In anticipation of the habitat restoration work to be performed this year at the Stahl Natural Area section of River Road Park, New Jersey Audubon and the Township of Bedminster is pleased to announce the formation of the Friends of the Stahl Natural Area. This Friends Group will provide support to the Township in order to implement projects based on input from Township officials and experts including, New Jersey Audubon, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and Montclair State University.
What is the Stahl Natural Area Friends Group?
The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group will support, assist, and promote the mission or activities of the Stahl Natural Area section of River Road Park. We are looking for motivated people, business and local organizations that understand, or want to understand, the value and benefits of the Stahl Natural Area as open space and the ecosystems therein and share the common goal of improving and enhancing the value of the Stahl Area for both the public and wildlife. This group is not a government advisory group, but will be an important source of support and public comments.
What will The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group do?
The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group will be a constituency to promote the park to visitors through publications and special events. It can lending expertise and knowledge to educational and interpretive programs and in some cases, the Stahl Natural Area Friends Group can provide volunteers to help improve, maintain and enhance the park experience for visitors and the species that live there.
Friends First Meeting and a Call for Volunteers to Help with Herpetofauna Road Crossing Survey – Saturday, March 15, 2014 @ 10 am- 12 PM at Bedminster Town Hall located at 1 Miller Lane, Bedminster Township, NJ 07921
The first order of business for the Friends Group is to solicit volunteers to assist with a herpetofauna road crossing survey at the Stahl Natural Area. What are herpetofauna? Herpetofauna is reptiles and amphibians, and the Stahl Natural Area has a lot of them!
As part of the habitat restoration work mandated by NJDEP at River Road park, Bedminster Township will be installing four amphibian and reptile tunnels along River Road to assist with herpetofauna migration to and from breeding areas at the Stahl Area. In conjunction with Montclair State University, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) and New Jersey Audubon, the Friends Group is seeking volunteers to assist in the collection of data (i.e. identify and count species) as part of a pre-construction survey to estimate herpetofauna populations during spring and early summer migration (March 2014 to June 30, 2014).
As part of the March 15, 2014 training day, a presentation about the project will be given by NJDFW and Montclair University, survey protocols will be explained and herpetofauna identification will be provided. No survey or species identification experience is needed. You do not need to be a resident of Bedminster –but you should live close by. Please note that survey work will involve the handling of animals, may involve adverse weather conditions, walking on uneven terrain and through brush, and some work will involve crossing River Road which does have active traffic. Therefore, we are looking volunteers 18 or older OR high school students/scout groups under the supervision of a parent or guardian or teacher/scout master.
You must pre-register for this training BEFORE March 13 by emailing or calling John Parke of New Jersey Audubon at email@example.com or 908-813-8325
As I watch the birds consume the berries of the Staghorn Sumac trees over the cold snow covered landscape, I thought to myself how this tree is often thought of as a “weed” of roadside and urban areas. I also thought how many times I have had folks mistake it for its cousin Poison Sumac, or the non-native invasive look-a-like Tree-of-Heaven. It is with this information in mind that I present to you Staghorn Sumac: a very underrated and important native plant to NJ’s landscape.
The largest of the North American sumacs, Staghorn Sumac is wide spread in the northeastern US. Resembling a small tree, Staghorn Sumac is very fast growing and forms “thicket colonies” in the wild via self-seeding and root suckering. These sumac “tree colonies” also provide nesting and shelter sites for many bird species. Staghorn sumac is generally pest-disease free, it’s drought tolerant and does very well in full sun to partial shade and in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. They are very tolerant of a wide range of soils, except for wetland type soils (i.e., poorly drained).
Staghorn Sumac is very important to habitat restoration because of its ability to grow in harsh conditions, especially on dry nutrient poor soil areas, thin soils, embankments and impossible slopes where even red cedar struggles. It is a very valuable plant for soil erosion control because of its shallow spreading root system and therefore is frequently used in mine reclamation sites, landfills, buffer strips to waterways in agricultural fields and windbreaks on farm fields that are on slopes.
What many people don’t know about Staghorn Sumac is the tiny greenish-yellow flowers which bloom in the spring are very important source of nectar for several butterfly species, including banded and striped hairstreaks. It is also a larval host of spring azure butterfly. According to the The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Staghorn Sumac is rated as a plant of “Special Value to Native Bees”. In fact, it is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees for its pollen and nectar as well as the plant provides nesting materials/structure for native bees Furthermore, Staghorn Sumac encourages biological control as it attracts predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon pest insects.
