parks, good family restaurants, and of course, the wonderful New Jersey farm produce available from single family stands or very large roadside markets. There are also many more specialized attractions available to visitors in the vicinity of the river:

Birding
Shorebird migration in May at the Delaware Bay towns of Moore's Beach, East Point, and Thompson's Beach.

Neotropical songbird migration, both spring and fall, around East Point.

Autumn raptor migration around East Point and Delaware Bay.

Waterfowl and wintering raptors; the largest population of bald eagles in New Jersey is on the Maurice River.

Education

Aquaculture Center at Cumberland County College - Vineland
Delaware Bay Schooner Project - Commercial

Festivals
June
Delaware Bay Day - Port Norris
Weak Fish Festival - Port Norris

July
Cumberland County Fair - County Fairgrounds in Millville
4th of July Celebration - Buena Vista Township

August
Jersey Fresh Festival -Vineland

September
Commercial Township Seafood Festival -Mauricetown

Historic Villages and Structures

Dorchester - Swedish settlement of mid-1600's, has been a shipbuilding town for over 200 years.
East Point Lighthouse - built in 1849. Last existing land-based lighthouse in Cumberland Co.
Heislerville - est. early 1800's
Historic Mauricetown - est. cat 1730
Leesburg- est. early 1800's
Maritime Museum - Port Norris
Port Elizabeth - est. 1780

Marinas/Canoe Liveries

Marinas
Commercial (6)
Dorchester (1)
Heislerville (3)
Leesburg (2)
Port Elizabeth (1)

Canoes
Upper Maurice
Vineland

Recreation

Belleplain State Forest - Maurice River Township Camping & recreation - Buena Vista Township Cumberland Pond - Maurice River Township
Delaware Bay - Maurice River Township
Eastlyn Golf Course - Vineland
Farm Markets throughout the area
Mauricetown Waterfront Park
Moore's Beach - Maurice River Township
NJ Coastal Heritage Trail
Thompsons Beach - Maurice River Township Union Lake - Millville
West Side Park on the Maurice River -Vineland

Wildlife Management Areas/Preserves

Bevan Wildlife Management Area (boat access)
Laurel Lake
Heislerville Wildlife Management Area
Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area (boat ramp) - Millville
Peaslee Wildlife Management Area - typical Pine Barrens flora and fauna at Cumberland Pond
The Pinelands - most of Maurice Township, eastern Vineland, and Buena Vista Township, are within the Pinelands National Preserve. The Manumuskin drainage basin, with its headwaters in Buena Vista is one of the most botanically significant areas in New Jersey, harbors 32 rare plants. The reptile and mammal diversity is unusual, and 15 of New Jersey's 25 threatened and endangered bird species breed here. However, these areas are neither marked nor readily accessible.
Turkey Point Fish & Wildlife Mgmt. Area - Commercial Township
Union Lake Fish & Wildlife Management Area - Millville

Miscellaneous

Army Air Force Museum - Millville
Schooner restoration - Port Norris
Tours of oyster shucking houses - Bivalve/Shellpile
Wheaton Village - a recreated village depicting historic glass making industry; Museum of American Class houses finest collection of glassware in the country - Millville
Maritime Heritage: Maritime Traditions of the Delaware Bay (indoor exhibit) - Port Norris; Active boat building operations and remnants of a long maritime heritage add to the charm and character of the region; Maritime Traditions of the Delaware Bay Museum; Delaware Bay Schooner Project
Great Egg Harbor Wild and Scenic River


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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