New Jersey’s natural landscape supports an amazing array of habitats that provide critical services including flood storage, water and air filtration, recreation, and support for wildlife including endangered, threatened and special concern species. New Jersey’s Landscape Project, was initiated by New Jersey’s Endangered & Nongame Species Program in 1994, to document habitat for threatened and endangered species—such as the bog turtle, Indiana bat, bobcat, and red-shouldered hawk—and “serve as a tool to help facilitate growth patterns more sensitive to the needs of wildlife and their habitats.” (NJDFW 2017, 6) The associated maps provide a “foundation for proactive land use planning” and can be used to “minimize conflict and protect imperiled species.” (NJDFW 2017, 8)
The Raritan Basin and bay encompass two landscape regions identified in the Landscape Project – the Piedmont Plains landscape and the Skylands landscape. The Piedmont Plains landscape includes portions of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces while the Skylands landscape region primarily covers the Highlands and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces.
Landscape Project data layers are classified in five ranks that are linked to species-specific habitat patches. Rank 1 includes habitat that is suitable for endangered, threatened or special concern wildlife species but for which no occurrence of these species have been documented. Rank 2 is for habitat patches where species of special concern have been documented. Rank 3 identifies habitat where State threatened species have been documented. Rank 4 is assigned to habitat with documented occurrences of State endangered species. Rank 5 is for habitat patches with documented occurrences of Federally listed endangered or threatened species.
Protection of Landscape Project areas ranked 3, 4, and 5 not only protect habitat for the region’s at-risk species, but also preserves habitat that provides services critical to clean and resilient water resources.
Over 50% of the total Raritan Basin serves as potential habitat for threatened and endangered species or species of conservation concern.