Eagle Ridge Golf Club Takes Action to Provide Important Habitat for Bird and Pollinator Species

Eagle Ridge Golf Club (Eagle Ridge), assisted by the New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS), has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to partake in a habitat restoration project on their Lakewood, Ocean County, NJ facility. Through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, Eagle Ridge, NJAS and the USFWS, will be restoring natural wildlife communities, that will create important habitat for migratory birds as well as for various pollinators, such a butterfly species.

"The golf course lies within the Service’s Atlantic Coastal Bay focus area of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. The golf course represents a large tract of open space with a mix of early successional and edge habitat. Foraging and nesting habitat are available on the course to a variety of migratory birds, including purple martin, eastern bluebird, and eastern kingbird." said Brian Marsh, Private Lands Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The USFWS commends Eagle Ridge's interest in creating and restoring wildlife habitat on their property.”

Earlier this spring Eagle Ridge and USFWS installed numerous nest boxes throughout the property for purple martin, bluebird and American kestrel, all of which became fully occupied by mid May.   "My love of wildlife, in particular birds, has caused me to really focus my attention on the environment. I am encouraging nesting for the native wildlife at Eagle Ridge in hopes of increasing species populations, and I believe it is working. Golfers are coming up to me saying they have never seen so much wildlife here at Eagle Ridge compared to other courses. It is a labor of love for me." said Jerry Kokes, President of Eagle Ridge.

The site is very interesting in that it’s not your typical golf course -care was given to protect and support a diverse array of native plant life.  An example of this is the abundance of the native wildflower species Pink Lady's Slipper orchid at the site.  100_3906However, as with all areas in NJ, Eagle Ridge and USFWS still had to implement removal/controls of invasive non-native herbaceous vegetation that included, non-native grasses, spotted knapweed, and mugwort, from areas of the property. Non-native invasive vegetation invade areas, shading out and killing off existing native plants thus creating a simplified ecosystem that will not support a diverse set of native animal. In an effort to enhance the course’s value to migratory birds and pollinators the partners are establishing a native meadow consisting of native wildflowers and warm-season grasses on the several acres that received the invasive vegetation removals. Warm-season grasses are ideal cover for land managers and wildlife because they do not require fertilization or irrigation, provide erosion control, are drought tolerant, grow mostly in the middle of the summer when other grasses are dormant, add color and texture to the landscape, remain upright during winter, and provide foraging and nesting cover to migratory birds. Additionally their extensive root systems soak up excess nutrients, thus aiding in water filtration as well as allow them to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground. Warm season grasses are highly effective carbon “sinks” — they are, in fact, called “C4” grasses because they absorb an extra molecule of carbon while cool season grasses are labeled “C3.”

"Eagle Ridge is demonstrating an outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations." said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director for NGrasshopper Sparrowew Jersey Audubon. “What is really exciting is the amount of grassland dependent bird species that are using the restoration areas, like grasshopper sparrow and meadowlark. Congratulations to Eagle Ridge for solidifying a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding community to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic while enhancing wildlife systems in New Jersey."

All photos shown here were taken at Eagle Ridge Golf Club.