South Jersey Land & Water Trust History
In 2006, the current iteration of the South Jersey Land & Water Trust was formed by the merger of two non-profits, the Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds and the South Jersey Land Trust. Both organizations had worked together for many years in a variety of ways, including conducting land preservation and education projects together and publishing a joint newsletter. Merging into a single entity was a natural next step, and the newly formed organization combined the missions of both groups into its singular mission, which is to preserve and protect the land and water resources of southern New Jersey.
SOUTH JERSEY LAND TRUST
The South Jersey Land Trust (SJLT) was founded in 1991 by a diverse group of citizens concerned about the lack of grass roots land preservation efforts in the South Jersey region. Working as an all-volunteer organization, the SJLT permanently preserved over 1,400 acres of land during its existence. The Trust worked cooperatively with government agencies, and was awarded non-profit Planning Incentive Grant through NJDEP’s Green Acres Program. This grant provided 50% funding for preservation projects within SJLT’s project area of Raccoon and Oldman Creek watersheds in Gloucester and Salem Counties.
THE FEDERATION OF GLOUCESTER COUNTY WATERSHEDS
Founded in 1993, the Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds was originally intended as an umbrella organization that would support and help establish watershed associations on each of the eight watersheds within Gloucester County. The individual watershed associations had pulled their organizations more closely together through shared programs, newsletter, advocacy, education, membership, and administration. Most of these organizations were run solely by volunteers, and found that their close collaboration helped them to have a greater voice within the local region as well as at county and state levels.
The Federation’s principal focus was on education and public outreach about water and watershed issues. In 1997 the first water-oriented festival, “WaterFest,” was held at Scotland Run Park, organized in conjunction with the Gloucester County Department of Parks and Recreation. The Federation modified its by-laws to enable it to act as a land preservation trust, working closely with the South Jersey Land Trust. The first preservation project done collaboratively was the acquisition of the Lodge property, which sits along the Mantua Creek in West Deptford Township.
By 2004, the Federation had published “A Teacher’s Guide to the Watersheds of Gloucester County,” with funding from Rowan University, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the Watershed Institute of the Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association. This book provides extensive information about Gloucester watersheds and the threats to them. It is provided free of charge to area teachers. It is also available for free download by clicking here.
In 2006, the two organization merged to form the South Jersey Land & Water Trust. To see SJLWT‘s accomplishments since its founding in 2006, click here.