Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Ponderlodge’

Ponderlodge: Before/After

Monday, October 15th, 2012

It’s been several years since the old Ponderlodge Golf Course was purchased by the Green Acres Program. After being slated for use as a satellite campus for Stockton College the old lodge and other buildings are long gone from the site. Today, the site is managed for wildlife and outdoor recreation. The old paved cart paths make it a magnet for local residents to easily explore it’s features. We’re delighted to be working with NJ Fish & Wildlife to enhance the habitat on site.  This past week we planted over 2,700 native species in an area we call the “Backyard Habitat Demonstration Site.” It’s in an area where the old lodge used to be located. The purpose of the site is for visitors to learn about features they themselves can install in their own backyards to benefit wildlife. We have 6 main features: Forested habitat, Scrub-shrub, Wildflower meadow, Pond (not yet installed), Nectar producing plants, and a brush pile. The features will be highlighted by interpretive signs and we hope to get volunteers to help maintain the site in the future.

BEFORE: The old lodge at the former Ponderlodge Golf Course in Villas, New Jersey in 2008. © Ben Wurst


DURING: Shortly after demolition in April 2011. A bare landscape with no value to wildlife at all… © Ben Wurst



AFTER: Volunteers and staff planted over 2,700 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses for wildlife. © Ben Wurst

Photo from the field

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Planting trees for wildlife and people!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Volunteers helped plant over 200 tree seedlings last week at a former golf course in Cape May, NJ. © Ben Wurst

For the past 3 years Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ has been working to restore habitat at an old golf course in lower Cape May County. We have concentrated on reforesting many of the old fairways at the site, now known as Cape Island Wildlife Management Area. This past week we planted around 300 native tree seedlings from Pinelands Nursery there. All of the species planted will benefit wildlife by providing food and cover. It will increase biodiversity and reduce fragmentation of forested habitat. We planted white and scarlet oak, pitch pine, gray birch, bayberry, serviceberry, persimmon, beach plum, and tulip poplar. Seedlings are protected by tree tubes (help reduce light browse by deer and rabbits) and weed mats (reduce competition from cool season grasses) to help increase survival rates.

Trees also benefit you and I. They capture carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Planting trees is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. They can reduce heating and cooling costs if planted around your home. They can also help increase your home’s property value. Fall is the best time to plant trees. When planting a tree make sure to dig the hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Plant to a depth where the collar of the truck is not below ground level. Amend the soil if necessary and only put up to 2″ of mulch against the trunk. Here are my picks for best native trees to plant for wildlife (and you) in your yard:

Shade trees: Sweet gum (awesome fall foliage!), tulip poplar (great pyramidal shape when mature, great shade tree), oak spp. (produce acorns and good shade trees, scarlet oaks have stunning fall foliage). Plant these on the south side of your house to reduce cooling costs in summer.

Conifers: red cedar (good wind break, dense cover for wildlife, provide berries for songbirds), american holly (beautiful red berries in winter, good cover for wildlife from heavy snow). Plant these along the NW side of your house to act as a windbreak from cold winter winds.

Watch a video clip about our work at Ponderlodge that was featured on NJTV on September 22.

Photo from the field

Saturday, September 18th, 2010
Natural Succession at its finest

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A former golf course called “Ponderlodge,” now referred to as Villas WMA and officially part of Cape Island Wildlife Management Area in Lower Township, NJ is slowly reverting back to forested habitat. Forests and trees are good for migratory and resident wildlife, the environment, and people! Trees provide food and cover to migratory birds. Many early successional woody species like, Winged sumac, Black cherry, Sassafras, and Mulberry are already established on old fairways on site. Other trees like White oak, Willow oak, and Pitch pine are sprouting from seed, especially in areas where the overstory of trees acts like a nursery for these to grow quickly. As you may know trees naturally sequester or capture CO2. Over time, large amounts of carbon are stored as biomass in the parts of a tree (leaves, branches, roots, and trunk). A one acre reforestation site can sequester an estimated 3 metric tons of CO2 in one year. In 20 years that’s 65 metric tons of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere. Once many of the fairways that we are working dilagently to reforest with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife are reforested, over 170 acres forested habitat will exist on site.

A former fairway at Ponderlodge. Four years after this property was acquired by Green Acres its fairways are being to succumb to forest succession. © Ben Wurst

This summer has been tough on many of our plantings. The severe drought in Cape May County has killed a large amount of seedlings that were planted in early 2009. However, when planting we choose to overstock or plant at a higher density to allow for some mortality to occur. Only the strong survive and will be more adaptable to future droughts!

Next year we plan to plant more seedlings on additional fairways to convert “fairways to forests.” We will be needing volunteers to assist with the plantings. If you’d like to volunteer to help plant trees send me an email and I’ll let you know when we’ll be planting (sometime in March).