Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Habitat Restoration’ Category

Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration gets a “Touch-up”

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

A bulldozer trims back vegetation as a part of maintenance at the Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site.

Even though all the major construction at our Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site was complete over the past two winters, CWF returned in January 2021 to help oversee a “touch up”.  Beach nesting birds, such as piping plovers, prefer open, lightly vegetated beaches to nest, and in two years the vegetation had filled in quickly at the site. Using a bulldozer, the thicker vegetation was trimmed back or as the machine operator said, we gave it a “haircut”.

At the same time, the shallow edges of the foraging pond were enhanced. The pond, in particular a portion engineered to mimic “foraging flats”, was a key part of the success of piping plovers during the 2020 breeding season. We were able to expand that feature in hopes of providing even more high value foraging opportunities in years to come.

Initial construction was obviously the most important step to make this long-anticipated project a reality, but ongoing maintenance is an important part of any restoration, as habitat, especially in the dynamic coastal zone, rarely remains static. Still, follow-up maintenance is often overlooked or underfunded, but we know it will be absolutely critical as a long-term measure at Barnegat Light to sustain quality nesting habitat and high reproductive success.

The work this winter was done in tandem with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, our primary technical partner on the project. A special thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Philadelphia District for funding and facilitating the maintenance construction. We also greatly appreciate the ongoing partnership on this project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – New Jersey Field Office and State of New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Todd Pover is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

CWF In The News: WOBM 92.7 highlights Great Bay turtle garden

Monday, December 7th, 2020
A female terrapin pauses while crossing Great Bay Blvd in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.

Shawn Michaels from WOBM News 92.7 recently visited the Conserve Wildlife Foundation and New Jersey Fish & Wildlife managed Great Bay Terrapin Habitat Enhancement Project and took the time to share his thoughts and some pictures from his visit.

Thank you Shawn for spreading information about our project and sharing these wonderful photos of the turtle garden!

You can read an except from the article below.


Photo by Shawn Michaels

If you live here at the Jersey Shore then there is a good chance you have seen a turtle or two trying to cross the road. This project ”turtle gardens” is located on the bay in Little Egg Harbor Township on Seven Bridges Road. The purpose is to give area turtles a place to lay eggs that’s out of harm’s way.

This is a fantastic project to help turtles which often are hit by cars trying to find areas to lay eggs. You may have seen signs around the Jersey Shore ”turtle crossing” to alert you to watch for turtles on area roadways usually late spring through summer.

Click here to read more: This is a fantastic project the ”Turtle Garden”

A Year-end Snapshot of CWF’s Beach Nesting Bird Season

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

An adult Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) looks over their chick.

Piping plovers may have left New Jersey for their wintering grounds months ago, but our staff continues to be busy assessing the results of the 2020 breeding season and making plans for ways to improve outcomes next year.

As we look back, one pattern is very clear; the piping plovers nesting at sites monitored and managed by CWF did very well in 2020. This includes 39 pairs at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (Holgate and Little Beach Units), which CWF manages on behalf of the Refuge, as well as one pair at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt. Collectively, these pairs fledged 68 chicks or 1.70 chicks per pair, well above the federal recovery goal of 1.50 and at near record levels for the Refuge. These pairs represent just under 40% of the statewide total, as a result the high productivity at CWF-managed sites helped drive the state’s overall success. For a detailed look at how piping plovers did statewide, click here for the recently released state report.

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Helping Native Brook Trout by Restoring a Stream

Monday, October 5th, 2020

by Nicole Porter and David Wheeler

Brook trout. Photo courtesy of Shawn Crouse.

Many of New Jersey’s streams have been manipulated by being impounded with dams or weirs, or otherwise redirected over time – decreasing their ecological habitat diversity and blocking fish passage for native brook trout and other species. Restoring these streams to a more natural state can greatly benefit wildlife. 

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, along with assistance from Conserve Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Urbani Fisheries, worked on a stream restoration project on a highly modified part of stream flowing through the West Brook Preserve in West Milford this summer. This vital 170-acre preserve holds the headwaters of the West Brook, one of the primary sources of water for the Wanaque Reservoir, which provides drinking water for two million New Jerseyans. 

It appears that sometime in the 1950s, part of the West Brook was taken out of the original stream channel and redirected to a channelized ditch that ran alongside it. There were also several culverts installed in the stream (including one that was the size of a small grain silo) which restricted flow and acted as a blockade to fish passage. In addition, one of the unnamed tributaries leading to the mainstream channel had a pond where water was being held back by a weir, resulting in elevated water temperatures. The original channel and tributaries also needed an enhancement of a thalweg, the line of lowest elevation that the stream follows as well as the addition of pools, riffles and runs.

Removal of large instream culvert that blocked fish passage and restricted flow.

A healthy stream should have an established thalweg – a connected floodplain – as well as pools, riffles, and runs. All of these features are important in the function of the stream.  For example, pools provide areas for various aquatic species to seek refuge, while riffles aid in the reoxygenation of the water. 

Tributary to the West Brook one day after streamwork. In the picture above it shows a constructed pointbar which causes the stream to naturally meander and protects the banks.
Tributary to the West Brook one day after streamwork. In the picture above it shows the enhanced pools and riffles.

The ultimate goals of the West Brook project included restoring the native fish habitat, improving the overall water quality, and rejuvenating the macroinvertebrate population. 

The work done to accomplish this included:

  • Restoring the river back to the original stream channel. 
  • Enhancing features along the whole length of the stream.
  • Creating wetland pools out of the old ditch and within the riparian zone. 
  • Removing five culverts and the small weir. 

After the restoration, it appeared some of the site is now suitable for native brook trout, and the project has greatly improved habitat diversity in a stream that flows into a Category One trout production stream. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife and The Land Conservancy will continue to monitor the project.

Nicole Porter is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


Learn more about New Jersey’s Brook Trout here.

New Terrapin Garden Grows in Little Egg Harbor

Monday, July 20th, 2020

By Pat Johnson

Two year old terrapin. we found on the road shoulder.

CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst is known first and foremost for his work with New Jersey’s resident Osprey population. The job of a habitat manager doesn’t stop with ospreys, however. Ben’s work creating gardens for Diamondback Terrapins to safely nest in was recently the spotlight of an article by Pat Johnson of The Sand Paper.

Check out the excerpt below and read more on TheSandPaper.net!


Like tiny air raid shelters, protective cages sheltering the terrapin nests along Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor keep them safe from predators, among them crows and gulls from the air and foxes and raccoons on the ground. The Great Bay Boulevard Terrapin Habitat Project site, commonly called the terrapin garden by its founder, Ben Wurst, habitat project manager for the Conservation Foundation of New Jersey, already has at least 50 nests on its sandy beach next to the salt marsh.

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