In 1993, the Maurice River and several tributaries including Menantico and Muskee Creeks and the Manumuskin River were added to the National Wild and Scenic River System. The Maurice (pronounced "morris") River corridor is an unusually pristine Atlantic Coastal river with national and internationally important resources. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, its clean waters and related habitats are vitally important to the migration of shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, rails, and fish. Other important resources include a rare and endangered joint vetch, shortnose sturgeon, striped bass, and a pre-historic settlement site. Historically, the Maurice is home to a rich fishing, boating, and oystering heritage. The Maurice River flows through what was once an oyster harvesting town; you can still see buildings and activities related to this industry. The river supports New Jersey's largest stand of wild rice and 53% of the animal species that New Jersey has recognized as endangered, excluding marine mammals.
The Maurice River is a critical link between the Pinelands National Reserve and the Delaware Estuary both nationally and internationally important. The Maurice River corridor serves as the western boundary of the Pinelands and includes the cities of Vineland and Millville, and the Townships of Maurice River, Commercial, and Buena Vista. The Maurice River is located near the urban centers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trenton and Camden, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware.
December 1, 1993. The segment from the U.S. Geological Survey Station at Shellpile to the south side of the Millville sewage treatment plant. The tributaries designated include: Menantico Creek from its confluence with the Maurice River to the base of the Impoundment at Menantico Lake; the Manumuskin River from its confluence with the Maurice to its headwaters near Route 557; and Muskee Creek from its confluence with the Maurice River to the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Line Railroad Bridge.
Cumberland County’s heritage is steeped in the history of the Lenape people and the European settlers who came later. It was the rich natural resource base of the County that shaped its first European settlements. Villages developed around the fishing, seafaring, and oystering industries. The waterways of the Cohansey and Maurice Rivers provided commerce and trade with cities and other communities in the region and along the east coast. The many deposits of silica sand promoted the development of glass manufacturing in Millville and Bridgeton. Fertile soils and a mild climate enabled the farming industry to develop in Vineland and the rural western parts of the County. Recreational opportunities helped make Fortescue one of southern New Jersey’s finest resort communities at the turn of the century.
In a regional context, the designated area functions as an important biological link between the Pinelands and the Delaware Bay. The river drains extensive forest and shrub wetlands. Their shorelines and the shorelines of their small tributaries are dominated by woody vegetation that overhangs the banks and shades the water, maintaining low water temperatures, trapping sediment and other pollutants, and delivering fine-to-coarse organic matter to the streams in a manner characteristic of undisturbed riverine systems. Very high-quality water is delivered to the Delaware Bay by the Maurice River system.
The fishery resources of the Maurice River and adjacent Delaware Bay have traditionally provided great economic and recreational benefits to residents and visitors to the area. There is extensive recreational fishing for striped bass, largemouth bass, and perch.
The Maurice River and its tributaries function as a critical migration-related habitat for shorebirds, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, rails, and fish. The wild rice wetlands are an important migratory stopover and wintering area for over 13,000 waterfowl. At least 230 species of birds have been recorded, with 92 confirmed breeding in the watershed. Many of the spring migratory birds also gather along the mud flats of the Maurice River area to feed.