Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘habitat restoration’

Protecting Flood-Prone Communities Through Wetland Restoration

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

by Christine Healy

Hurricane Ida. Hurricane Irene. Superstorm Sandy. These weather events represent three of the four most devasting storms recorded in New Jersey history. Though data dates back 218 years, all 3 have occurred within the past 11, substantiating concerns over the effect of climate change on tropical cyclone severity. Therefore, taking measures to safeguard communities from devastating floodwaters is more important now than it ever has been. But who said helping people can’t, in turn, help wildlife?

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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. 

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Celebrating Earth Day with “Boots Not Suits” in Union County

Friday, April 29th, 2022

by Christine Healy, CWF Wildlife Biologist

CWF biologist Sherry Tirgrath prepares a river birch sapling for planting

As the coordinator for CWF’s Amphibian Crossing Project, I think it’s safe to say I spend more time than the average person hoping for rain to pop up in springtime forecasts. April 22, however, is always an exception. What could be better than warm and sunny conditions to inspire folks to get outside and celebrate Earth Day by giving back to the planet that gives us, well, everything? Mother Nature certainly came through with the weather last week, handing us one of the most glorious days of the season thus far, while the Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Union County Board of County Commissioners, Groundwork Elizabeth, and their partners offered a destination for all the aspiring wildlife warriors: Phil Rizzuto Park.


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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.

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.