More than 2,300 acres in the state-designated Pinelands were preserved in the past year, including more than 500 acres in Mullica Township around the historic Amatol munitions plant that briefly played a role in World War I, according to a Pinelands Commission report.
The newly preserved land brings the total Pinelands area preserved to 463,000 acres, said Pinelands Commission Chief Planner Susan Grogan.
She said advocates for preserving part of the Amatol tract worked for 10 years to complete the funding to make it happen, but it was only in the last year that state Green Acres funds made it possible.
The original Amatol site was 6,000 acres and included a grid of residential streets and worker housing sited about two miles from the munitions factories.
It opened in July 1918, then World War I ended Nov. 11, 1918, and the facility was shuttered and many of its buildings scrapped.
Only two buildings from Amatol still stand: the administration building became the now-abandoned State Police barracks near Hammonton on the White Horse Pike, and one of the houses was moved to another site on the White Horse Pike, where it’s still occupied.
The commission is building a Pinelands Visitor Center at its Pemberton headquarters, but that has been held up by the need to get permits from the state to renovate the building, said Leakan. The state owns the building, he said.
In February 2016, the commission awarded a $368,849 contract to Drill Construction of West Orange, Essex County, to create and install exhibits in the Richard J. Sullivan Center for Environmental Policy and Education.
The exhibits were designed with funding from the National Park Service. The commission is funding the fabrication and installation of exhibits from the Education and Outreach component of the Pinelands Conservation Fund, the commission has said.
At their meeting Friday, the commissioners also approved projects to create a 49-space commuter parking lot at the Exit 58 interchange of the Garden State Parkway; ordinances expanding uses and parcels in Galloway Township’s R5C cluster district; and a Maurice Township ordinance to create a Pinelands business zone for a single four-acre lot that had been a boat repair and storage yard, and to allow its developer to install an advanced treatment septic system there.