Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Outdoor Recreation’ Category

Local Scouts Learn about Reptile and Amphibian Conservation in Pursuit of Their Environmental Science Merit Badge

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

By Christine Healy

Wildlife biologist Christine Healy teaches the scouts about CWF’s work to protect the federally threatened bog turtle. Credit: Jim Kasprzak.

The classic justification for conserving wildlife is, of course, to protect diversity for future generations. While that’s not my go-to motivation for pursuing this line of work (I believe in the intrinsic value of nature and feel we are obligated to serve as good planetary stewards), I always feel over the moon when kids demonstrate the passion and interest in getting involved in this critical mission early on. When I received a request from Scouts BSA Troop #276 for assistance in earning their environmental science merit badge, I was eager to comply.

Earning a merit badge is no easy feat. It takes time and hard work, which is why attaining the rank of eagle scout, requiring the acquisition of at least 21 merit badges in addition to demonstrating leadership and service to the community, is such an achievement. For the environmental science badge, scouts must  1) study the history of the environmental movement in the US; 2) understand vocabulary relevant to wildlife, pollution, and green energy; 3) complete an activity relevant to seven of the following categories: ecology, air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, endangered species, pollution prevention, pollination, and invasive species; 4) complete a comparative study between two distinct habitat types; 5) practice drafting an environmental impact statement; and 6) research three career opportunities available in the field. Like I said, no easy feat, but Sebastian, Aidan, and Josh are up to the task.

(more…)

Restored Garden is Ready for Wildlife at Watchung Reservation

Friday, May 6th, 2022

by Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

Conserve Wildlife Foundation has successfully completed the restoration of the Certified Wildlife Habitat behind the Trailside Nature and Science Center at Watchung Reservation. The project was initiated last fall with a major clean up of the overgrown and neglected garden. The cleanup included pulling weeds, digging up unwanted and overgrown plants, trimming shrubs and trees, clearing vines from trees, and raking and blowing leaves. As a result, sunlight was let into the garden so that new wildlife-friendly plants could be added. After the cleanup, new native shrubs were planted that attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other birds. A new deer fence was also installed to protect the plantings from deer browse. 

(more…)

A Certified Wildlife Habitat Restoration in Progress

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

By Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

CWF Biologists (left to right) Sherry Tirgrath, Christine Healy, and Ethan Gilardi plant new greenery in the Trailside Nature Center Garden.

This fall CWF worked with the staff at the Trailside Nature and Science Center at Watchung Reservation in Union County, New Jersey to restore their Certified Wildlife Habitat.  A Certified Wildlife Habitat must include sources of food, water, cover and places to raise young, and must be maintained using sustainable practices.  Their garden had suffered from years of neglect and had become overgrown and choked out by weeds.

The first task was to tackle the major cleanup with the goals of opening the garden up to more sunlight, making room for new plantings, and giving the garden a fresh and clean appearance. CWF staff, interns and volunteers joined the Trailside Center’s staff and spent a day pulling weeds, digging up unwanted and overgrown plants, trimming shrubs and trees, clearing vines from trees, and raking and blowing leaves.  Dead, dying, or damaged trees and shrubs were cut down.  We left the healthy and beneficial trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that will be the backbone of the refreshed garden.  At the end of the day, the result of cleanup was remarkable.  Sunlight can now reach the ground, and the garden became a clean slate to add new plantings that will benefit birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. 

Trailside garden before and after cleanup.

The next step was to install a new deer fence around the garden.  The Trailside Center lies within a wooded area and deer are drawn to the garden to munch on the shrubs and plants.  In order to keep deer from destroying the garden, while allowing birds and other wildlife to utilize it, we installed a new eight-foot-high deer fence around the garden to replace one that had fallen down years ago.  At the same time, we planted some new trees and shrubs in the garden that will be able to grow without the pressure of deer browse.  We planted only native species that will attract birds, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies to the garden. 

In the spring, we will return to plant native herbaceous perennial plants that will also benefit birds, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.  We will be sure to plant some host species for native butterflies, such as milkweed for monarchs.  We plan to make a corner of the garden that caters specifically to hummingbirds.  The garden is already home to a beautiful man-made creek flowing into a pond that draws birds and frogs.  Several types of bird feeders, squirrel feeders and nest boxes are scattered throughout the garden as well.  The restored garden will be unveiled this spring for visitors to observe through the viewing windows inside the Trailside Center.

Trailside staff install deer fencing around the garden with help from CWF staff, interns, and volunteers.

New Jersey’s Wildlife in the Time of COVID-19 – Part 2

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

by David Wheeler

COVID-19 has changed our lives in virtually every possible way over the last few months. Our relationship to wildlife is no different. This three-part series explores the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown on wildlife in New Jersey and across the world. Read Part 1 here, and check out our podcast on COVID-19 and wildlife.

Wildlife from your Window

We have received more reports than ever from people seeing wildlife species they hadn’t seen before, and behaviors they had never previously observed, much of it from their own yards. People are tending to gardens more than ever before, and enjoying seeing the attendant pollinators.

(more…)

Celebrate Endangered Species Day

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Each year on the third Friday in May, the United States celebrates National Endangered Species Day. It is a chance for people of all ages to celebrate and learn about endangered species and how to protect them. Here are 5 ways you can celebrate New Jersey’s wildlife virtually, individually, and locally to stay safe during the corona virus crisis. Without the Endangered Species Act there wouldn’t be as many species in New Jersey to celebrate.

(more…)