Author Archives: Carolyn

Roots for River – Riparian Restoration in the Sourlands.

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The Sourland Conservancy, Mercer County Park Commission and AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador Program partnered on a riparian restoration project that was funded by a grant from The Watershed Institute and The New Jersey Nature Conservancy. The restoration project took place along Moores Creek, near Howell Living History Farm, in the Sourland Mountain region.

A riparian zone is the area between a river and the land. This area typically floods when there have been heavy rains or snowmelt, and the path of a river can change as well as the riparian zone. Riparian zones or buffers, are important for many reasons. A riparian buffer that has established trees and other woody plants will have extensive root systems that will hold soil during flooding events and reduce erosion. Erosion can have devastating impacts on both aquatic and terrestrial species, because when stream banks erode, there is a loss of habitat for terrestrial organisms, and stream’s flow is impacted.

Reduced vegetation in the riparian zone can affect water temperatures. Shade provided by trees keeps water temperature cooler during the summer months, which is important because many aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish need cool water to thrive. Another critical factor brought on by water temperature is that warm water does not hold as much oxygen as cold water. If the macroinvertebrates and fish are not doing well, there is a reduction food sources for other organisms further up the food chain such as raccoons, foxes and birds of prey, such as the Bald Eagle.

Riparian buffers can also reduce pollution from entering the river and stream by reducing the risk of eutrophication and dead zones in water bodies.  Eutrophication is when there are excess nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, and this increase in nutrients will cause an algal bloom – because nitrogen and phosphorus are limiting nutrients for algae. The algal bloom can block sunlight from reaching aquatic plants that are below the water surface as well as creating thick mats that make it difficult for organisms to swim through. Once the algae begin to die and sink to the bottom, detritivores (animals that feeds on dead organic material, usually plant detritus) begin consuming the algae and in order to metabolize the algae, they use oxygen that is in the water. The increase in detritivore metabolism removes almost all of the oxygen from the water, which creates an anoxic environment for fish and other aquatic organisms, killing them. This has a cascading effect on the rest of the ecosystem, because so many animals depend on aquatic organisms for food and they need clean water to drink.

The almost 9 acre parcel where the Roots for Rivers project took place is owned by Mercer County. There is visible erosion along the stream banks, so this planting is critical to restore stream health there and downstream. This planting will as act as a filtering buffer between runoff from the active agriculture and livestock present upslope in the watershed and the impervious surface of the road on the other side of Moores creek. There is also a tributary that runs along the western edge of the property, which would also benefit from this restoration project.

Over a two week period, 10 staff members from Sourland Conservancy, New Jersey DEP, New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors, Mercer County Parks Commission and Howell Living History Farm and over 250 individuals, families, corporations and groups including Bank of America, Educational Testing Service, MCCCC YouthCorps volunteers came together to plant 1,800 trees!

Together, the group planted 51 different species of native shrubs and trees. The plants varied in the habitat preference from “wettest” to “wet” to “dry”. The plants that preferred the “wettest” habitat were planted closer to Moores Creek, and the ones that preferred a more dry habitat were planted furthest away from the creek. The Sourland Conservancy purchased plants from Pinelands Nursey, Fernbrook Nursery and the New Jersey Forest Service. Some of the species we planted were American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), River Birch (Betula nigra), Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and High Bush Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum).

I am so proud of the work we did together. My Wild Boys came out with me on the last day of planting and their enthusiasm for planting was amazing. My oldest tells everyone that his mom’s job is to “save trees” and I cannot lie, it makes me tear up with pride. I look forward to the day when I can take my grown Wild Boys and maybe even my grandchildren to sit and picnic under the trees we planted. IMG_0960

Our truck full of native trees and shrubs from Pineland Nursery arrives!

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When the truck first opened, it didn’t seem like an overwhelming number of plants…

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Sourland Conservancy’s Board of Trustee and Chair of Stewardship, Chris, helping us unload the saplings.

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NJ DEP Staff member, Debbie, Watershed Ambassador, Fairfax and Sourland Conservancy’s Board of Trustee President, Dante, working hard together to unload the truck.

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Fairfax worked hard to organize the plants by species.

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Sourland Conservancy’s Board of Trustee President, Dante, is most definitely a tree hugger!

