Corporate Stewardship Council Members Team Up for Critical Wildlife Habitat Restoration

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and NJ Audubon’s (NJA) newest Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) member, Crystal Springs Resort, have become the first CSC members to “team up” and work collaboratively on a habitat restoration project in northwestern NJ. Specifically the two will be working with NJA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on a long-term project that involves restoring a section of a JCP&L transmission line Row-of-Way (ROW) that traverses through the Black Bear Golf Club located in Franklin, NJ which is part of the Crystal Springs warbler(PARKE)

The project will involve incorporating JCP&L’s ROW integrated vegetation management requirements with the aim of encouraging low-growth vegetation, native warm season grasses and native wildflowers and thus, promoting early successional habitat for native wildlife. Specific target species will be various pollinators, including wild bees and butterflies, as well as, several avian species that depend on early successional habitat types, such as Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler and Indigo Bunting.

“JCP&L is pleased to collaborate with Crystal Springs Resort, New Jersey Audubon and USFWS in this unique and important habitat project,” said Jim Fakult, JCP&L President. “It demonstrates JCP&L’s on-going commitment to protect the environment, remain good stewards of our green bee on boneset in ROW (PARKE)natural resources, promote public health and safety and create lasting value in the communities we serve.”

Current research from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland is showing that the open, grassy or scrubby habitat under some transmission lines are already the best place to find wild native bees and that potential habitat associated with ROW management will inevitably become more important as the United States becomes more urbanized. Additionally, other studies are showing that as regions become more urbanized, golf courses too have the potential for creating significant wildlife benefits, especially in recent conservation efforts for the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, and even American Kestrel.

The beauty of this project is that given Black Bear Golf Club’s position in the landscape, it literately falls in the middle of five (5) recognized New Jersey Important Bird and Birding Areas (IBBA), so any habitat management work associated with the project that removes invasive non-native vegetation and encourages more native vegetation that will be consistently maintained will havePollinators at Crystal Springs(PARKE) a profound impact on long-term viability of native avian populations in the region.

“Crystal Springs will have an important impact on wildlife habitat in the region through their interest in, and commitment to, land stewardship. The extensive properties of Crystal Springs have a lot of value to wildlife species of concern, including species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act,” said Brian Marsh Program Coordinator for the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. “With good land stewardship and working with other CSC members and partners, habitat values can be enhanced for rare pollinator insects and migratory birds on their properties.

This work between JCP&L and Crystal Springs will increase biodiversity and benefits not only wildlife and other natural resources, such as improved soil health and water and air quality, but will also provide educational opportunities. Specifically, interpretative signage will be placed strategically around the course to offer to all that visit the property a chance to learn about the importance of native plants, habitat, wildlife and the ecological services that they provide.

“The Crystal Springs Resort possesses incredibly beautiful and important habitat and we are thrilled to be partnering with New Jersey Audubon in pursuit of ongoing environmental stewardship,” said Art Walton, Vice President of Crystal Springs Resort. “As a destination resort and community hub, we have a unique opportunity to protect, preserve and promote all of our region’s natural assets for the benefit and enlightenment of many,” added Walton. “Working with NJ Audubon, USFWS and fellow CSC member JCP&L has been greatly educational and we look forward to launching many more stewardship initiatives across our diverse array of properties.”

All photos by John Parke