The Wild & Scenic Maurice River
National Scenic and Recreational River
Significance of the Maurice River Corridor
The Maurice River corridor is an unusually pristine Atlantic Coastal river with national and internationally 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 pre-historic settlement site. Historically, the Maurice is home to a rich fishing, boating, and oystering heritage. The river supports New Jersey's largest stant 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 Pineland National Reserve and the and the Delaware Estuary -- both nationally and internationally important. The Maurice River serves as the western boundary of the Pinelands. The designated corridor includes the cities of Vineland and Millville, and the townships of Maurice River, Commercial, and Beuna Vista.
About the Wild and Scenic River System
In 1968, Congress passed the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to help protect selected free-flowing rivers that have outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values. Congress envisioned the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System as a cooperative effort relying on the actions of private industries and groups, and on all levels of government. The Act provides communities, where rivers flow across non-federal lands, with a river protection method that is sensitive to local needs and concerns. Although most protected rivers are on federal lands, the number of those flowing through non-federal lands is increasing.
Managing the River Corridor
In October 1994, the Vice President presided at a celebration on the banks of the Maurice River to commemorate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Beuna Vista, Commercial, and Maurice River Townships, the cities of Millville and Vineland, the County of Cumberland, and the National Park Service to implement local river management plans. Each municipality has adopted a local plan and zoning regulations to ensure that only appropriate land uses are developed in the corridor and to protect important natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Consequently, the municipalities remain responsible for day-to-day management of the river corridor. Cumberland County, the National Park Service, and other agencies provide support to the municipalities to ensure that the local river management objectives are met. Federal agencies are prohibited from taking any action that would have a negative impact upon the waterways.
How the Rivers Were Designated
The area of the Maurice and Manumuskin rivers and the Manantico and Muskee creeks is relatively undisturbed. In 1986, real threats and controversial developmental proposals along the Maurice River corridor led local citizens, elected officials, and private non-profit organizations to seek protection of these waters by requesting inclusion of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The National Park Service and the Cumberland County Department of Planning and Development conducted a long public process to complete the required federal documentation for designation and to produce guidelines for local river management plans. On December 1, 1993, the President signed legislation designating 10.3 miles (16.6km) of the Maurice River, 7.9 miles (12.2km) of the Menantico Creek, 14.3 miles (23.0km) of the Manumuskin River, and 2.7 miles (4.3km) of the Muskee Creek into the National Wild and Scenic River System as the Maurice National Scenic and Recreation River.
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.