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Everyone worked hard to get the plants unloaded and then organized by habitat preference; dry, wet, wettest!

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Pinelands Nursery packed that truck like a clown car! We couldn’t believe how much room these plants took up once we got them all laid out in our “corral”.

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Shovels, planting bars and gloves ready for action!

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We started distributing plants to their designated locations so volunteers could start planting.

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Mercer County Parks Commission Land Stewards, Jillian and Alex, explain proper planting technique to a fabulous group of volunteers from Bank of America.

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Jillian and Alex demonstrating how to use a planting bar.

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And they are off!

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I love how enthusiastic everyone was.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Volunteers making headway on the planting.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Volunteers working together to place protective sleeves over the saplings to protect them from deer herbivory.

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Debbie and Fairfax, tree-hugger extraordinaires!

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Teamwork makes all the work go faster!

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Pete hooked up Tom and Jeb and took volunteers on a wagon ride to look over their work!

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Sourland Conservancy Staff (Carolyn, Caroline, and Laurie), Watershed Ambassador for WMA 11 (Fairfax), Mercer County Parks Commission Land Stewards (Alex and Jillian), NJ DEP (Debbie). We are all so proud of the hard working volunteers that got their hands dirty with us!

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Would this even be Sourland Niche without a pause to go look at flowers??? A beautiful big clump of spring beauties, Claytonia virginica.

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A spectacular Yellow Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum.

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Hold on to your Dutchman’s Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria!

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Ahhhh!!!  Could they be any more perfect?!

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Photo by Caroline Katmann

Jillian demonstrating how to place the protective sleeves on saplings to Trenton Youth Corp volunteers.

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Photo by Caroline Katmann

I love all the teamwork!

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Photo by Caroline Katmann

Riparian buffers are important so important between roads and rivers. These volunteers are planting on the side of Moore’s creek that is closet to the road.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Sourland Conservancy’s Board of Trustee, Roger, and Sourland Conservancy’s Executive Director, Caroline, working together to Save the Sourlands!

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Photo by Caroline Katmann

Teamwork is the best work!

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The Wild Boys came out for the last day of planting to lend a helping hand with getting the last 100 trees in the ground.

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Even Littlest was determined to get those saplings in the ground!

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My Oldest was actually very good at using the planting bar and getting these tubelings into the ground. He continues to amaze me with his abilities and determination.

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Littlest decided he should clear the paths from all large sticks and branches.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Littlest loves working with Sourland Conservancy’s Executive Director, Caroline. Once he saw her, he decided that she would be his working partner for the rest of the day. Here he is handing her the covers for the planting sleeves. These covers protect birds from getting trapped inside.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Littlest handing over twist ties to keep the sleeves securely fastened to the rod inside.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Packing soil around the base of the sleeves prevents voles from getting inside and eating the saplings.

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My big dude carrying a two-gallon contain tree! This container is almost one-third of his weight. I don’t think I could carry one-third of my weight so easily. He is so strong!

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Lunch time for the Wild Boys!

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

My coworker, Laurie, snapped this photo of the Wild Boys and I sitting down for lunch. I would love to try to recapture this photo in 15 years when these little saplings are providing shade for our picnic.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Littlest wanted to help push the wheel barrow!

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

Littlest gave up on pushing the wheelbarrow and instead let me push it while we talked about all the different types of trees we planted.

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Did you really think that these two Wild Boys could hang out by a river all day and not get a chance to stop and play? Their favorite stones to throw were the red shale because they loved to watch it shatter as it hit other rocks.

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Before!

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After!

 

Fishing in the Sourlands – The Wild Boys go fishing with their friend, Akash.

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One of my favorite things to do as a child (and now) is to go fishing!

When I was a child, my father and I would sometimes escape to the woods to fish for  trout or to the banks of a pond to catch sunnies.  Our angling adventures  provided a place for quiet conversation, silent contemplation and daydreams. Truth be told, we never actually caught much. But it was in those peaceful times by the water with my Dad that my love of the outdoors developed and grew stronger.

