Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’

Help Golden-winged Warblers Thrive in Sparta Mountain WMA

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Comments on the Sparta Mountain WMA Forest Stewardship Plan are due Tuesday, March 1, 2016

by Emily Hofmann, Environmental Education Intern

Photo by New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

Photo by New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

Wildlife in the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) need your help! Submit your comments on the new Forest Stewardship Plan by Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation supports the new Forest Stewardship Plan for the Sparta Mountain WMA located in Sparta Township, New Jersey. The original Forest Stewardship Plan was introduced in 2009. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with New Jersey Audubon, recently updated and expanded upon the plan. The new revisions show a commitment to creating healthier forest habitat for wildlife, while abiding by the strict guidelines provided by third-party certification, along with agency regulations.

 

The new ten-year Plan, drafted by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and New Jersey Audubon Society, and conducted under an existing Forest Stewardship Plan for the wildlife area, will allow conservation actions to continue. The plan addresses the following key goals:

  • Improve the health, structure and diversity of the forests;
  • Create young forest habitat for birds and other wildlife that are of conservation concern;
  • Enhance foraging, nesting and roosting habitat for cavity dwelling birds and bats;
  • Suppress the spread of invasive species;
  • May provide basking habitat for turtles;
  • Protect and maintain views and vistas;
  • Improve passive recreational opportunities;
  • Protect water resources;
  • Monitor and evaluate stewardship activities

 

Kelly Triece, our Private Lands Biologist, has pointed out that 80% of New Jersey forests are currently between 60-99 years old, while only 5% of the forests are between 0-19 years old. CWF supports forest stewardship projects, like those presented in the new plan, that seek to even out this clear disparity and promote more diversity in age class of New Jersey forests. Increased diversity in forest age brings increased diversity in plant and animal species. This type of forest habitat has the potential to support over 125 bird species, including the Golden-winged Warbler.

 

Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny Golden.

Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny Golden.

 

The public comment period is an opportunity for you to support forest stewardship that will improve the health of the forest and create young forest habitat; essential for protecting the state endangered Golden-winged Warbler, as well as numerous other flora and fauna.

 

The Department of Environmental Protection needs to hear from you! To submit comments, visit DEP’s website. Provided below is a draft set of comments which you are welcome to use, as well as revise and submit. Remember, the deadline is Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

 

Learn More and Take Action:

 

Emily Hofmann is the Environmental Education Intern for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


Suggested text:

To the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,

Please accept the following comments in support of adoption and implementation of the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area Forest Stewardship plan. This new plan builds on an existing plan that has been under implementation for several years. The new plan seeks to addresses the long-term health of the forest and the critically important lack of young forest habitat by working to create new young forest habitat patches over the next ten years. In addition, the plan includes explicit goals to protect and enhance hydrologic resources, monitoring of priority wildlife populations, provide compatible wildlife recreational opportunities and adherence to strict third party certification principles and criteria. This plan is important because the resident and migratory birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that rely on young forest habitat are struggling to maintain themselves in places they were once commonly found. Throughout the Northeast, young forest habitat has diminished as forestland has been converted to development and abandoned farms and homesteads have matured to woodlands. As a consequence, a wide variety of wildlife have experienced the loss of the scrubby, patchy, disturbed portions of the forest that they rely on for food and cover.

The plan was developed based upon an understanding of the needs of wildlife in the Highlands Region and with a specific focus on ensuring that forest health is improved. The plan authors thoroughly reviewed the history of the region, considered the important water resources of Sparta Mountain, evaluated wildlife needs, recreational desires and community connections, and brought all of this together with a keen eye toward improving the health and vigor of the forest. The plan has gone through an extensive review by experts at the Department of Environmental Protection, has taken input from a wide-range of stakeholders and meets the requirements of a third party certification system. The plan is appropriate and needed given the mission of the NJ DEP and the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, the agency charged with management of the wildlife area and conserving wildlife. I encourage the Department of Environmental Protection to adopt and implement the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area Forest Stewardship Plan.