But by far it is the fruits of the Staghorn Sumac that really make it special! The red cone-shaped cluster panicles of hairy berries ripen in autumn and gradually turn dark red as they last through the winter. These berries offer exceptional food for wildlife, especially in winter. American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, and approximately 300 other species of songbirds incorporate the Staghorn Sumac fruit into their diet. It is also known to be important winter forage for game birds such as Ruffed Grouse, Ring-necked Pheasant, Northern Bobwhite, and Wild Turkey. Squirrels and cottontail rabbits will also consume the berries, but will also eat sumac bark.
NJ Audubon promotes the use of native plants for landscaping and wildlife habitat restoration, but we also promote the use of native plants in connection with agricultural practices and farming. According to a 2014 United Nations report “Agriculture takes up 1/3 of the land on earth and 38% of that arable land has become degraded. Land is a finite resource, we need to become more efficient in the ways we produce, supply and consume." With this concept in mind NJ Audubon supports our friend Ms. Tama Matsuoka-Wong’s efforts of creating a “Wild Farm” using Staghorn Sumac as a test crop. For more information about Tama’s “Wild Farm” project please see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/421744326/the-wild-farm-producing-local-sumac-spices
New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is working collaboratively with Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) to evaluate the effects of vegetation maintenance activities along transmission Right’s-of-Way. This project is focused in the New Jersey Highlands region and seeks to provide recommendations for future corridor management that will maintain and improve habitat for wildlife (e.g., leading to increases in population or reproductive output), especially species of greatest conservation need. More specifically, the overall goal of the project is to develop habitat management strategies for PSEG transmission line corridors that provide the greatest benefit to young forest wildlife, while satisfying the company’s regulatory requirements for vegetation maintenance and management. In a heavily forested landscape, utility Right-of-Way's (ROW's) can offer important habitat not only for young forest breeding birds, but for a number of terrestrial species that need an open-canopy for nesting, basking or foraging. Turtles are an excellent example of how ROWs can be an important in satisfying certain habitat needs. During the 2013 field season an exposed snapping turtle nest was found offering the opportunity to observe the hatching process. To the right is an image of a new hatchling with the yolk sac that provides nourishment right after hatching. This is quickly absorbed. We hope you enjoy viewing this fascinating wildlife spectacle through the pictures and video posted here.
An exposed snapping turtle nest was found this summer and the eggs were taken home to hatch and record the process. Below are the turtles–returning to the wild…..
On September 23, 2013, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Carrie Mosley announced the New Jersey recipients of the 2013 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). The grant program, intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, supports environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production.
One of only three CIG projects funded in the state was Laine Farms (Hillsborough, NJ) who will work with New Jersey Audubon to pursue a 3-year project on the “Use of a Specialty Commodity Crop to Aid and Maximize Habitat Values for Grassland Dependent Bird Species.”
With a limited economic market for native warm-season grass, along with trends in crop production moving towards increased corn and soybean production, Laine Farms and NJ Audubon are proposing an alternative to the standard biofuel crops. The alternative crop Spelt, is anticipated to provide agricultural producers with economic diversity and stability while also providing critical habitat for grassland dependent birds.
Spelt (Triticum aestivum var. spelta) is a sub-species of common wheat. Spelt is used for both human consumption, as well as an alternative livestock feed. Spelt is similar in physical structure and growing-season to the typical native warm-season grasses used for biofuel and can conceivably accommodate the needs of grassland dependent birds. The use of this surrogate crop also provides the producer with a viable commodity crop that already has an established and growing market in the United States, unlike the native warm-season grass for biofuel here in the Northeast. Furthermore, it can be planted with conventional equipment and is completely harvestable without the reliance on and/or restrictions of harvest presented under current USDA programs.
From an agriculture production standpoint, incorporating spelt into an existing crop rotation has benefits to the farming operations overall with improvement to soil and water quality. Spelt typically uses less fertilizer (e.g., Spelt requires about 25-50% less nitrogen than wheat) and chemicals for weed control than conventional crops and it can be utilized as an alternative cover crop. Spelt grows successfully in poorer soils (i.e., poorly-drained, low-fertility) than wheat, including heavy clay, and can even tolerate dryer conditions as well, including sandy soils. Spelt is drought tolerant and does not require irrigation, making it similar to native grasses. Based on this information alone, regarding soil and moisture requirements, spelt theoretically could be grown in every physiographic region of New Jersey.
