The site is located in Downe Township between the Millville Wildlife Management Area and the Glades Wildlife Refuge. The site contains two extensive hardwood swamp forests, Bear Swamp West and Bear Swamp East, which together make up the Bear Swamp Natural Heritage Priority Site. These sites are designated by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as the state?s most significant natural areas. Bear Swamp West is owned and managed by Natural Lands Trust and contains rare, old-growth forest with trees dating back up to 500 years. Bear Swamp East Natural Area is owned and managed by NJDEP?s Office of Natural Lands Management.

Ornithological Summary

Conservation Concern - State-endangered: Bald Eagle (B)

Conservation Concern - State-threatened: Bald Eagle (W)

Conservation Concern - State-endangered: Red-Shouldered Hawk (B)

Conservation Concern - State-threatened: Barred Owl (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Mixed Upland Forest: Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo, Whip-poor-will, Great Crested Flycatcher, Black-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Flicker, Black-and-white Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Broad-winged Hawk, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Wild Turkey, Acadian Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Common Grackle (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 30 Forested Wetland: Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Chimney Swift, Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Mallard, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Fish Crow (B)

Conservation Issues

While most of Bear Swamp is protected as open space, activities threatening the integrity of the site include the expansion of adjacent sand-mining operations and extensive off-road vehicle (ORV) use. Increased patrol of the area by conservation officers is needed to deter uncontrolled ORV traffic at Bear Swamp. Protection and restoration of privately-owned parcels adjacent to Bear Swamp is necessary to prevent residential development from reducing habitat quality and availability. This can be accomplished by promoting landowner incentives for protecting and managing habitat and by prioritizing parcels for acquisition. Natural Lands Trust, a regional nonprofit conservation organization, owns a significant portion of this IBA and is currently negotiating to purchase and protect more of the adjacent lands. Monitoring of Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) has been conducted within the Bear Swamp Natural Area for 15 years. Although there are fluctuations within populations from year to year, Bear Swamp appears to be a stable community for forest breeding birds.


The Natural Lands Trust owns about 350 acrea and the State of New Jersey owns much of the rest. A small portion is in provate hands.
Owned By: NJ Natural Lands Trust
Contact: Steve Eisenhauer, Regional Director
1031 Palmers Mill Road
Media, PA
19063 Phone: (610) 353-5587

Also owned by: State of NJ (Fish & Wildlife)
Contact: Tony Petrongolo, Chief of Lands Mgmt.
PO Box 400
Trenton, NJ
Phone: (609) 984-1401


Deciduous and mixed forested wetlands and uplands

Land Use

The primary use of the site is as a land trust and a natural area. It is also used by locals and tourists as a recreation area for boating, birding, ATV riding and other purposes. A small portion of the property is in private hands.

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