Remembering those special moments from my childhood, I decided to introduce my oldest to fishing when he was about 18 months old. He was too young to understand exactly what we were trying to accomplish. But over time, his interest in fishing began to blossom. This year, my littlest is using a fishing rod (with a practice weight because he is too young for a hook) and he enjoys casting and reeling. Fishing is a practice in patience for all of us. The children learn that it takes time for the fish to find the bait and take it (or not take it!). And I am learning that things do not always go according to plan and to just surrender and go with the flow.

Fishing is a wonderful way to take it slow for an hour or two, whether you are alone or sharing the good company of others.

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Searching for worms to use as bait!

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Our friend, Akash, teaches my oldest how to observe the bobber in order to determine if the fish is nibbling or if it actually took a bite.

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Fish on!!!

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He reeled that fish in like a champ!

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My oldest and Akash were very excited about the fish!

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Akash explains fish anatomy to my oldest. He shows him the eyes, gills, scales and protective spines on the fish’s dorsal fins.

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Even Littlest wanted a chance to touch the fish.

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My Wild Boys had a blast fishing with Akash. In the hour that we were fishing, my oldest caught 9 fish! He can’t wait to go fishing again. Littlest and I wandered around the farm, searching for rocks and sticks to throw in the pond. Littlest managed to scare a whole herd of goats with his squeals of excitement.

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Here are some fun fishing photos over the years with my Wild Boys.

 

Opening day for Trout fishing in 2016 and 2019. The first time that my oldest went fishing, he  didn’t have a youth sized rod. My rod was way too big for him and he struggled to hold onto it. The following year, I bought him his very own rod.

 

Littlest’s first time fishing! Trout fishing Opening Day 2019!

Blog Take-over: Connecting Children with Nature with Nicole Langdo of Painted Oak Nature School

“Connecting Children with Nature”
by Nicole Langdo
Saturday, April 13, 2019

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When the Sourland Conservancy asked me to talk about the importance of getting children outside one Thursday night in April, and then organize a group of children to see, hear, and touch the forest the following Saturday morning, I, of course, jumped at the chance! With nearly seven years leading children on outdoor learning adventures at Painted Oak Nature School under my belt, and over a dozen years of experience in other traditional school environments, I felt qualified and ready for the task at hand.

If you have been following education over the last two decades, you have noticed an evolution – children as young as five years old being expected to sit at desks for hours at a time to accomplish required paper and pencil tasks, blocks of time previously devoted to unstructured outdoor play have dwindled, and near constant assessment of student, and thereby teacher, performance through frequent testing has become the norm. Students report feeling stressed out, anxious, and unable to cope with the pressures of “life.” Feelings of despair and depression have led to suicide being the 2nd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds1 (2016.) With only 36% of American children getting the recommended physical activity a day2 due to increased school rigor and increased screen-time, it is no coincidence that obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years, ADHD is on the rise, as are incidents of bullying and social aggression.

So what can we do?! The answer is really quite simple – encourage unstructured outdoor play and a reconnection to nature. According to the biophilia hypothesis3, humans are hard-wired to connect with other living things. It is part of our DNA to want to be outside! Read anything by Richard Louv and the point for why getting outside is so important and the benefits of such will be made.

It is with all of this powerful information from Thursday night’s talk, that we eagerly set out last Saturday morning with over a dozen children, ages 2 – 10 years old, to hike Thompson Preserve in Hopewell, NJ. After an evening full of Spring rain the night before, this was no easy feat! The “Squelch Monster” was hungry and waiting to “eat a few boots” along the way.

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But the children would not be deterred. Promises of open-ended play and a tarp full of some simple materials to inspire exploration and creativity (magnifying glasses and chalk) provided all the motivation they needed to keep going.

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Having successfully maneuvered the grips of the Squelch Monster, we arrived at the newly fenced in area4 along the edge of the meadow. The children quickly located the blue tarp, selected materials, and were off! The fence provided parents a greater sense of comfort that allowed the children to run off together as a newly formed tribe to find more puddles, insects to identify, vines for swinging, and fallen trees for climbing and balancing.

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This also allowed parents to make social connections, swap stories, and resources, which after all, was the purpose of today’s hike – to empower parents with a few simple tools that will make getting their children outside feel possible, and to connect with others who may be interested in the same thing.

