Preserving Wildlife Habitats in New Jersey

Wildlife Conservation in New Jersey

New Jersey is home to a diversity of wildlife species. From forest songbirds to bog turtles, from the elusive southern gray treefrog to the common spring peeper, native plants and animals require habitat to survive.

Fish and Wildlife programs prevent wildlife species from reaching endangered or threatened status, as well as aid in the recovery of those already listed.

Bobcat Alley

A bobcat, New Jersey’s only native wild cat, requires about 20 miles of territory in which to hunt and find mates. That’s why local conservation groups like the Ridge and Valley Conservancy are working to preserve habitat along a corridor in northern Hunterdon and Mercer counties, called Bobcat Alley.

The Alley’s limestone forests, pristine streams and rock outcrops provide hallmark habitat for charismatic wildlife, including state-endangered bobcats. But the corridor is not without obstacles. Each year, seven to eight bobcats are killed by vehicles, and habitat fragmentation threatens the species’s long-term survival.

Thanks to supporters like you, the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) program has been helping to create safe wildlife passages at high-use road crossings. The program also has been partnering with landowners to improve access for wildlife on private property.

Storm Drain Cleanup

Streambanks, floodplains and swamps provide habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species. The wetlands also store and infiltrate stormwater, helping to reduce flooding and erosion on other land and minimizing the impacts of heavy rains on homes and businesses.

New Jersey Audubon is partnering with local towns to improve the resiliency of communities in the face of future climate change, including working on floodplain restoration projects. In addition, we are facilitating the conservation of private land with bog turtle habitat by developing relationships with property owners, and by identifying sites that can be protected through development mitigation.

New Jersey Audubon and project collaborators (Pine Island Cranberry Company, University of Delaware, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy) are restoring bobwhite habitat in the Pinelands region to address range-wide population declines for this game bird. In particular, invasive brush control is being conducted to create high-quality nesting and foraging habitat. This work builds on the success of an earlier project at Barnegat Light and is part of a larger Northern Bobwhite Restoration Initiative.

Coastal Salt Marshes

Salt marshes are sanctuaries for abundant wildlife, safe and fun places for kayaking or canoeing, and scenic backdrops for photography. Spread the word about their value by visiting a local tidal marsh and telling your friends. This will increase appreciation and support for their protection, and will ripple out to businesses near marshes that gain from ecotourism.

Salt marsh habitat is impacted by development and sea-level rise. Coastal wetlands sequester carbon at rates 10 times greater than forests. Protecting existing marshes and restoring those lost will help moderate the effects of climate change.

Marshes can be restored within a few years, even when they are degraded. Restoring tidal flows to a dammed marsh restores much of its ability to buffer storms and nurture biodiversity.

Native Plants

The New Jersey Native Plant Society, with help from garden clubs across the state, has pushed to have the state Department of Transportation and turnpikes use only native plants for highway landscaping and reforestation. This could curb the spread of invasive ornamentals like Japanese barberry and multiflora rose.

In addition, native plants are better adapted to local climates and soil conditions. They provide habitat for native wildlife and reduce the cost and environmental impacts associated with fertilizers and pesticides.

In a recent move, the state legislature passed a resolution that proclaims April to be Native Plant Month. This initiative is designed to encourage schools and the public to celebrate native plants and wildlife by promoting their role in preserving biodiversity. Gardeners can support the cause by planting natives in their yards and removing non-native invasive species, as well as providing food and water for native pollinators and other insects. In addition, the D&R Greenway Land Trust and the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve both host spring and fall native plant sales, and Toadshade Wildflower Farm sells locally grown genotypes of indigenous plants for ecological restoration projects year-round.

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