Stewardship Blog

NJ Audubon Stewardship Dept. Receives Funding for Habitat and Water Quality Enhancement in Delaware River Watershed

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has also funded two exciting NJ Audubon Stewardship projects.  The first, Synergistic Conservation Strategies 100_4176in the Highlands, aims to achieve water quality enhancement by improving riverine and headwaters habitat.  Funded at $132,000, the project will focus on riparian restoration and implementation of agricultural and forest Best Management Practices.  The second project, Agricultural BMPs for K-C Cluster Focal Areas, aims to increase use of agricultural and forest Best Management Practices to protect water resources in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer system and associated waterways. Funded at $140,000, this project will reduce agricultural impacts to streams, wetlands, and groundwater resources.  Both projects are two-year initiatives.

The NFWF funding will be used in conjunction with funding received earlier in the year from the William Penn Foundation for work to improve, enhance and restore land, especially along water bodies, that provides both habitat and natural resource protection opportunities. These areas of the Delaware River watershed not only are important for drinking water and fish species, but are habitat for numerous wildlife species that are dependent on high water quality for their survival.

Blackducks (PARKE)Healthy landscapes with working farms and forests in the Delaware River watershed produce abundant food and fiber and support vibrant rural economies. They also provide clean water, clean air, and valuable wildlife habitat that benefit their own communities and urban neighbors,” said Jason Weller, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

If you are a farmer or rural landowner in the Lower Musconetcong River, Upper Paulin’s Kill River and Lopatcong River Sub-Watersheds in the Highlands region contact John Parke at john.parke@njaudubon.org for more information about the project and to see if you are eligible to receive funds or technical assistance.  For farmers and rural landowners in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer region of southern  NJ please contact Jean Lynch at jean.lynch@njaudubon.org .

Photos by John Parke

Uncommon Oak Defoliator in Warren County

While doing some work in front of my barn I noticed small caterpillars falling onto my project from an overhead chestnut oak. I didn’t recognize what type of insect they were, but since they didn’t appear to be causing too much damage to the tree, I went back to my work and forgot about them. Then later that same day, I headed back into my woodlot to check on something and noticed that quite a few of my white and chestnut oaks were almost completely defoliated.

 My first thought was gypsy moth, but I also noted that the red and black oaks appeared untouched, which didn’t seem to make sense. I looked around for a while and could find no evidence of gypsy moth. After returning to the house, I gathered a few of the caterpillars and started looking for them in reference materials – then on the internet. It turns out that the caterpillars damaging my white oaks are a relatively little known species native to the eastern half of the country from Ontario to Georgia, called the Black–dotted Brown Moth Cissusa spadix. This particular caterpillar is relatively unknown because it is almost never considered a pest. However, according to articles on the internet, there has been an unexplained population explosion of the insect in several southern states, which occurred last month. Given the seasonal difference between here and Georgia, an outbreak occurring in New Jersey a month later makes sense. It might be good for landowners to be aware that oak defoliations this year may be caused by something else in addition to Gypsy Moth.