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Today marked the beginning of a Hopewell Valley Family Nature Club.5 Family Nature Clubs (FNC) are intended to bring families together in nature. I hear so many parents share with me their own feelings of  anxiety about getting out in nature – where to go, what to do once we are there, will there be bears or snakes, or coyotes, isn’t it risky, what do I do with myself, my child will be bored after five minutes, then what? The idea, then, of a FNC is to set a time and place to meet other interested families in nature to hike and explore together. This creates a greater sense of security with safety in numbers, allows parents to socialize and meet other like-minded parents, and to share combined nature-knowledge. Another huge benefit is knowing that when a group of children get together, very little else is needed – the play takes over and parental structure can take a backseat.

By the end of our time together, which amounted to just a few short hours, little red bugs had been identified, skunk cabbage sniffed, wild edibles tasted, worms named, and new friendships forged.

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We felt empowered to hike back out to once again face the “hungry hands” of the muddy Squelch Monster; this time together.

SEE YOU OUTSIDE!

1cdc.gov
2American Academy of Pediatrics
3Developed by researcher Edward O. Wilson
4A reforestation project being completed by the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
5More information can be found at Children and Nature.org

 

Baldpate Mountain – a morning of bagels and blooms.

Baldpate Mountain Ted Stiles preserve is located on Fiddlers Creek Rd in Titusville NJ.

Link to trail map.

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Once upon a chilly April morning, a gang of ecologists gathered together in a search for Spring Ephemerals. Truth be told, I was looking for an excuse to botanize with a few of my favorite ecologists…so I lured them out before work with the promise of bagels and blooms. I have a fondness for down-time, when you can relax and do things simply for the pleasure of doing them rather than to complete a chore. Deadlines and meetings were closing in around me just a little too much, so I planned a short hike in order to get outside and play for an hour or two.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

A group of plant nerds sharing their enthusiasm for all things botanical!IMG_0109Cutleaf Toothwort, Cardamine concatenata, looks picture perfect this morning!IMG_0112Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica, about to open! It is fun to watch them begin to bloom. The flowers start out magenta pink and then turn blue. Sometimes you can get lucky and observe them grouped in a transitioning array of magentas and blues. Simply beautiful!IMG_0115A forest of Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, in bloom creates a beautiful yellow haze in the woods.

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

A close-up on Spicebush blooms.

IMG_0159A picture of a picture….

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

My favorite spring ephemeral, Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensisIMG_0121Here is a close up of Bloodroot flower petals. IMG_2247I love how a phone call does not distract from the excitement of discovering a bloom! IMG_0139While most of us were looking for Blooms, Jeff looked for Birds. Because “Birds” fit with my “B” theme, I will allow it 😉IMG_0145A Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, emerging from its sleep beneath the leaves. IMG_0171A pink Bloodroot! This is the first time that I have observed a pink bloodroot plant and on this hike, I was able to see quite a few.  I am curious to know why some are pink and some are white… perhaps a sub-species or a gene variant? The white and pink ones were growing in close proximity, so I don’t know if micro-site conditions affect the flower color. These flowers are fabulous!IMG_0202Hepatica, Anemone nobilis!!!! I have observed the leaves in the Summer and Fall but this is the first time that I have seen the beautiful Spring Glory of Hepatica in bloom.IMG_0225Rue Anemone, Thalictrum thalictroides, with flower petals about to open! I love the delicate leaves and flower stalks on this plant. They shimmy so perfectly in the most gentle of breezes.IMG_0195I love that this Bloodroot looks like a sunny-side up egg! I really could just photograph this flower all day every day and I would never be satisfied!IMG_0184Christmas tree fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, fiddleheads. There is so much sweetness in the Spring that between the flowers, baby animals and fiddleheads, I can barely contain my glee!IMG_0234Virginia Pennywort, Obolaria virginica! This is an S2 ranked plant, which means it is imperiled because of rarity or because other factors demonstrably make it very vulnerable to extinction or extirpation (extirpation means that an organism is locally extinct). Virginia Pennywort is a sweet little plant that can be easily passed by. But when those flowers open, it is so absolutely charming.IMG_0228Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginica, as beautiful and perfect as can be!

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Photo by Laurie Cleveland

The face we all make when trying to snap that perfect flower shot!

 

Saving Saplings – A Sourland Steward Workshop.

