The nation’s first and only "national reserve," the Pinelands of New Jersey is located in the middle of the densely populated urban corridor between New York City and Philadelphia. Possessing vast quantities of pure groundwater, distinct flora and fauna, and a fascinating history of human occupancy and resource exploitation, the Pine Barrens is managed by a 15-member commission appointed at the federal, state, and local level. In his discussion of the implementation of the Pinelands Commission’s regional plan, Robert Mason explores the changing politics of place and the associated conflicts of interest that have emerged.
The Pinelands program is widely viewed as a land-use and regional planning experiment of national significance. While the commission is sustained by legislative and gubernatorial support and an absence of well-organized public opposition, it still has had to accommodate community and rural entrepreneurial interests. In order to convey some sense of the social, political, and economic texture of the Pinelands, Mason examines three communitiesWoodland Township, Hamilton Township, and Manchester Township.
The Pinelands experience offers a unique model for the management of valued places across the nation and provides valuable lessons about the human problems that confront ecologically-driven planning schemes with human settlement patterns, political subdivisions, and economic systems.