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Conservation Success in New Jersey in FY 2010

Conservation Success in New Jersey in FY 2010

Woodland Plantation, LLC

Woodland Plantation is a privately owned hunting preserve located in Woodland Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. This 1100-acre property lies within the heart of the Pinelands National Reserve, which was created by Congress in 1978 as the first National Reserve in the country and later designated as an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. The Pinelands National Reserve is 1.1 million acres in size and is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. This ecologically important region is home to diverse habitats ranging from dense forests of pine and oak, hardwood swamps, to bogs and marshes. The unique flora of the Pine Barrens is largely fire dependent. Decades of fire suppression has altered the composition of the forests.

Similar to the Pine Barrens in general, Woodland Plantation suffered from a historic lack of forestry management. The landowners of Woodland Plantation requested assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) to develop a restoration plan for their property. Along with their Forest Stewardship Plan, developed by a private forester, NRCS developed a Conservation Plan that included practices such as Forest Stand Improvement, Upland Wildlife Habitat Management, and Prescribed Burning. After two years of implementation, the result is several hundred acres of “Disturbance Dependent Habitat,” which consists of woodlands of varying tree densities as well as pockets of grassland savannahs. Habitat has been created that will benefit a diversity of wildlife species, such as red-headed woodpecker, northern pine snake, blue grosbeak, yellow-throated vireo, and bobwhite quail.

Partners have joined NRCS in the restoration efforts at Woodland Plantation. The New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS) received a grant from Atlantic City Electric for additional warm season grass seeding at the site. Recently, the Cape May Plant Materials Center (PMC) visited the site to experiment with new seed harvesting equipment. Seed collected will be cleaned and returned to the property for seeding next spring.

Protecting Farmland in the Garden State

With 26% of New Jersey’s 733,450 acres of farmland permanently preserved, the most densely populated state in the Union leads the Nation in percentage and ranks fourth in acres of farmland preserved. Through the Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP), contributing over $48 million in support of the preservation of 16,766 acres since 1996, NRCS has partnered with State and non-profit organizations toward achieving the State’s goal of preserving up to 600,000 acres of New Jersey’s farmland.

This partnership recently supported the protection of 150 acres in Somerset County owned by a female farmer, an early adopter of no-till farming. The protection of this farmland means that:

  • Locally-grown food is available to 25% of the Nation’s population who reside within 300 miles of the farm.
  • Productive prime farmland soils are available for agricultural production in perpetuity.
  • Seasonal habitat is available for grasshopper sparrows, savannah sparrows and bobolinks, three songbirds listed by the State as threatened or endangered, and for Northern harriers, a species of concern in New Jersey.
  • Water supplied from the watershed for 2.5 million people is protected from run-off from the farm. A conservation plan, a requirement for participants in New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program, is being implemented to protect all the natural resources related to the farm.

NRCS assistance with protection of farmland throughout New Jersey also provides:

  • Enhanced partnerships with local entities to leverage federal funds.
  • Reduction of energy used on-farm to manage processes like irrigation, heating and cooling through implementation of conservation plans.
  • A buffer of compatible land uses around our four military bases.