Spelt is also very resistant to frosts and other extreme weather conditions and the grain's exceptionally thick husk protects it from pollutants and insects. As spelt is a pure, original, grain and not biologically modified in any way, it is very resistant to the crop diseases that often plague modern crop varieties and it grows quite successfully without the application of herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides.
From a wildlife resource perspective, spelt is similar in structure to many of the native warm-season grasses promoted for biofuel use and more importantly spelt is typically harvested AFTER July 15. This harvest time will not impact the critical breeding bird months (i.e., April – Mid July); unlike the harvesting of cool-season grass hay crops or other grain crops such as rye, oats, barley or wheat.
The project has significant potential to resolve how to provide critical wildlife habitat on agricultural production land without sacrificing agricultural commodity (food) production. If successful this would be the first agricultural commodity crop that can be harvested without restriction, while providing critical grassland habitat to some of the rarest bird species in NJ.
This is Laine Farms’ 2nd CIG award, and the second in collaboration with New Jersey Audubon. This is New Jersey Audubon’s 4th CIG collaboration project.
Photos by John Parke (Top Right: Jim Laine showing spelt; Left: Close–up of spelt gain in husk; Right: Bobolink, a grassland species that is a Threatened species in NJ.
A guest blog to Stewardship by NJ Audubon volunteer Bonnie O'Connor
No, this isn’t about the famous Marx Brothers routine; the intention is to lift the basket off a very bright light. I am referring to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp or the Duck Stamp as it is affectionately called. It is one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated.
My introduction to the Federal Duck Stamp program occurred when my profession as an Art teacher and my avocation as an avid birder collided. In an effort to inspire my sixth grade drawing class, I discovered the Junior Duck Stamp contest. The contest is open to all students grades kindergarten through 12th grade in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The program incorporates learning about conservation, science, and nature through artistic expression. As the young artists worked on their drawings, they learned about the fascinating story of the Federal Duck stamp including history, politics, artists, and wildlife. Most of all they learned the importance of conserving our natural environment, and then there were the ducks! Waterfowl mounts obtained from the Newark Museum combined with a myriad of visuals assisted the students in honing their drawing skills while observing the beauty and habitats of their subjects. The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor is the official site for Junior Duck Stamp entries and judging in New Jersey.
The Federal Duck Stamp contest is the only federally legislated Art competition in the country. The first Federal Duck Stamp was designed by Jay “Ding” Darling, a political cartoonist in 1934 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It depicts two mallards about to land on a marsh pond.
On June 28th the 2013-14 Migratory Waterfowl Hunting and Conservation Stamp went on sale. It is a non-postal stamp that can be purchased at U.S. post offices, national wildlife refuges and at some sporting goods stores. It can also be purchased on line at www.duckstamp.com. The cost is $15.00 dollars. Hunters sixteen years or older must purchase the stamp for their hunting license. The Duck Stamp also serves as a “season pass” of entry to the 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S.
Perhaps the most commanding reason to purchase a Duck Stamp is that 98% of the proceeds are used to invest in the conservation of wildlife habitat. Since 1934, sales of the Federal Duck Stamp have generated more than $850 million dollars, which has been used to purchase or lease over six million acres of wetland habitat in the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversee and manage these lands. Waterfowl are not the only wildlife to benefit from the sale of Duck Stamps. Numerous other birds, mammal fish, reptile and amphibian species that rely on wetlands have benefited. An estimated one-third of the nation’s endangered and threatened species find food and shelter in refuges established using Federal Duck Stamp funds. In New Jersey, the Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired 51,317 fee acres and 2 lease acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System using Duck Stamp dollars. This accounts for approximately 67% of all refuge land in New Jersey.
The Duck Stamp is a treasure at risk. The number of people who hunt waterfowl in the U.S. has declined since the mid 1990’s. This has resulted in a reduction of the number of Duck Stamps sold. The drop in revenue could mean a possible reduction in the protection and conservation of wildlife habitat. Although the Stamp is mandatory for a hunting license, each year it provides 25 million dollars in funds to protect wetlands habitat in the national wildlife refuge system for the benefit of wildlife and recreation. A 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 71.1 million wildlife watchers in the U.S. and bird watching has been documented to be the fastest growing leisure activity. The population of non-hunters including wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, artists and stamp collectors represents a powerful force. The support of this community could insure continued success of the Duck Stamp program in the future.
