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Senate Approves Sweeney & Diegnan Measure to Rename Wildlife Conservation Area to Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve

TRENTON – The Senate today passed a measure to rename the Dismal Swamp Conservation Area in honor of the late Peter J. Barnes III, the former Assemblyman and Senator who championed efforts to preserve the site.

Under the bill, S-3919, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Patrick Diegnan, the Dismal Swamp and the Dismal Swamp Preservation Commission would be renamed as the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preserve and the Peter J. Barnes III Wildlife Preservation Commission, respectively.

“Pete Barnes left us far too soon, and I can think of no better way to honor his life and legacy than this renaming,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Because of his advocacy, 660 acres of land are preserved. More importantly, hundreds of birds and dozens of other endangered species have protection. With this renaming, New Jerseyans, particularly residents of Middlesex County, will forever remember the incredible work of Pete Barnes.”

The Dismal Swamp Conservation Area (DSCA) is the largest natural area remaining in northern Middlesex County, spanning portions of Edison, Metuchen, and South Plainfield. It is also known as “The Everglades of Central New Jersey.” According to the DSCA Commission, the area is home to 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.

“Pete Barnes was successful in so many areas, but his work to preserve open space and protect the Dismal Swamp were crowning achievements,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This renaming ensures that his efforts in these areas are remembered and honored for generations to come.”

Peter J. Barnes III was a lifelong resident of Edison who served on the Edison Township Town Council for a decade before his election to the State Legislature. He served in the Assembly from 2007-2014, and then in the Senate from 2014-2016. Barnes left the Senate to serve as a Middlesex County Superior Court Judge. He passed away in February of this year.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 38-0 and sent to the Governor for final approval.