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Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance

Host Agency Info:

Name: Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance

Address: 3037 Route 29, Frenchtown, NJ 08825

Phone: (908) 996-4421

Supervisor Name:

Margaret Waldock, Executive Director

Joyce Koch, Stewardship Coordinator

E-mail of supervisor: info@hlta.org

Nature of Host Agency: Non-profit

Project Description: The Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance has recently acquired a 70ac. property in Delaware Township named The Lockatong Preserve. The Lockatong Preserve is mostly wooded with steep slopes but also includes a former farm field that will be managed to become meadow habitat. The Lockatong Creek runs through a portion of the property. The Land Trust is building a .5 mile trail on this property which will extend from a parking area on Raven Rock Road to the Westcott Preserve, a Hunterdon County Park. A preliminary plant survey has identified a variety of high quality native plants. The property, however, also includes the predictable variety of non-native invasive plants.

The project involves developing and implementing a management strategy for the property to inventory the native plant species and remove invasive plants. An Environmental Intern would work closely with the Stewardship Committee of the HLTA and would have the support and guidance of the members as well as volunteer consultant experts.

Invasives Control: A variety of methods, including manual and the use of herbicides, should be utilized, with the help of Land Trust volunteers, to remove noxious plants. A Steward Intern will evaluate invasive plant control methods for suitability for the site and initiate a program for invasives removal. For the field area, mowing services are available and a mowing schedule needs to be developed to best manage for maintaining habitat for nesting birds and invasives control. Also, burning of the field may be explored as a management method. Thicket and forest will require the training and organization of volunteers for invasives removal. Priority consideration in the choice of removal methods is protection of the indigenous native plants. At the conclusion of the project, the Steward Intern will make recommendations for further management techniques and maintenance schedule. Land Trust personnel can provide tools, initial training and supervision/support.

Plant Survey: Using the tool of Plant Stewardship Index, a plant biologist specializing in native plants will perform an inventory of the site. Prime plant locations should be identified for special protection, perhaps with deer fencing. The Steward Intern will assist the biologist with note taking and report writing.

The project will result in the improved quality of the property for the enjoyment and education of trail walkers as the trail will be open to the public. Also, this is the first phase of efforts to improve bird and animal habitat. The property is part of a larger greenway under development in Delaware Township with plans to extend the initial trail for several miles. Ultimately the area could serve as a native plant preservation and study area.

Nature of anticipated impact: Social, Environmental

Evaluation Plan:

The amount of invasive plant removal can be observed and measured. The HLTA and Intern can agree on the number of volunteer work days appropriate for the project and availability of volunteers. The Intern will submit a written report on the results of the Plant Survey and a management plan for the property.

Learning Objectives in plan (If any):

The Intern will learn to recognize and control invasive plant species in a natural setting. The Intern will be responsible for training, scheduling and managing volunteers. While working with a field biologist, the Intern will learn native plant identification and evaluation of a natural forest and meadow landscape. The Plant Stewardship Index is in its infancy in the field of property evaluation and management. This project presents a unique opportunity to work with an experienced field botanist learning to use an easy and practical tool for stewardship and monitoring land management practices over time. This will be one of the first times this has been done in New Jersey as the index has only been developed in the last few months.

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