The Pinelands Field Station Main Office
The Pinelands Field Station Main Office (Photo: Gary Colyer Jr.)

The Pinelands Field Station’s formal association with Rutgers University dates to 1985 when the Rutgers Division of Pinelands Research obtained a 10-year lease on the facility from the U.S. Forest Service and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.

The station’s origins, though, date to 1932 with the establishment of Lebanon Experimental Forest and the construction of the main building, part of the garage and a fire tower by the Forest Service.

The station was originally known as the Allegheny Forest Experiment Station (Lebanon Forest Branch Station), but is now part of the Forest Service’s Northeastern Forest Experiment Station.

Silas Little, a research forester with the Forest Service and the first station director, was instrumental in setting up the earliest research in the N.J. Pine Barrens using prescribed fire to reduce wildfire hazard and to promote tree growth.

The fire tower was later removed and various additions and outbuilding and a greenhouse have been added since. The Division of Pinelands Research continues to make physical improvements to the station.

Timeline of the Field Station

1932 a 240-hectare experimental forest is designated within the Brendan Byrne State Forest.

1930s The U.S. Forest Service builds the main field station building, a garage and a fire tower on the site.

1936-1937 The cabin is moved to the site from Medford Lakes as part of a WPA project.

1981 Rutgers Professor Dr. Ralph E. Good contributes to the creation of Rutgers Division of Pinelands Research

1985 The Rutgers Division of Pinelands Research obtains a 10-year lease on the facility from the Forest Service and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, moving from offices in the Pinelands Commission building.

1987 A new analytical laboratory is installed at the site through a National Science Foundation Field Station improvement grant.  The lab is dedicated to Ralph’s advisor, Rutgers Professor Murray F. Buell. 

1991 Dr. Mark Morgan becomes acting director upon the death of Dr. Ralph Good.

1992 Dennis Gray becomes manager of the field station.  

1994 Dr. John Dighton becomes director.

1995 The Division of Pinelands Research renegotiates the lease, allowing for indefinite use of the facility.

1995 A microscopy laboratory is set up.

2001 A molecular biology laboratory is set up.

2005 A new dormitory with a fire suppression system is installed, funded by an NSF Field Station improvement grant.

2005 The Forest Service renovates the cabin as an office and base station for a pine barrens forest carbon flux tower and fire modeling network.

2012 The Forest Service renovates the station garage to add two offices and a large classroom.

2012 The existing microscopy and molecular laboratory lab are replaced with a larger facility offering expanded workspace for station personnel and visiting researchers.

2017 Dr. Dennis Gray retires as Field Station Manager and Dr. Katie Malcolm becomes Field Station Manager.