How You Can Help Fill-in Data Gaps

Friday, January 29th, 2016
YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS CAN HELP INFORM NEW JERSEY’S BIOLOGISTS

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Compared with most of the states within the United States, New Jersey is relatively small in area. However, it is still too large for biologists within New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) to survey every inch of the state for rare species at all times. Therefore, ENSP has created a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form with which any bird watcher, hiker, fisherman, and anyone else with knowledge on how to identify New Jersey’s rare wildlife, may submit information on rare species which they may have come across in their travels. This information assists ENSP biologists in monitoring their species’ numbers and whereabouts and may aid in targeting areas for future surveys. Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) staff work very closely with ENSP to encourage the public to submit their observational data and then process the information which gets submitted.

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

A spotted salamander, photographed during a quiet moment along the road shoulder. © Brett Klaproth

The first step in reporting rare species sightings is to first determine whether the species you observed is a species which is tracked. Tracked species are those listed in New Jersey as endangered, threatened, or special concern. The lists of these species can be found on these ENSP’s websites:  endangered & threatened species and special concern species.

The greatest need for data is for those species which are new to the proposed list of endangered, threatened, or special concern species. Because they did NOT previously have an imperiled status, they have largely been ignored in terms of survey effort and/or data acquisition. At the current time, there is a great need for data regarding observations of the following species:

Reptiles

Amphibians

Butterflies

Once you have determined that you observed a rare species, the next step is to complete a Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Form. You may complete one of these forms if you made the observation yourself – second-hand observations or information whose source was a report, letter, conversation, or other document will not be accepted. Also, one form must be completed per species. Thus, if you observe a heron rookery comprised of great blue herons, tricolor herons, and snowy egrets, then three sighting report forms may be submitted.

Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Forms are available for download and/or printing here. Part of the process of completing the form is to submit a map of the location where the animal was observed. This is critically important for reasons to be discussed later. The preferred map to submit is an aerial image of the area which you have marked with the animal’s location; however, a topographic map is also acceptable. Aerial images may be accessed via Google maps. Topographic maps can be accessed here. In addition to the form and map, it is also extremely helpful if you can submit at least one photograph of the animal in order for an ENSP biologist to verify the identification of the species.

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state's list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the rough green snake be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. © Keara R. Giannotti

After you mail in your form and map to ENSP, CWF or ENSP staff will enter it into their tracking database at which point it will receive an Observation ID number. You will then receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt of your form and providing you with your Observation ID number in the event you wish to follow-up with additional information or inquire as to whether the biologist has reviewed your form.

The form then goes to a CWF or ENSP biologist who will evaluate it to determine whether it is a valid sighting and whether it should be integrated into the next version of ENSP’s Landscape Project. This is why receiving accurate locational information along with the sighting report form is crucial. The Landscape Project is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) product whereby critical areas are identified for imperiled species based upon species locations as well as land-use classifications. The resulting maps enable state, county, municipal, and private agencies to identify important habitats and protect them in a variety of ways. This information is even utilized to regulate land-use in the state and attempt to preserve whatever endangered and threatened species habitat remains in New Jersey.

A common misperception many New Jersey nature watchers have is, if they happen to report their rare species sightings to institutions such as Audubon or Cornell (e-bird), that information will make its way to the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program. That is not the case. ENSP needs you to submit your data directly to them. So, please, become a Citizen Scientist and assist both CWF and ENSP in tracking New Jersey’s rare species, in the hopes that our work can prevent them from becoming rarer.

If you have collected a large amount of data and submitting it via multiple Sighting Report Forms may be too time consuming, please contact Mike Davenport, CWF’s GIS Program Manager, at Michael.davenport@dep.nj.gov Other options exist for data submittal (Excel spreadsheets for example) so long as all of the required information is included.

Providing Young Forest Habitat for the Golden-winged Warbler

Friday, December 11th, 2015
CWF and partners have created or restored over 225 acres of Golden-winged warbler habitat in New Jersey since 2012

 by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Golden Winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny.

Golden Winged Warbler. Photo by D. Kenny.

Take a look at this Golden-winged warbler — a Neotropical Migrant songbird that breeds in New Jersey. This songbird is a species of special conservation concern in the United States and endangered in New Jersey, experiencing population declines due to loss of young forest habitat.

 
Did you know? In the past 30 years, over 11,000 acres of upland shrub and emergent wetland habitat have been lost to succession in New Jersey. This habitat is important for Golden-winged warblers because it is their primary breeding habitat. Fortunately, their secondary habitat, upland forests, have remained stable in the state.

