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Since 2009, we have planted more than 3,000 trees and shrubs for wildlife in New Jersey!

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Ballanger Creek Habitat Enhancement Project

This project is meant to enhance habitat for rare wildlife and create jobs in Bass River Township, New Jersey.

Image of As you can see buildings once existed on site. Once the site was acquired by Green Acres the house and buildings were demolished.Zoom+ As you can see buildings once existed on site. Once the site was acquired by Green Acres the house and buildings were demolished. Image courtesy of NJDEP

In late 2009, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ received notification from the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, US Forest Service that it was receiving a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The funding is intended to help create both jobs and wildlife habitat in New Jersey. The scope of the project includes the creation and enhancement of wildlife habitat and helps control the spread of invasive species inside Bass River State Forest in Bass River Township, Burlington County. The site is located along Ballanger Creek and is the former site of an old saw mill owned by the French family in the early 1900’s.

Ballanger Creek feeds into the Mullica River, a relatively unspoiled, estuarine system. The surrounding forested habitat is mostly unfragmented (to the south) and is comprised of pine-oak woodlands and emergent saltwater marsh. Some portions of the freshwater wetland are dominated by common reed where old fill was dumped which provides little habitat for wildlife. Several different habitat types can be found on site and include a fallow field, a man-made freshwater impoundment, and a unique mature forest type that is uncommon for Bass River State Forest that contains large Pitch pine, American holly, and White oak. The design of this project maximizes the site for use by wildlife and people for outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing and environmental education.

Image of Before site preparation and shrub planting at Ballanger Creek.Zoom+ Before site preparation and shrub planting at Ballanger Creek. © Ben Wurst

Habitat treatments will include the enhancement of 5.5 acres of grassland habitat, creation of .3 acres of scrub-shrub habitat, and the enhancement of approximately 6 acres of freshwater wetland edge habitat, which includes removing any invasive species encountered. Grassland habitat, that provides both food and cover, will be enhanced by planting native warm-season grasses and wildflowers. This habitat will benefit small mammals, many invertebrates, songbirds, and small gamebirds. Scrub-shrub habitat will be created by planting a variety of native fruit-bearing shrubs that offer both food and cover for migratory birds. Here a variety of shrubs will be planted to provide food during different seasons. The wetland edge will be enhanced by removing Common reed and planting native shrubs and herbaceous plants to create a more suitable habitat for wildlife, including egrets, herons, and songbirds. Additionally, a series of interpretive signs will be designed and installed after the project is completed.

Currently we are working with Duffield Associates, a private environmental consulting firm, to carry out this project. In late April, volunteers helped plant over 1,500 native fruit bearing shrubs to kick-off this project. Wildflower seeds were also planted in the old field. The next part of this project will be the restoration of the freshwater wetland edge habitat in late summer/fall 2010.


Project Updates and Summary Report:
Image of An excavator removes milled asphalt from the edge of freshwater wetlands.Zoom+ An excavator removes milled asphalt from the edge of freshwater wetlands. © Ben Wurst

9/21/10 - Temperatures this spring and summer were the warmest on record in New Jersey. It was also the 6th driest on record.It was most certainly a challenging year to start off a habitat enhancement project with planting shrubs. Since we used native species, many were drought tolerant. Others, like arrowwood viburnum do not do as well in upland areas. However, the majority of shrubs planted survived. Many went into dormancy early where the plant requires a lot less water to survive.

10/24/10 - About 250 shrubs that were left over from our spring planting were planted on site. Volunteers helped plant the shrubs where ones died from the hot and dry conditions this summer.

12/7/10 - We are currently in the permitting process with NJ DEP for the third portion of this project: to remove fill from the edge of freshwater wetlands. We expect work to begin in early 2011, or before spring 2011 and take approximately 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, content for interpretive signs is being gathered and will be used to design educational signs to illustrate the project and its benefits to wildlife and people.

Image of Large interpretive sign at Ballanger Creek informs visitors about the habitat enhancement performed on site, value of habitat management, and the wildlife that occur in the areaZoom+ Large interpretive sign at Ballanger Creek informs visitors about the habitat enhancement performed on site, value of habitat management, and the wildlife that occur in the area © Ben Wurst

6/27/11 - We received our GP16 Permit on April 27th. Over the past 2 weeks a large amount of milled asphalt, concrete and other debris was removed from the edge of the freshwater wetlands on site using an excavator. A total of 160 native shrubs and trees were planted in the disturbed area. The species list includes: Acer rubrum (red maple), Alnus serrulata (smooth alder), Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush), Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush), Diospyros virginiana (persimmon), Hamamelis virginiana (witch-hazel), Ilex verticillata (holly winterberry), Juncus effusus (plugs) (softrush), Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak), Rosa palustris (swamp rose), Sambucas canadensis (elderberry), Viburnum lentago (nannyberry), and Viburnum trilobum (cranberry viburnum).

Monitoring for survival of planted stock will continue throughout the summer and into the next year. Later this year a series of interpretive signs will be installed on site.

Download Ballanger Creek Final Report

Ballanger Creek Final Report - 223.6KB
Here is a summary of work conducted at Ballanger Creek in Bass River State Forest from 2009 to 2011.

Download Ballanger Creek trail map

Ballanger Creek trail map - 2.9MB
Trail map for Ballanger Creek inside Bass River State Forest, Bass River Twp., NJ.


The work upon which this publication is based was funded in whole or in part through a grant awarded by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service.


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