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Saving Saplings – A Sourland Steward Workshop: volunteers learned about the complexity of the ecosystem around us and how we, as Land Stewards, can effect positive change for the organisms around us – pollinators, birds, amphibians and other animals – including humans!

The Sourland Conservancy’s Naturalist Advisor, Jared Rosenbaum, has been training volunteers to identify plants and learn practical skills of habitat restoration in order to effect positive change on our ecosystem. On March 30th, Jared led a group of Sourland Stewardship Leaders and volunteers on a hike to a restoration area on Baldpate Mountain where the Sourland Conservancy and Mercer County Park Commission have been working to restore the native plant community. Two important aspects of the habitat restoration are removal of invasive plant species that are out-competing native plants and protecting native plants from deer herbivory.

Our group spent the first portion of our morning hike learning how to identify plants during a very tricky time of year – early spring! During the winter, buds are dormant and look fairly consistent between individuals of the same species. However, in the early spring these buds start to swell and open to reveal flowers and leaves and can look very different than their former selves – sort of like our awkward teenage phase… So when working out what a plant may or may not be, you may need to use many senses to help you figure out how to identify the plant. Sight, touch, smell and yes, taste! Be forewarned, you do not want to go sticking any plant in your mouth unless you are sure it is not toxic!

After our plant identification refresher, we learned how to build individual deer fencing around native trees and shrubs to allow them to grow past the browse line of deer. I learned that spicebush, Lindera benzoin, is an important nesting plant for neo-tropical birds. Unfortunately, deer herbivory can cause the shrub to not have the same growth habit (it would end up growing sparsely and in weird angles) and thus would not provide suitable nesting habitat. Another plant, blackhaw, Viburnum prunifolium, is an important food source to fuel migration in the fall. Without protection from deer browse, blakhaw will not grow large enough to produce flowers and fruits.

IMG_3546This group of volunteers was ready to work hard to Save the Sourlands!

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Jared introduced the restoration project and explained what has been done so far in this area.

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Jared going over basic plant anatomy and then giving key characteristics of spicebush, Lindera benzoin. It can be tricky to identify spicebush in the winter. Even without the leaves, you can still smell the plant by scratching away some bark with your fingernail and then taking a whiff.

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Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, flower bud that is just about to burst!

IMG_3572Jared described how to identify the different hickory (Carya spp.) species.

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Here is a young hickory sapling, Carya spp.. This is one of the target species we were working to protect.

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Sourland Conservancy Board member and Stewardship Committee Chair, Chris Berry, described how to identify blackhaw viburnum, Viburnum prunifolium.

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Jared pointed out key characteristics of bitternut hickory, Carya cordiformis.

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Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) is easy to distinguish from the other native hickories because of its sulphur-yellow buds.

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These large “Monkey face” leaf scars belong to black walnut, Juglans nigra. Walnuts and hickories belong to the same family, Juglandaceae.

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These dark brown buds belong to Green Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica. Two of the natives we looked at today, blackhaw viburnum and green ash have opposite branching patterns. This characteristic is not common among woody trees and shrubs in the Northeast, which can help you narrow down what species you are trying to identify.

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Two volunteers got started pre-cutting deer fencing while others went out to start marking native trees and shrubs to protect.

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We were aiming to protect the shrubs for the first 4 feet of their growth when they are most vulnerable to deer herbivory.

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Our volunteers were awesome and so focused during our workshop! It was wonderful seeing a group of people coming together working towards one goal – to save saplings and help protect the future of the forest.

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We used a small rebar post to sturdy the cages and prevent them from being blown by wind or knocked over by hungry deer.

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Our awesome group of volunteers worked together to assemble more than 40 cages! I am excited to watch this site over the next few years and see these saplings grow. During this workshop, Jared reminded us that we are active participants in this ecosystem, and instead of “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints”, we can help restore ecosystem function by promoting healthy forests through active land stewardship.

 

Supplies for Saving Saplings:

4’ x 100’ welded wire fence:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-4-ft-x-100-ft-Steel-Welded-Wire-308312EB/205960859

Zip ties:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Cambridge-14-in-Heavy-Duty-Cable-Ties-Black-100-Pack-CT12804/303059760

Fence Posts:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/YARDGARD-2-in-x-2-in-x-4-ft-Galvanized-Steel-Electric-Fence-Post-901183A/202025622

 

Nayfield Preserve – Welcoming spring!

