Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences - Nature Trail Enhancement Project
Conserve Wildlife Foundation is working to enhance wildlife habitat and publi access to Barnegat Bay at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies, New Jersey.
In partnership with Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences (LBIF), Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) proposes to assist with the design and enhancement of a nature trail at LBIF. LBIF is located on the northern portion of Long Beach Island in Loveladies, Long Beach Township, Ocean County, New Jersey. The surrounding habitat at LBIF consists mainly of undeveloped tidal saltmarsh and coastal maritime forest habitat (approximately 21 acres) which is the largest privately owned parcel of open space on Long Beach Island. The main objective for this unique grassroots effort is to engage and educate local residents and visitors about the importance of any remaining habitat on Long Beach Island, a largely developed barrier island. It is also to provide the public with knowledge and resources to help provide suitable habitat (food, water, cover) to wildlife, especially migratory songbirds and pollinator species of insects. Lastly, it will create a wealth of educational opportunities for visitors by creating and installing interpretive signs, a map, and brochure.
The nature trail that we propose to create, in partnership with LBIF, would be made by clearing woody vegetation within a “berm” that is along the wetland edge of the property. The trail would start at the back of the Marine Science Building and continue parallel with the buildings towards the northeast. Before reaching Sandy Lane a side path (Pollinator Path) will lead to beehives and a turtle garden. After the “Pollinator Path” reconnects with the main trail then it will go northwest within the wooded (roadside) edge along Sandy Lane. From there it will connect with the existing saltmarsh trail on the Joe Torg Wetlands.
The majority of the work will be to control non-native, invasive species, such as Common reed (Phragmites australis) and Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) at LBIF within the berm. We will recruit volunteers to help with the creation of the trail. We believe that by using local volunteers will really help engage local residents and LBIF members in the science based learning opportunities on site. This will also help keep costs at a minimum. Most work can be done using simple hand and power tools. Large trees and shrubs will be pruned. Phragmites will be mowed or trimmed back to control its spread on the property. Small woody vegetation, like Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) will be pulled and pruned along the path of the trail. After the trail is created wood chips sourced from local tree companies will be spread on the new nature trail. Lastly, to cover the old main trail near the playground, native shrubs will be planted.
To enhance the educational experience on and off the trails we propose to design and install several interpretive signs, create a small brochure, and develop content for LBIF’s website. On all the signs and brochure we can include a QR code, which can link to LBIF’s website for more in depth information about all of the features at the site. For example, the sign in the bird blind can have a QR code which can link to a video that showcases CWFs work to monitor and manage NJ’s ospreys. At the trail head a large sign will give an overview map of the trail and highlight the different habitat features seen along the trail. The second large sign will go on an upper deck on one of the buildings at LBIF. It will show a panoramic photo/painting of the saltmarsh vista and can point out key features. Along designated lookouts on the upland and saltmarsh trails medium sized signs will highlight the habitat on site and the wildlife that utilize such habitat. Small signs installed along the trail can identify vegetation and wildlife along the trail. The brochure will showcase all of the habitat elements at LBIF and will give visitors a guide to all things wild at the site. Content for website includes much of the information in LBIF’s Island Blue Pages that will be digitized. It includes information about the habitat and wildlife found on site and will give information on what island residents and visitors can do to reduce their environmental footprint.
To enhance the existing saltmarsh trail, a bird watching blind will be designed and built near the existing osprey nest. This is one of the very few locations on Long Beach Island where ospreys nest and where we have an opportunity to educate visitors about the life history of ospreys and their importance in the coastal ecosystem.
Lastly, to help build on the science camps at LBIF interpretive materials will be purchased including a spotting scope, tripod and binoculars. LBIF will hire a part-time education/naturalist staff member to develop curriculum for the Interpretive Center there.
Create a unique, self-guided nature trail for visitors to LBIF that focuses on reducing non-native, invasive species, planting native flowering trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants and increasing educational opportunities with the summer Nature Studies and Marine Science camps.
- August/early September: Secure funding; finalize project proposal.
- Late September: Meet with LBIF staff to layout/map nature trail pathway. Organize volunteer work day and recruit volunteers for Stage 1 of trail creation. Select and order plants to fill in old trail.
- October: Source/buy tools needed. Host work day and create trail using volunteers. Plant shrubs/wildflowers along old trail. Choose locations for look outs/focal points on trail and interpretive signs. Begin website design.
- November-December: Work with local artists/LBIF to get artwork for interpretive material. Design interpretive signs and brochure. Begin development of curriculum. Organize second volunteer trail work day. Construct blind.
- January-February: Finalize interpretive sign designs and blind.
- March: Install interpretive signs, launch webpages/website.
- Spring 2016: Finalize project and open to public
- The first Volunteer Work Day held on November 21, 2015 where more than 50 volunteers came out to help clear brush, especially invasive species along the new Nature Trail.
- The second volunteer work day occurred on a chilly morning in mid-January where we were joined by 11 students from MATES to help pick up brush and spread wood chips along the trail.
- The next work day will be planned for early March.