History of Tall Pines
Tall Pines went through many changes before it became the much-loved nature preserve it is today
A Varied Past
This 111-acre parcel of land that straddles Mantua and Deptford Townships in Gloucester County was originally forested woodlands, then an asparagus field before it became a golf course in the early 1950s. The course became the first in the world to offer “nighttime golf” on an illuminated course. Tall Pines was purchased by former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski in 1984 and renamed “Ron Jaworski’s Eagles’ Nest.” The parcel eventually became Maple Ridge Golf Course and then was purchased by a development company in 2006, which obtained preliminary approvals to build 123 housing units on the property.
From Golf Course to Nature Sanctuary
The golf course was allowed to lie fallow, which created a wonderful meadow habitat for songbirds, migratory birds, bald eagles, and other wildlife. This untouched habitat area is especially important in this area of New Jersey, which is typically heavily developed. SJLWT and other groups recognized the importance of preserving this land, which led to the preservation efforts beginning in full force in 2008. The Friends of Maple Ridge (now Friends of Tall Pines, a Committee of SJLWT) was formed to raise money, advocate on behalf of the property, and spread the word about the preservation. This group sold “Save Maple Ridge” T-shirts at festivals and Community Days, posted yard signs all over Mantua, Deptford and Wenonah, and helped raise over $140,000 to preserve the land.
The Friends of Tall Pines (FTP), with SJLWT, is now an Officially Recognized Friends Organization by the State of New Jersey Parks Division. FTP sponsors volunteer projects to enhance Tall Pines, leads educational programs, and organizes events. Members of FTP automatically become members of SJLWT (Become a SJLWT Member Here!)
The property was officially preserved in November, 2015, and the Dedication Ceremony was held on June 20, 2016; watch the video here.