Buying and displaying a Duck Stamp would be a symbol, a “badge of honor” of one’s respect for the conservation of the natural environment we all cherish.
As a member of several nature and wildlife organizations both national and local, I have yet to encounter advocacy for the Duck Stamp program. There are certainly numerous venues to raise awareness. Nature centers, workshops, field trips print ads in nature magazines to name a few. People are more inclined to support and protect what they love. I am confident that if more people were informed and understood what a $15.00 investment could do for conservation of these precious resources the likelihood of their support would increase substantially. Isn’t time we lift the basket off this bright light. Why a Duck Stamp? WHY NOT!
The Duck Stamp Story- Eric jay Dolin and Bob Dumaine 2000
The Wild Duck Chase- Martin J. Smith 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service www.fws.gov
New Jersey Audubon embraces the concept of sustainable foraging because it is an excellent way for people to engage nature and learn about the importance of natural resource protection, habitat and agriculture, and it’s a healthy activity that can taste great too!
Knowing where your food comes from, linking the food to the land, creates better educational opportunities and allows us to recognize the role conservation plays in protecting natural resources (e.g., soil, water, wildlife) on a regional scale.
Where our food comes from and how it is grown, whether on a farm or wild in nature, has a profound effect on our landscapes, our health, our wildlife and the communities where we live. How we care for our environment and the landscape it exists within is the key to a meaningful, healthy, and enjoyable existence.
What many people overlook, or take for granted - when they buy, cook, or even pick food from either their gardens or in nature -is what goes into the production of the plant and its fruits. Meaning, food doesn't just show up -it is grown. To grow, plants need good soil, clean water, suitable places to grow, pollinators, soil microbes, wildlife (such as birds and other animals dispersing seeds), and the plants can’t be out competed by invasive non-native vegetation or eaten by deer. Unless you undertake conservation measures and practice natural resource protection many of the essential building blocks necessary for food production break down, ecological balance will be broken. Sustainable management of natural resources is essential to make food systems sustainable. Sustainable management of natural resources is what NJ Audubon undertakes through our conservation initiatives.
Some may think that NJ Audubon is just a bird watching organization - not true – NJ Audubon is a conservation organization! While our roots stem from advocacy on behalf of birds, and while we certainly have a deep appreciation for and commitment to bird watching, the organization’s mission extends to all native wildlife, plants and their habitats. In particular we are especially focused on those species and systems that are rare or declining. Our work helps conserve the environment, protect natural recourses and restore critical habitat for the benefits of wildlife and people.
REMEMBER: The main rule of foraging is: Never, ever eat a wild plant without being POSITIVE about its identification.
Renowned Forger and Author of Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer's Market, Tama Matsuoka Wong see here (On LEFT), harvests chestnuts from a non-native Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima) tree at NJ Audubon Wattles Stewardship Center.
Spicebush (Lindera benzoic) (On RIGHT). Spicebush leaves and fruit are often foraged in the fall. But did you know that over 20 species of birds feed on the small, brilliant red fruits formed on female plants. These berries are one of the best sources of energy for long distance migratory birds. Also the larva (caterpillar) of the Spicebush and Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies feeds on the leaves.
It has been another highly successful year for the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) that has seen habitat restoration projects benefiting wildlife species all over the State. On September 13, 2013 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hosted the CSC’s annual meeting at their offices in Trenton. Filling in for NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, was Acting Deputy Commissioner Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., who applauded members of the Council for their commitment to ecological sustainability and praised the importance of the CSC initiative that affords the private sector an opportunity to take leadership roles in conservation stewardship.
The meeting was presided over by Co-Chairmen, Mr. Ralph LaRossa, President of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and Mr. Keith Campbell, Chairman of the Board of Mannington Mills, Inc. Mr. Campbell recently accepted the position of CSC Co-Chairman after the retirement of former Co-Chair Mr. Dennis Bone in 2012. Headquartered in Salem, New Jersey, and founded in 1915 by his great grandfather John Boston Campbell, Mannington Mills is now one of the largest flooring manufacturers in the world. It is also the only North American-based company engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of residential and commercial resilient, laminate, hardwood and porcelain tile floors, as well as commercial carpet and rubber. Mannington Mills is also recipient of two Governors Environmental Excellence Awards and is a recognized leader of sustainable practices.
