Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

Barnegat Light Habitat Maintenance – Prepping for Piping Plovers

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

By Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist 

When the Barnegat Light habitat restoration was completed to benefit piping plovers several winters ago, the partners anticipated it would need periodic maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. As it has turned out, the inlet beach site has needed more frequent attention, an annual winter “touch-up” to prep the site for the nesting season. With this in mind, earlier this month, Todd Pover, CWF Senior Wildlife Biologist was on-site for nearly a week to oversee the habitat work. 

The maintenance this winter primarily focused on the two foraging ponds, as those features have proved critical to the success of the plovers utilizing the site. Thick vegetation was mechanically removed from about three-quarters of the perimeter of the large pond. Excessive vegetation can obstruct piping plovers, especially their chicks, from using the pond’s edge to feed. The heavy vegetation can also provide cover for predators. Meanwhile, the smaller pond was filled in with sand due to late fall/early winter storms and tidal surge. Although the small pond has needed to be “refreshed” each winter, this was the first time it had to be entirely re-dug. Experience has shown that having two ponds present at the site – giving plovers alternative feeding options if one pond is not accessible or as productive during a portion of the season – has been a key element in boosting productivity, especially as more plovers chose the site to nest. In addition to the pond work, some vegetation thinning or removal was also completed to enhance the suitability of the nesting areas as plovers prefer sparsely vegetated areas to lay their eggs. 

Invasive vegetation being removed from the edge of the large piping plover foraging pond.

2022 Upland Sandpiper Survey Results

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

The results are in! It wasn’t a great year for upland sandpipers at the McGuire Airfield. Numbers of breeding pairs at this location have decreased to an estimated two pairs. Numbers can be variable from year to year so there is still hope for better news in 2023.

Upland sandpipers typically require a minimum of 100 acres for breeding habitat and so large expanses of open, grassy land is a high priority. Over the past five years, long term efforts have been ongoing to complete a large-scale grassland restoration at the McGuire Airfield. So far, roughly 500 acres have been converted to native warm season grasses with another 100 acres to be completed by next spring. Our goal is to help create and maintain grassland bird nesting habitat for Upland sandpipers and other species.


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?


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.


A Future Forest for Hillsborough

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
Restoring valuable wildlife habitat in northern new jersey

By MacKenzie Hall, Private Lands Biologist

A row of trees wait to be planted. © MacKenzie Hall

Last week, a park in Hillsborough Township got a makeover.  Following “a shave and a haircut,” more than seven acres of fallow farmland were planted with 1,500 native trees and shrubs.

This afforestation is the latest partnership between Hillsborough and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation to improve wildlife habitat on township-owned lands.  The park (on Wertsville Road between Montgomery & Long Hill Rds) sits on the northern edge of the Sourland Mountains, which hold significant values to forest wildlife, migratory songbirds, human residents and recreationists.  Our project will extend this forest cover and all of its benefits.

Elliot Hodge helps out on planting day. © MacKenzie Hall

We selected 25 different native tree & shrub species with a variety of things in mind…for example:

  • Red, white, black, and chestnut oaks will produce acorns, a great food source for many animals;
  • White pines grow densely to shelter wildlife in winter;
  • Hackberry and sassafras are larval food sources for certain types of butterflies;
  • Tulip poplars grow quickly and are loved by bees;
  • Shagbark hickories are important bat roosts in summer;
  • Elderberry, bayberry, and dogwoods produce fruit to fuel migrating songbirds as well as animals who winter here.

Volunteer John Muth settles a young white pine into its new home. © MacKenzie Hall

While the trees are in the ground, this project is still “in progress.”  The next step is to install temporary fencing to protect the saplings from deer browse.  We’ll also have to fight the invasive plants – like autumn olive and multiflora rose – that grew so heartily at the site before. And lastly, we still have 150 trees and shrubs to plant at the neighboring Otto’s Farm Park.  Please contact me (908-782-4614 x 104) if you want to help!

A huge “THANKS!” goes out to Conservation Resources, Inc. for funding a large part of this restoration, to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s NJ Partners for Fish and Wildlife program for donating 1,000 of the trees and shrubs, to the D&R Greenway Land Trust nursery and Pinelands Nursery for their beautiful plant products, to Hillsborough Township for investing in their local wildlife, and to the 20 volunteers who helped with the tree planting.