Welcome to NJ Dismal Swamp
Known as the "Everglades of Central New Jersey," the Dismal Swamp Conservation Area (DSCA) is the largest natural area remaining in northern Middlesex County, spanning portions of Edison, Metuchen, and South Plainfield.
The Dismal Swamp serves as a natural oasis holding United States Environmental Protection Agency Federal Priority Wetlands status. The Dismal Swamp is home to over 175 species of birds, and two dozen species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, as well as a dozen threatened and endangered species such as the American bittern, bald eagle, and spotted turtle. The Dismal Swamp also provides natural flood control, while its forests produce oxygen, and its wetlands clean and purify water. Our mission is to protect and preserve all remaining land in the DSCA for the benefit of Middlesex County families and endangered wildlife.
Dismal Swamp Master Plan
"The Conservation Area Management Plan outlines short term and long term stewardship recommendations for the Dismal Swamp which specifically address: identifying areas where invasive plant species should be eradicated; enhancing the existing trail networks and park signs; conducting additional seasonal wildlife surveys; evaluating stormwater impacts to the Dismal Swamp and potential stormwater mitigation measures; and restoring specific wetland areas. In addition, the report outlines strategies to assist in prioritizing parcels for future open space acquisitions and coordinating efforts with local municipalities, the county, the NJDEP Green Acres program, and land trust organizations to secure appropriate funding."
See below for full Dismal Swamp Master Plan and supporting documents.
History of the DSCA
Small bands of "paleo-Indians", or prehistoric people, lived in New Jersey during the Ice Age. They lived by fishing and hunting mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers, caribou, musk oxen, wild pigs, deer, and bears. Spear points and ax heads have been found throughout central New Jersey that experts have dated to 8,000 - 10,000 years old. Five important archeological sites were identified in the Dismal Swamp near the crossing of Talmadge Road and Bound Brook, where similar artifacts were discovered. The later generations were known as the Leni Lenape people. The Lenape were an agricultural society and farmed maize, beans, and gourds, and supplemented their livelihood with hunting and fishing. A tribe of Lenape Native Americans living in central New Jersey was called Raritaing, from which the name "Raritan" was derived. The name "Metuchen" first appeared in 1688/1689, and its name was derived from a Lenape chief known as Matouchin.
The Province of New Jersey was part of the Dutch New Netherlands colony until the English conquest in 1664. The Metuchen-Edison-South Plainfield region was always a transportation hub, which shaped its popularity and growth. The early settlers farmed, fished, hunted, and trapped beaver and muskrats, logged, or were merchants. A sawmill and gristmill were established on nearby Cedar Brook in Edison in 1732. Colonial development near Metuchen began around the 1750s when well-established Native American trails served as carriage routes to New Brunswick, Trenton, New York City, and Philadelphia. These routes led to roadways and commercial rail and highway corridors. Historical maps and records indicate that in the early 1800s the region was sparsely populated with only a few buildings in the Boroughs of Metuchen and South Plainfield. However, by the 1840s, the Metuchen railroad station spurred commercial and residential development.