The CSC also recognized and expressed our sincere thanks to former CSC Co-Chairman, Mr. Dennis Bone. In 2012, Mr. Bone retired as President of Verizon's New Jersey area and had presided over the CSC as Co-Chairman since its inception in 2007. New Jersey Audubon is grateful for his willingness to co-chair the CSC at its beginning stages and provide leadership over the years to assure its success. Mr. Bone’s tenure as CSC Co-chair brought with it great growth, on-the ground conservation, and recognition of CSC members and NJ Audubon. Below is just a snap-shot of CSC achievements under Mr. Bone’s tenure:
· Since its inception, the CSC has increased its membership from 11 to 18 members.
· Since its inspection a total of 22 projects encompassing over 420 acres have been completed.
· Within those 22 projects, habitat for 21 different NJ listed species (Threatened or Endangered Species) are being managed for. (This does not include State Species of Special Concern with which there are many that occur on these project sites)
· Several projects that had also involved nest box installations and monitoring have fledged over 3,360 new birds (combination of purple martin, tree swallow, American kestrel and eastern bluebird).
· Two CSC projects (Verizon and Mannington Mills) have won the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award in the Healthy Ecosystem and Healthy and Sustainable Businesses categories, respectively.
· One CSC project, New Jersey American Water, has won the New Jersey Business and Industry Environmental Quality Award.
To see current summary information regarding individual CSC Member Projects go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Portals/10/Conservation/PDF/2013CSCBrochure.pdf
Some have suggested as a result of the editorial focused on the Healthy Forest Act that was posted in the Star-Ledger (http://bit.ly/1949A92) and Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/17jurmx) on 7August 2013 that New Jersey Audubon stands to gain financially as a result of passage of the Act. These suggestions are not true or well founded, and are attempts at weakening support for the Act and the efforts that many have made to restore New Jersey’s forests to a healthy condition.
New Jersey Audubon holds a Forest Stewardship Council Group Certificate, and has not generated profit while helping partners meet the FSC standards on their land under our certificate. New Jersey Audubon is a nonprofit and therefore all the money that the organization raises is used to support the implementation of conservation projects and programs. New Jersey Audubon staff raised the money to pay for FSC related audits and certification costs, covering New Jersey Audubon property and the state’s Sparta Wildlife Management Area. The funding sources come from competitive grant programs and private individuals who believe in and financially support the work that we do.
Regarding certification, New Jersey Audubon does not have a monopoly on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in NJ. Anyone or any group can go through the process to obtain a FSC Group Certificate or FSC Certification. The Nature Conservancy is a FSC Group Certificate holder, but they have chosen not to engage in FSC Certification in NJ, at least to date. The State of NJ could choose to obtain FSC Certification directly and pay for their own audits, as has been done by the State of Pennsylvania. Most state entities that are FSC certified have their own certificate. We don’t expect that the DEP would look to NJ Audubon or other NGOs to handle the certification process for state lands. Even if the state wanted to partner on FSC Certification, we at New Jersey Audubon don’t envision taking on FSC Certification at the scale of all state forest lands. The inclusion of the Sparta Wildlife Management Area in NJ Audubon’s group certificate was done as a demonstration project in order to provide the state with some experience and understanding of the FSC process.
New Jersey Audubon continues to support the Healthy Forest Act and efforts to improve the condition of New Jersey forests. We hold this position because it is the right and necessary thing to do to protect and conserve wildlife habitat, air quality, water quality, mitigate against climate change, as well as and in addition to providing numerous recreation opportunities for the citizens of the state. New Jersey Audubon’s mission is to foster environmental awareness and a conservation ethic among New Jersey's citizens; protect New Jersey's birds, mammals, other animals, and plants, especially endangered and threatened species; and to promote the preservation of New Jersey's valuable natural habitats.
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) partnered with New Jersey Audubon and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to help the State threatened American Kestrel . This successful collaboration has resulted in the birth of two kestrel hatchlings at the South Branch Wildlife Management Area in 2013.
“JCP&L is proud to lend our support on this important effort,” said Jim Fakult, JCP&L president. “By returning habitat to wildlife, we are working together to improve ecosystems in the state of New Jersey. Our ongoing participation on New Jersey Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council illustrates JCP&L’s continuing interest in having an active role in protecting the environment in the communities we serve.”
