EDISON, NJ - State Sen. Patrick Diegnan, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak were recently joined by local elected officials and environmental groups in hailing a $200,000 state appropriation championed by the 18th district legislators to complete the scope of work needed by “Dismal Swamp Preservation Act” to survey the boundaries and properly enact the Master Plan for the region.
The money could also be used for access trails, signage, restoration initiatives, and educational and natural heritage programs.
“The Dismal Swamp is a living museum to residents of what the frontier of New Jersey was more than a hundred years ago,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This budget measure affords the Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission the ability to properly survey the area and take a comprehensive long range approach to protecting the ecosystem of this local and natural treasure.”
“The future generations of children and their families deserve to enjoy the quiet and solace provided by our very own local oasis,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin. “This grant secured by my colleagues and I will enable us to better protect our district's largest natural resource and increase greater public access for constituents to enjoy hiking and biking along the Middlesex Greenway.”
More Than 1,200 Acres
“Dismal Swamp is Edison’s largest wetland and hardwood forest preserve. It is an environmental jewel among my town’s many parks and open spaces,” Karabinchak said. “I am proud to help secure new state funding for this vital natural habitat.”
The Dismal Swamp stretches through over 1,200 acres of hardwood forests, EPA-designated Priority Wetlands, and wild meadows in South Plainfield, Metuchen and Edison and is home to countless different wildlife species and many archaeological artifacts. The 9-member commission created by the “Dismal Swamp Preservation Act” was tasked with creating a regional Master Plan to prevent further encroachment and has regulatory authority over the swamp.
“The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs is proud to have helped make this state appropriation possible for this important nature preserve,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. “Whether it’s for hydrological studies, environmental consulting, or integrating technology into the Dismal Swamp’s programs, the funding will be put to good use for current and future generations.”
“We have lost too many pristine areas of New Jersey already,” said Dorothy Rasmussen, chair of the Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission and Metuchen councilwoman. “The Dismal Swamp is the only natural area left in our area, and we applaud Senator Diegnan, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblyman Karabinchak for tirelessly working to preserve and restore this jewel in densely populated Central New Jersey”.
'Breathtaking Natural Beauty'
“The 1600 acre Dismal Swamp Conservation Area (DSCA) invites central Jersey children and families to the largest outdoor classroom in northern Middlesex County,” said Robert Spiegel, Executive Director of the Edison Wetlands Association. “In one of the most densely populated states, this innovative Master Plan restores breathtaking natural beauty into our backyards; introducing central New Jersey families to their newest natural neighbor.”
Dismal Swamp provides a habitat for 175 species of birds, 25 species of mammals and 25 species of amphibians and reptiles. It is also home to numerous trees and plants, many designated as rare, threatened or endangered. Archaeological digs in Dismal Swamp have unearthed artifacts, including ones found to be over 10,000 years old.
Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios said: “On behalf of the entire Board, I thank Senator Diegnan, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblyman Karabinchak for leading the charge on this important environmental issue. My fellow Freeholders and I have worked diligently over the years to preserve additional lands within the most ecologically important area of the County. The survey will help us refine and prioritize future acquisitions.”
Freeholder Deputy Director Charles Tomaro, liaison to the Open Space and Recreation Public Advisory Committee, said: “This is great news for my hometown of Edison and for all of Middlesex County. The Dismal Swamp provides flood water retention and improves water quality throughout the area. I applaud all the partners in this endeavor.”
"The Dismal Swamp is the hidden ecological gem of Central Jersey -- it is exactly the place we need to protect and expand access to the public," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. "The places we protect don't happen by accident --- we need vigilant local leaders like Senator Diegnan, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblywoman Karabinchak to fight for funding for our ecological treasures."
Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission members include Metuchen Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen, Edison Councilman Robert Diehl, Freeholder Charles Tomaro, environmentalists Walter R. Stochel Jr. and Robert Spiegel, both of Edison; Kenneth Sammond, of Metuchen; South Plainfield Councilman Robert Bengivenga of South Plainfield and Dunellen Mayor Robert Seader.