Far from the gas tanks, chemical plants and toll booths that have come to define the state in the minds of many, the Pinelands consist of more than a million acres of dense forest, wildlife and wetlands.
A flight over the region would reveal a canopy of lush green foliage as far as the eye can see, in a part of the state sometimes referred to as "the lungs of New Jersey." Endangered or threatened wildlife ranging from tree frogs and salamanders to bobcats, eagles and butterflies call its gnarly pine trees and sandy soil home.
But just outside the Pinelands sits the main power plant for southern New Jersey, one that has long created concern with the high levels of pollution its coal burners cause. The BL England plant recently agreed to switch from coal to natural gas to avoid being ordered to shut down by New Jersey environmental authorities.
And that is the center of one of the biggest jobs-vs.-environment clashes in recent New Jersey history.
A state agency tasked with protecting the Pinelands while managing development in responsible ways will try to balance those needs next month. On Jan. 10, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission will decide whether to approve a 22-mile natural gas pipeline through the woods to the power plant.