Preserving and Restoring Wetlands to Recover Bog Turtles in NJ

Project Purpose: To preserve bog turtle wetland habitat by promoting Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) easements and to restore bog turtle habitat on private and publically-owned land using the USFWS Biological Opinion.  In the past 10 years, restoration activities on public land have been extremely limited due to absence of funding; this lack of restoration is leading to loss of suitable habitat and decreased nesting at these sites. By working with the USFWS Partners Program, we propose restoration of five high-priority bog turtle sites on Township and Borough-owned lands in Sussex County, NJ.   

Brief Description: In the past 20 years, bog turtles have declined by at least 50 percent across their range; even in New Jersey – a stronghold for the species – bog turtles have disappeared from more than half of their historically occupied sites.  Bog turtles are habitat specialists requiring open, groundwater-fed wetlands. 

These ephemeral habitats can quickly be come unsuitable as succession and invasive species shade-out forbs, alter hydrology, and create monocultures.  Since 2011, through an agreement with USFWS and in partnership with NJDEP, CWF has been working to identify potential nesting sites, engage private landowners with historic bog turtle sites, evaluate habitat quality, and restore habitat.  In 2012 CWF received a NFWF Conservation Partners Grant to continue this work.   

 

Resource Values/Project Outputs:  By restoring early successional wetland habitat, this project will address a multitude of resource concerns in NJ.  Among them are habitat availability, quality, and connectivity for an imperiled species and globally rare community (limestone fens).  This project will reduce invasive plant cover, promote native species recolonization, and maintain important habitat for a variety of non-target species including pollinators, scrub-shrub and grassland birds, and reptiles and amphibians. 

 

As of January 2014, in partnership with USFWS Partners Program, we have restored almost 15 priority bog turtle sites to suitable habitat conditions.  Funding requested from NJ CWRP will allow us to restore 5 publically-owned sites that are in critical need of restoration. 

 

Cost/Budget: Restoration costs:  $17,105 (Total Project Budget: $96,000) 

 

 

Funding requested from NJ CWRP will be part of the matching component for the NFWF Conservation Partners Grant. 

 

 

Schedule: January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015 

 

Permit Status: Restoration activities will be performed under the USFWS Partners Program; NJDEP will follow internal review procedures for approval of restoration activities.  

 

List of Partners: US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife  

 

What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution:  $17,105 

 

Point of Contact: Karena DiLeo, 609.292.1244, karena.dileo@conservewildlifenj.org

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