Corporate Stewardship Council Member Jersey Central Power & Light Takes on Second Critical Habitat Improvement Project in New Jersey

Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) initiated its second critical habitat restoration project as part of their participation in NJ Audubon's Slide3Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), at the Yards Creek Scout Reservation. Volunteering the use of personnel and heavy equipment, JCP&L provided a key component in removing non-native invasive vegetation that had severely impacted numerous acres of woodland and young forest habitat vital for the survival of numerous wildlife species. This area of restoration was considered “ground-zero” for an infestation of Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), that started out as a planted ornamental, but left uncontrolled over the years had become aggressively wide spread, overtaking native plants and disrupting important ecosystem processes.

site“New Jersey Audubon is encountering Chinese wisteria more and more across the state and it is clearly emerging as one of the worst invasive vegetation threats to our forests.” said John Parke, New Jersey Audubon Stewardship Project Director-North Region. “The non-native wisteria is long-lived perennial, that can tolerate a variety of soil and moisture regimes and it moves not just across the forest floor, but up the canopy as well, strangling, shading out, and displacing native vegetation. This leads to an accelerated death of large trees encouraging further growth and spread of the wisteria.” said Parke. “Once established in an area, wisteria patches can potentially cover several acres and completely change natural plant community development, which directly impacts the habitat requirements for certain wildlife species.”

The Boys Scouts of America Central New Jersey Council’s Yards Creek Scout ReservationSlide4 in Blairstown Township lies in the US Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Highlands/Middle Delaware River Focus Area and abuts Worthington State Forest. The area of Worthington State Forest and Kittatinny Mountain Ridge, that the site is part of, is also a designated Important Bird Area (IBA) of New Jersey, because of its important migratory stop over and breeding habitat. The region’s mix of largely contiguous forest and early successional habitat provides critical breeding habitat for several state endangered and threatened raptors, as well as supporting consistently high numbers of breeding state special species of concern, like Cerulean Warbler, and Regional Responsibility species, including Wood Thrush, Hooded Warbler, Gray Catbird, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Black and White Warbler and Scarlet Tanager.

Slide5“After habitat destruction, invasive species, like Chinese wisteria, are the next biggest threat to native plant communities.” said Brain Marsh, Private Lands Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). “This non-native wisteria does not have natural insects predators or diseases here in North America to keep its growth in check, so the plant can become wide spread pretty quickly. It is a direct threat to biodiversity and ecosystem stability on natural areas by negatively impacting wildlife dependent on native vegetation for forage, nesting, and cover.” said Marsh. “The USFWS together with the Boy Scouts of America, JCP&L and NJ Audubon have entered into a partnership under the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to remove and control the wisteria from the area and ultimately will restore natural wildlife communities on the site for migratory and breeding bird habitat.”

"We are pleased that JCP&L's ongoing engagement with New Jersey Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council enabled the preservation of a vital habitat at the Yards Creek Scout Reservation," said Don Lynch, JCP&L president. "Our employees embraced the opportunity to work with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Boy Scouts of America and New Jersey Audubon on helping to return the area to its natural condition."

Slide1Slide2"By partnering with JCP&L and USFWS through New Jersey Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council, we were finally able to better address this destructive invasive non-native plant species," said Central New Jersey Council BSA Staff Advisor Tom Leitz. "This partnership will go a long way in promoting a healthy forest, to insure that it is around for the future youth to enjoy!"