The SJLWT started out as two separate organizations. But the two groups quickly realized they could make a bigger impact by joining forces
In 2006, the current iteration of the South Jersey Land & Water Trust was formed by the merger of two non-profits, the Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds and the South Jersey Land Trust. Both organizations had worked together for many years in a variety of ways, including conducting land preservation and education projects together and publishing a joint newsletter. Merging into a single entity was a natural next step. The newly formed organization combined the missions of both groups into its singular mission, which is to preserve and protect the land and water resources of southern New Jersey.
South Jersey Land Trust
The South Jersey Land Trust (SJLT) was founded in 1991 by a diverse group of citizens concerned about the lack of grass roots land preservation efforts in the South Jersey region. Working as an all-volunteer organization, the SJLT permanently preserved over 1,400 acres of land during its existence. The Trust worked cooperatively with government agencies, and was awarded a non-profit Planning Incentive Grant through NJDEP’s Green Acres Program. This grant provided 50% funding for preservation projects within SJLT’s project area of Raccoon and Oldmans Creek watersheds in Gloucester and Salem Counties.
The Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds
Founded in 1993, the Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds was originally intended as an umbrella organization that would support and help establish watershed associations on each of the eight watersheds within Gloucester County. The individual watershed associations had pulled their organizations more closely together through shared programs, newsletter, advocacy, education, membership, and administration. Most of these organizations were run solely by volunteers, and found that their close collaboration helped them to have a greater voice within the local region as well as at county and state levels.
The Federation’s principal focus was on education and public outreach about water and watershed issues. In 1997 the first water-oriented festival, “WaterFest,” was held at Scotland Run Park, organized in conjunction with the Gloucester County Department of Parks and Recreation. The Federation modified its by-laws to enable it to act as a land preservation trust, working closely with the South Jersey Land Trust. The first preservation project done collaboratively was the acquisition of the Lodge property, which sits along the Mantua Creek in West Deptford Township.
In 2006, the two organizations merged to form the South Jersey Land & Water Trust. In 2009, the South Jersey Land & Water Trust acquired the Oldmans Creek Preserve property in Auburn, New Jersey, and in 2017 moved into the historic Scull house on the Preserve grounds.