Habitat maintenance visit

This week we had a quick visit from John Parke of New Jersey Audubon to see how things are progressing after this year’s prescribed burning.

Per the New Jersey Forest Fire Service:

The primary purpose of prescribed burning in New Jersey is to reduce the hazardous accumulations of forest fuels. This aids in the prevention of wildfires, reduces the intensity of the fires, and also provides a foundation for safer, more effective fire suppression and protection operations.

“On the one hand fire is bad news, but ecologically it’s a big deal,” John says. “When you think about the history of the pinelands, fire was the system: lightning strikes, et cetera. What’s interesting now is we’re actually doing it in a controlled way. Cranberry growers do this for good water management, but the bonus is that the practice is not only reducing fuel loads for wildfire, but it also makes for a good habitat. The diversity on this site for both animals and plants is amazing, and it’s thanks to good maintenance being done the right way. I’ve seen stuff here that I’ve only seen in books.” On this particular day, John was interested in the location that was the primary quail translocation site, and thought things were looking great, with a good combination of both grasses and tree cover for many varieties of wildlife.

And, of course, no visit from John is complete without stopping to take a closer look at some wildlife! He has a good eye for seeing things while we’re on the move, and yesterday was no exception. This little guy was quickly moved to safety after saying hello!

“Restoration is continual,” John says. “People often forget that you have to maintain an ecosystem, and think in the ‘long term’, and sometimes perform activities that may seem counterproductive in order to have the natural systems function properly for future generations. In a state like New Jersey that has significant pressures placed on an already limited land base it is important to realize that ‘restoration’ is not just a one or two time action, it is a series of science-based actions over a sustained period of time.”

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