Jackson is part of the Barnegat Bay watershed. A watershed is the land area draining to a particular body of water. The Barnegat Bay watershed, which is approximately 670 square miles in size, lies almost entirely within Ocean County. The headwaters of two important rivers, the Toms River and the Metedeconk River, are both located in Jackson. The Toms River subwatershed is 124 square miles, the largest drainage area of any river in the Barnegat Bay watershed, and the Metedeconk River subwatershed is the second largest.
The streams on the Purple Heart Trail flow into the Dove Mill Branch of the Toms River, which passes through Bunker Hill Bogs on its way to the bay. This stream’s reddish-brown or “tea-colored” water (also called “cedar” water) is typical of Pine Barrens streams, a result of high iron content and tannins leached out of leaves and bark by the acidic water.
The streams and wet soils at Bunker Hill Bogs made it an ideal place for growing cranberries. Native Americans used wild cranberries as food (they mixed cranberries with deer meat as a way to preserve it) and medicine for centuries. In the 1800’s, farmers in New Jersey began growing cultivated cranberries and selling them to ship merchants. Sailors on long voyages needed vitamin C to prevent scurvy. Cranberries were an ideal source, since they are both high in vitamin C and store well for long periods. Bunker Hill Bogs was one of several successful cranberry bogs located in Jackson, an important center of the early cranberry industry.
Cranberries are no longer grown commercially in Jackson, but former cranberry bogs like Bunker Hill Bogs and Pleasant Grove Bogs are important open space areas that protect the streams feeding into the Toms and Metedeconk Rivers. Clean water is important for people and wildlife. The Metedeconk River is a source of drinking water for downstream communities, including Brick and Point Pleasant. Both rivers are stocked in certain areas with trout in the spring. Fish, birds, mammals, and other wildlife in the watershed need clean water to survive and thrive.
Wherever you live in Jackson, you’re not far from a stream. As water-absorbing natural features (like forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands) have been replaced by hard surfaces (like buildings, streets, and parking lots), rain water carries more pollution (like litter, fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste) down storm drains and into our streams. Help keep our water clean by making your yard a pollution-free zone!
Barnegat Bay Partnership
Website of the National Estuary Program has information and resources about the bay.