Watershed Why is this
important? Sources of
The Salem River Watershed (117 square miles) and the Delaware River Estuary (23 square miles) cover one-third of Salem County, making it the largest watershed within the county and the largest within management area #17. Thirteen of the county's fifteen municipalities are wholly or partially within this watershed. Nearly 54,000 of the County's 67,500 residents live within the watershed on 13% of the land. The largest natural feature is Mannington Meadows (20,020 acres (3.2 square miles)). There are a total of 414 miles of mapped rivers and streams within the watershed.
Based on 1995/1997 land use/land cover data (source: NJDEP), 43% (38,590 acres) of the watershed is in agriculture, 9.3% (8,375 acres) is forested, 33.5% (30,100 acres) is water or wetlands and 13.3% (11,900 acres) is urban. From 1986 to 1997 the amount of acres of agricultural and wetland loss to the watershed is 1325 and 260 acres respectively. Urban and developed areas have increased by 990 acres. On a county-wide basis, Salem County has lost approximately 8,300 acres of farmland, 1750 acres of wetlands (coastal and inland) and gained over 9,300 acres of developed land (CRSSA, landscape project) over the same time period. Agriculture still maintains a strong base in the county; however, these changes in land cover/land use reflect rends seen throughout the state.