Forked River Watershed

Forked River Subwatershed

The Forked River subwatershed includes:

  • A portion of Lacey Township
  • A portion of Ocean Township

Watershed Facts

The Forked River has three branches:  the North Branch, the Middle Branch, and the South Branch. The three branches converge as the river flows into the Barnegat Bay estuary.  A major tributary to the North Branch is the Cave Cabin Branch, which originates in the north-western portion of Ocean Township.   The North Branch is where you’ll find three small lakes:  Deer Head Lake, Lake Barnegat, and Cedar Lake — all in Lacey Township (Forked River).

The land in this subwatershed west of the Garden State Parkway is in the New Jersey Pinelands and is undeveloped.  Land east of the Garden State Parkway is heavily developed with residential housing and commercial uses.

Ecological Features

With a large portion of the watershed in the New Jersey Pinelands and a shoreline on the Barnegat Bay estuary, the lands of the Forked River subwatershed boast a wide variety of rich habitats including freshwater bogs in the Pinelands, Atlantic White Cedar and maple gum swamps, freshwater creeks and lakes, tidal saltmarsh, maritime forest, and upland forest.  The diversity of habitats hosts a wide variety of plants and animals integral to the Pine Barrens and estuarine ecosystems, including rare plants like the bog asphodel and threatened and endangered species like the Pine Barrens tree frog and the Northern diamondback terrapin.

The Forked River subwatershed also contains the Forked River Mountains.  The “mountains” themselves are two gravelly hills that rise 187 feet above sea level, forming a ridge between the Cedar Creek and the Forked River subwatersheds. However, the 3,000-acre Forked River Mountain Preserve, managed jointly by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, encompasses unique habitats which host rare plants and animals.  Beaver, otter, mink, and gray fox can also be found throughout the area.

Points of Interest

  • Forked River State Marina, Lacey Township
  • Deer Head Lake, Lacey Township
  • Lake Barnegat, Lacey Township
  • Forked River Mountains Wildlife Management Area, Lacey Township

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