JCP&L teamed with New Jersey Audubon and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to band the kestrel chicks for future study of migratory patterns at the South Branch Wildlife Management Area. Created in 2006, the 422-acre site has been identified as a critical area for protecting nesting populations of threatened and endangered grassland birds. JCP&L helped restore the area by removing and recycling old electric wire, transformers and utility poles left by a former owner, and recently worked with New Jersey Audubon and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to install the nest boxes where the kestrel chicks were born.
“New Jersey Audubon congratulates JCP&L for the habitat enhancement work they performed as part of the Corporate Stewardship Council,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director—North Jersey for New Jersey Audubon. “The birth of these kestrel chicks is a shining example of how effective collaboration leads to successful conservation efforts.”
Kestrels perform an important ecosystem function by helping to manage a wide variety of pests, including mice and insects. Unlike other predatory birds, kestrels nest in holes they find in tree trunks, but they do respond well to nest boxes. They have been placed on New Jersey’s threatened species list due to a lack of suitable habitat and the scarcity of nesting sites. For more information about kestrels and how to build a kestrel nest box please see http://www.nj.com/warrenreporter/index.ssf/2013/07/warren_county_wildlife_the_ame.html
As a member of the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), the Johnson & Johnson Skillman, NJ campus has become the first corporate site in the state to participate in New Jersey Audubon’s “Jersey Grown” S.A.V.E.TM (Support Agricultural Viability and the Environment) initiative, by growing black-oil sunflowers on site. The S.A.V.E.TM initiative, which promotes the production of agricultural products that are economically and ecologically sustainable, earned a 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation.
The sunflowers grown at the Johnson & Johnson site will be harvested for birdseed that will be sold through the New Jersey Audubon S.A.V.E.TM brand label and are certified “Jersey Grown” sunflower birdseed. The program benefits New Jersey’s agricultural community and the environment, because it is grown locally thereby eliminating the need for extensive use of fossil fuels in transit, thus reducing its carbon footprint. Additionally the initiative illustrates the seed’s significance to the farmers’ revenue stream as it provides direct access to a local niche market for a crop that offers them a greater price per acre than traditional grain crops, most notably corn and soybeans. However, it is equally, if not more, significant to the birds and New Jersey Audubon’s conservation mission which for every 5 acres planted in sunflowers, New Jersey Audubon manages and maintains 1-acre of early successional habitat for threatened and endangered species.
"We are so excited to have Johnson & Johnson and Frank Drift of Dutchtown Nurseries be a part of this innovative program," said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJ Audubon-North Region. "It is the first time a CSC member has been able to combine conservation objectives with agricultural viability on their own campus.”
With the S.A.V.E.TM initiative underway at Johnson & Johnson, the company and NJA have entered a 10-year agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to implement a habitat restoration project at the Skillman, NJ facility. This agreement is through the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, which has tailored the project to the site’s geography. Specifically, the site is a prime location for restoring early successional habitat, such as native grasslands, scrub-shrub fields, and pollinator meadows, along with emergent wetlands enhancements.
This habitat restoration will benefit numerous migratory bird species such as: American woodcock, field sparrow, willow flycatcher, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, prairie warbler, indigo bunting, as well as state-listed species such as bobolink, American kestrel and eastern meadowlark. Additionally many bird nest boxes will be erected on the site as part of the habitat enhancement.
"It is the location of the Johnson & Johnson site in the Central Piedmont Plains, (a unique region of New Jersey rich in both a broad diversity of wildlife and natural habitat), which makes this project even more special!” said Parke. “We commend Johnson & Johnson’s outstanding commitment to sustaining native wildlife populations while promoting biodiversity and local agriculture for the community at large."
“Through their interest in good corporate land stewardship, Johnson and Johnson is helping water quality, providing habitat to pollinators, and providing nesting and foraging opportunities for a variety of migratory birds that have vulnerable populations.” said Brian Marsh, Private Land Biologist with USFWS. “Being dedicated to relatively simple measures, such as converting mowed lawn immediately around ponds to buffers of unmowed grasses and native shrubs, can make a big difference to wildlife and water quality by attracting a variety of songbirds while making the area less attractive to Canada geese.” added Marsh.
“Johnson & Johnson is honored to be part of NJ Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council and the S.A.V.E™ initiative in partnership with NJ Audubon and USFWS,” said Brain K. Boyd, Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Worldwide Environment, Health & Safety. “Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of families everywhere. To fulfill this goal, we must protect the environments in which we work and live, as a healthy planet and a healthy community go hand in hand. This is an excellent opportunity to preserve the region’s beauty, resources and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.”