 

Therefore, it has been the goal of many wildlife management agencies to continue to create young forest habitat, while protecting upland forests as well.

 
Conserve Wildlife Foundation and our partners (Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and New Jersey Audubon Society), have worked with private landowners to create or restore over 225 acres of Golden-winged warbler habitat since 2012 in New Jersey.

 

Our managed forests have a statistically significant higher diversity of birds than unmanaged sites!

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged Warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Young forest habitat managed for Golden-winged warbler. Photo by Kelly Triece.

Young forest habitat, also known as scrub-shrub habitat, is new or regenerating forest that is less than 20 years old. Young forest habitat is important for many birds, especially the Golden-winged warbler. The open canopy of a young forest also helps provide food such as berries and insects to newly fledged birds, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, reptiles, black bears, bobcats, and butterflies.

 

Golden-winged warbler home range

Golden-winged warbler home range

The breeding range of the Golden-winged warbler extends along the Appalachians from the northern portion of Georgia in the south to Vermont in the north. The winter range for this species is southern Mexico and Central and South America.

 

Follow us in February 2016 when biologist Kelly Triece travels to Honduras to see the Golden-winged Warbler in its winter habitat!

 

Learn more and get involved:

 

 

Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Three New Jersey Women Recognized at Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

Friday, October 30th, 2015
MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, Tanya Oznowich honored at Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s 10th Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman with past and present Women & Wildlife Award winners, representing a decade of strong female leaders in wildlife conservation. From left to right: Dr. Erica Miller, Edith Wallace, Linda Tesauro, Kathy Clark, Amy S. Greene, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Pat Hamilton, MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Diane Nickerson.

 

Our Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held at Duke Farms, recognized three women – MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich – for their leadership in protecting wildlife in New Jersey. The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman served as the keynote speaker.

 

The Women & Wildlife Awards celebrated Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s past decade of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the Garden State’s endangered and imperiled wildlife species.

 

“The inspiring leadership of MacKenzie Hall, Pat Hamilton, and Tanya Oznowich not only benefits New Jersey’s wildlife and the countless people who care strongly for our outdoors – it provides successful role models for the next generation of girls in scientific fields that have for too long held a glass ceiling for young women,” said CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “Their unparalleled dedication and hard work – like that of the Women & Wildlife honorees over the past decade – has helped make New Jersey a national leader in wildlife conservation.”

 

The three honorees were recognized individually with awards in Inspiration, Leadership, and Education:

MacKenzie Hall, a powerful force behind the conservation of wildlife in New Jersey, who began working as a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation in 2004 before joining the Endangered and Nongame Species Program in 2014, is the recipient of the Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award. She has been involved in a number of projects spanning bat colonies, migrating amphibians, and grassland birds.

In her work to implement conservation programs such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Ms. Hall’s keen understanding of the process and positive attitude turned many farmers and landowners into dedicated environmental stewards. What may be most remarkable about Ms. Hall is her ability to motivate the public and inspire non-scientists of all ages to become passionate conservationists.

 

Women & Wildlife Leadership Award Winner Pat Hamilton has worked for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries since 1980. She is considered to be the champion for Eastern brook trout, the state’s only native salmonid, and a species once extirpated from over 50% of its historical habitat due to human impacts.

Ms. Hamilton is one of three fisheries biologists in New Jersey endeavoring to strengthen the state regulations to further conserve native brook trout streams. Thanks to her efforts, more than 200 northern New Jersey streams have been designated as Trout Production Streams, which afford the streams higher levels of state protection.

 

The recipient of the Women & Wildlife Education Award is Tanya Oznowich, Environmental Education Supervisor of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, who has championed environmental education for over three decades.

Schools across New Jersey are incorporating environmental education into their curriculum, a new movement inspired by a growing awareness of environmental issues and our shared role in understanding and resolving them. To a large degree, this growing prominence is thanks to Tanya Oznowich. She has been engaging the public in natural resources since 1979. Since beginning her tenure with the NJDEP in 1988, she has dedicated herself to integrating environmental science into New Jersey’s classrooms, from kindergarten to college.

 

The Tenth Annual Women & Wildlife Awards, held on Wednesday, October 28 at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, included a presentation of the awards to the recipients, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and a silent auction.

