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Volunteers Help Restore Maritime Forest at Cape May Point State Park

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Volunteers came to Cape May Point State Park (CMPSP) in May and June to help hand pull and weed invasive plants like garlic mustard and sweet autumn clematis within the maritime forest restoration site. It’s not easy work, but the dedicated volunteers take pride in knowing they are helping to improve habitat for local wildlife and migrating birds. Many are battling the same invasive plants in their own backyards and bring their expertise in identifying and combating invasives to the restoration site. Volunteers weeding clematis at Cape May Point State Park

This restoration project is especially important since maritime forest, a rare ecological plant community that includes both maritime dune woodlands and maritime uplands, is critical habitat for migrating birds and resident wildlife. The restoration is in its second year, and native plant regeneration can already be seen. Native asters and black cherry and sassafras seedlings are growing in areas once covered in invasive vines. The success we are seeing with native plant regeneration and a reduction in invasive plant growth is due to the hard work and dedication of volunteers who assist with weeding, pulling, and sniping invasive plants.

Hand weeding and pulling invasive plants is an effective control strategy to reduce invasive plant populations, especially when combined with other methods, like mowing and herbicide application. This combination of control treatments is being used by NJ Audubon and CMPSP staff, who are collaborating on the five-acre maritime forest restoration project. At CMPSP, maritime Native asters and black cherry regenerating at Cape May Point State Parkforests are degraded due to numerous invasive plants that dominate these areas, including several invasive vines that threaten the survival of mature trees and impair native plant regeneration. The goal of this restoration project is to reduce invasive plants Volunteers filled the bed of this truck with invasive plants seven times!in the forest understory while leaving mature trees to provide habitat and a seed source to help native regeneration occur. To help increase native plant diversity, deer fencing will be erected to minimize deer browse of native plant species. This is a long-term restoration project that requires careful monitoring of plants and animals to help us achieve our goal of providing healthy maritime forest habitat for migrating and resident wildlife.

If you are interested in volunteering for NJ Audubon on this project or other projects, please contact Suzanne Treyger at 609-861-1608 x 23 or suzanne.treyger@njaudubon.org. This project is made possible through funding from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Atlantic City Electric.