2017 Conservation Highlights

Because of your support, 2017 was a banner year for conservation in the Garden State.

For all its highways and neighborhoods and silly television shows, New Jersey at its heart is defined by its beautiful lands and waters. The same holds true for New Jersey residents, whose real nature is passion for protecting our wildlife and great outdoors—now and for future generations. Because of your support, 2017 was a banner year for conservation in the Garden State.

We are working to protect critical habitat for endangered bobcats in northwestern New Jersey by connecting preserved land between two great mountain ranges: the Appalachians and the Highlands. The protected greenway will be a place where bobcats can roam, raise kittens and flourish. We call it “Bobcat Alley.”

One-third of the 32,000-acre corridor is already protected, and our plan is to conserve another 3,500 acres by 2020. The good news is that thanks to generous support from members like you, we have been able to protect more than 600 acres toward this goal!

In Fall 2016, we completed installation of a half-mile, experimental oyster reef breakwater at Gandy’s Beach Preserve on Delaware Bay to demonstrate how nature-based infrastructure can protect the coastline and improve habitat. In 2017, less than a year later, post-construction monitoring showed 750,000 baby oysters, 71% of which survived the winter and are growing rapidly. More oysters will start growing on the reef every summer! Monitorings shows an overall 13% reduction in wave energy and 50% at low to mid-tide. Sand building up behind the structures is a promising sign that the reef can help sustain important horseshoe crab beaches.

 

In August, we completed a 16-year effort with Middle Township in Cape May County, through which we have added over 675 acres to our Indian Trail Swamp Preserve. The latest acquisition consisted of more than 50 separate lots totaling 45 acres in this preserve that protects rare Cape May Lowland Swamp and important stopover habitat for migrating birds.

 

 

While experimental projects using clean dredge material to build up the elevation of drowning marshes were being completed in Avalon and Ring Island on the Atlantic Coast and Fortescue on Delaware Bay, Conservancy staff monitored the sites and installed equipment to determine whether the increased elevation can compete with sea level rise. In 2017, these restored areas showed good vegetation growth and the homecoming of turtles, birds and other marsh dwellers!

In our push to remove the Columbia Dam just before the Paulins Kill’s juncture with the Delaware River, this year we facilitated surrender of the dam operation lease, completed plans for removal, and applied for permits. This project will reconnect 20 miles of mainstem and tributaries with the Delaware, improving water quality and allowing native species like shad access to historic spawning grounds for the first time in more than 100 years!

To repair damaged floodplains, this year 8,000 more native trees and shrubs were planted along the Paulins Kill River, bringing the total to 32,000 in the ground since the restoration program began in 2012. Reconnected stretches of natural floodplain now span nearly 15 miles, helping reduce erosion, filter runoff, store carbon and cool the water as air temperatures increase.

With your support, we can achieve our ambitious goal to protect the lands and waters that sustain New Jersey’s people and wildlife. Help us protect the real nature of New Jersey.

 

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