Nayfield Preserve is located on Lambertville Hopewell Rd in Hopewell.

Link to trail map.IMG_3257I was recently contacted by a researcher interested in studying Viburnum species and their pollinators and I jumped at the chance to show him around Nayfield. This preserve can be tricky to find, but once you arrive, it is such a wonderful place to walk. The big open field, the drier upland area, the wet lowland area, vernal pools and evergreen forest…I mean, what is there not to love? When I hike with others, I always learn something new.  Today was no exception!

For a while now, I have  puzzled over a certain shrub which, in some ways, resembles a Cherry tree (Prunus). Cherry trees have alternate branching patterns but this shrub had branches that were opposite each other. Although I know that there are only a handful of trees which have branches directly opposite each other, nothing in my mental plant catalog could help me identify what I was seeing.

Today, I learned that what I was seeing was none other than a very large Blackhaw Viburnums (Viburnum prunifolium )! I know this shrub well, but I mistakenly thought they didn’t grow larger than 10 feet tall. Today, I learned that Blackhaw can grow to almost 40 feet tall! How boring would life be if we already knew it all?IMG_3247Multiflora Rose, Rosa multiflora, leafing out. This invasive bramble is the first woody plant that I have seen with leaves this year.IMG_3253Blackhaw Viburnum flower buds about to open! Doesn’t it look like a little broccoli head hiding within the bud scales? IMG_3263Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, another invasive plant which always seems to be springing ahead of the pack! Garlic mustard is considered an edible. I have heard that people sometimes use it as a substitute for garlic when making pesto. I have a bunch of it in my yard, so I think I might need to try this recipe later this spring!IMG_3269Fox scat with what looks like a little femur, tibia and fibula in it. Perhaps remnants of rodent dinner.IMG_3278This tree caught my eye as I entered the field. The silvery buds were glowing in the morning sun!  My guess is that it is some sort of Pussy Willow, Salix spp.IMG_3274The buds were so soft under my fingers that it felt as if I was petting a rabbit! If anyone has a guess as to what species this is, please let me know!IMG_3283Another “New-To-Me” species! This is called Seedbox, Ludwigia alternifolia! How fabulous are these seed capsules? When Seedbox is in bloom it has beautiful yellow flowers and that would be a gorgeous native plant to add to any garden!IMG_3307I think everyone needs another view of these seed capsules! I can’t help but smile when I see them 🙂

St. Michaels Preserve – Anniversary of Sourland Niche!

St. Michaels Preserve is located in Hopewell, NJ with entrances on Hopewell Princeton Rd and Aunt Molly Rd.

Link to tail map.

IMG_2986My first blog hike was posted one year ago on March 17, 2018.

This year has flown by so quickly!  When I noticed the Red Maples’, Acer rubrum, buds swelling and turning red, I remembered seeing them a year ago when I began writing about my hikes in Sourlands.

Throughout this past year, I have enjoyed 40 hikes at 22 of the 24 Sourland Preserves.  When I reflect on my experiences in the woods, I realize that as I surrendered to the beauty of the forest, it provided me an opportunity to think deeply about whatever was on my mind. I encountered many new plants and I learned more about myself.

This year, I would love to share in this blog other people’s experiences and photos from their hikes around the Sourlands and also to highlight some of the incredible projects that the Sourland Conservancy is working on.

There are many interesting projects going on here including: Amphibian Crossing Guards, Roots to Rivers Riparian Restoration, Baldpate Restoration, Sourland Stewardship Leaders, the Sourland STREAM Program, and The Foraging Forest!

IMG_2972Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, is the first flower I have seen this year! Hairy Bittercress is an invasive belonging to the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family. There are many edibles that are Brassicas including kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and collard greens!

IMG_3006Spring beauty, Claytonia virginiaca, about to bloom. On my way out of the woods, I found a little one snuggled near a few downed logs which protected it from wind but still allowed full sun. This created a microclimate which encouraged this little spring beauty to start putting on its flower buds. Over the next few weeks, the forest will be waking up! I have already heard Spring Peepers, Pseudacris crucifer, sing their Sweet Spring Song!