Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Bass River Twp’

Hiking at Ballanger Creek

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
New trails open to public!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

I might be a little biased in saying that Bass River State Forest is one of the most beautiful state parks in New Jersey, only because I live in the same town where it’s located. There is so much to explore at BRSF: large pine plantations by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that helped build NJ’s state parks, Atlantic white-cedar swamps galore, sugar sand, and all the wildlife that occupy pinelands habitats. One new and much different portion of Bass River State Forest is Ballanger Creek, pronounced “Baa-lan’-ger”. The surrounding forested habitat is mostly unfragmented and is comprised of mature pine-oak woodlands. There are some very large pitch pines that cover many species that are shade tolerant like, american holly. Two old freshwater impoundments were drained after Hurricane Irene blew out an earthen dam. Now freshwater wetlands have emerged and atlantic white-cedar seedlings are beginning to sprout.

Common along much of the coast of New Jersey, this site has had a lot of use in its history. A saw mill once operated here in the mid-19th century and in the early 1900s fields along the creek were used for agriculture. It was also used as a dump site for fill and other debris. A house and several out buildings were demolished when the property was acquired by the Green Acres Program in the mid-90s. Since its acquisition the site has not been actively managed for wildlife. That all changed in late 2009 when Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ acquired funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to enhance the degraded wildlife habitat on site. We’re all done with the project and there’s a lot to explore here. We invite you to explore this site and enjoy its natural beauty and its wildlife residents. Click on the map to download or print a copy of it. Here is a link to the site via Google Maps.

Check out some photos from my recent visit:

Photo from the Field

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Final Phase of site work at Ballanger Creek Complete!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

An excavator removes milled asphalt that was dumped into freshwater wetlands. © Ben Wurst

In late 2009 we received notification that we were going to receive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to carry out a habitat enhancement project inside Bass River State Forest. The purpose of the project was to enhance habitat on site for migratory birds and other wildlife, especially rare species. The main part of the project was to remove fill and control invasives, like phragmites, that was illegally dumped on the edge of freshwater wetlands. The first phase of the project was to create scrub-shrub habitat. In early 2010 we planted over 1,000 native shrubs that provide both food and cover. Even though it was a hot, dry summer last year many of the shrubs are already flowering and bearing fruit. In summer we broadcast 75 lbs. of wildflower seed in the old fallow fields. Finally, over the past 2 weeks a crew from Anthony Excavating Inc. used excavators to remove tons (literally) of milled asphalt, concrete, and other debris (everything but the kitchen sink) along the edge of the wetlands. They used a small excavator that was able to reach a long distance without disturbing much of the surrounding area.

A series of interpretive signs are being designed and will be installed on site this fall. I also plan to work with volunteers from Bass River State Forest to enhance a 1.5 mile loop hiking trail around an old fire road on the edge of the wetlands.



Removing milled asphalt that was dumped into freshwater wetlands. © Ben Wurst