 

Learn More:

 

We gratefully thank our generous Eagle Sponsors who made the Women & Wildlife Awards possible: PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, Janice King and Bill Masonheimer, and Eric Sambol.

 

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

Meet the 2015 Honorees: MacKenzie Hall, Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
Wildlife Biologist Celebrated for Inspiring Non-Scientists of All Ages to Become Passionate Conservationists

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

MacKenzie Hall, 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

MacKenzie Hall, 2015 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

A powerful force behind the conservation of wildlife in New Jersey, MacKenzie Hall began working as a wildlife biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation in 2004 and was been involved with projects spanning bat colonies, migrating amphibians, and grassland birds. What is most remarkable about Ms. Hall, however, is her ability to motivate the public to participate in these projects, inspiring non-scientists of all ages to become passionate conservationists.

 
Ms. Hall has supported and participated in bat research projects throughout the state. She took part in colony monitoring, mist-netting, and banding, working through many nights in order to benefit these enormously important species. In 2012, she launched a “Bats in Buildings” program offering New Jersey homeowners bat-friendly “eviction” resources, as well as free bat houses for displaced colonies.

 

In addition to her involvement in bat conservation, Ms. Hall is a passionate advocate for New Jersey’s amphibians and reptiles. She worked to address amphibian mortality on state roads, teaming up with working groups to help species of frogs and salamanders safely cross roads during their spring breeding season. She successfully coordinated amphibian surveys throughout the state, a task requiring road closures, the cooperation of multiple municipalities, the recruitment and training of volunteers, and the willingness to work outdoors overnight on cold, rainy nights!

 
In her work to implement conservation programs such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, Ms. Hall’s keen understanding of the process and positive attitude turned many farmers and landowners alike into dedicated environmental stewards.

 

Join us to honor MacKenzie and the two other 2015 Women & Wildlife Award Winners on Wednesday, October 28 beginning at 6pm. Purchase events tickets and find more information.


We asked MacKenzie a few questions about what working in wildlife conservation means to her:

 

What motivates you to get out of bed each morning and go to work?

So much to do!  Somehow the day always ends with more on the to-do list than it started with.  Working statewide means a lot of ground to cover, a lot of emails to answer, and a lot of people to convince that the bats in their eaves aren’t looking to murder their family.  Every day is a different adventure, even if I never leave my desk.  Days that I actually get to spend up-close with animals or see our work making a difference – like finding kestrel eggs in a nest box we put up for them, or cupping a beautiful salamander in my hands and moving her to the safe side of the road – those are the little moments of glory that make it all feel so simple.  It’s also really great to work with people who look at the world the same way I do, and who I can keep learning from.

 

What do you find most challenging about your profession?

Same answer as the last one, I think.  This is work that’s never done.  We rarely get to clap our hands together and say, “Ok, that species is saved, who’s next?”  Most of our successes take years and years, a lot of educating others, a lot of help from others, and endurance.

 

Name one thing you can’t live without.

Sunshine…summertime.  These crisp October days feel clean and refreshing, but I don’t want to close the windows and put a coat on!  I want to bask in the sun like a turtle.  I want sand that’s almost too hot to stand on.  I want to run around in a tank top and pick berries and stay out in the balmy night in flip-flops, with frogs screaming from the trees.

 

What interests you the most about New Jersey’s wildlife?

Most of them live at or near some interface with the human world, because so much of New Jersey is covered in our footprints.  We’ve got falcons on skyscrapers and shorebirds raising their chicks between houses and beach umbrellas.  And yah, colonies of bats living up in the eaves.  There’s a sense of sharing, because we’re all trying to make the most of our little spaces.  We have so many chances to connect and commune with wildlife on common ground, if we just pay attention and learn to share nice.

 

Name one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to change the world.

Figure out what you want the change to look like, and start with you.  Be a positive example for the people who are close to you, and they’ll help you pass it forward.  Don’t get too frustrated by the ones who don’t.


Please join us on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey to honor the contributions that MacKenzie Hall, Tanya Oznowich, and Pat Hamilton have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

 

This year’s very special event will feature keynote speaker Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The event will also celebrate CWF’s past decade of honoring women for their success in protecting, managing, restoring, and raising awareness for the Garden State’s endangered and threatened wildlife species.

 

Learn more:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

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