Swamp Pink Fencing Protection Project

Project Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to install deer exclusion fencing at two sites to protect the federally threatened plant, Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata), within sensitive wetland habitat. The wetlands are being impacted by deer overpopulation and herbivory. Fencing has been shown to eliminate or greatly reduce herbivory on Swamp Pink, resulting in increased flower production and overall plant vigor in following years.

Brief Description:

Two sites, public land in Camden County and state-owned land in Cumberland County, were considered robust strongholds for Swamp Pink during initial surveys in the 1970s. Both populations have experienced over a 70% decline since monitoring began, primarily due to deer herbivory. Without action, both populations are estimated to become extirpated within the next decade. At both sites, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted monitoring, surveys, and fencing plans. In Camden County, USFWS will oversee fencing construction done by a contractor. NJA will conduct annual monitoring to measure Swamp Pink response. USFWS and NJA are working with Camden County College’s Biology Department Chair to develop student research projects to monitor changes in the population following fencing construction. There are also plans for students from the school’s Art Department to paint a Swamp Pink mural on campus. In Cumberland County, the NJDEP has approved fence construction through a special use permit. The fence site has been surveyed and mapped by USFWS and will be constructed by NJA. Annual monitoring will measure Swamp Pink response.

Resource Values/Project Outputs:

The project will eliminate intensive deer herbivory on two sensitive wetland habitats totaling 17 acres, and prevent local extinction of the federally threatened plant, Swamp Pink. In Camden County, students will receive first-hand research and monitoring experience as well as the opportunity to work alongside and learn from USFWS and NJA. The mural will be seen by over 11,000 students and faculty of the college and raise awareness on the threatened species.

Cost/Budget: $73,106.00

Schedule:

Population monitoring began in May 2020. Fence construction at both sites and swamp pink mural to be completed by fall 2021. Involvement with biology students at Camden County College in 2022. Ongoing monitoring to continue at both sites.

Permit Status:

No permit needed for Camden County site. Special use permit for Cumberland County site acquired.

List of Partners:

New Jersey Audubon (NJA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Camden County College, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)

What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution: $14,106.00

Point of Contact: Kristen Meistrell, Stewardship Project Director, NJ Audubon; (609) 400-3843 Email