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Salem Bog Turtle Habitat Enhancement Site - Phases 1-3

Project Purpose: The bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is a federally threatened, state endangered species. The project will improve freshwater wetlands and associated uplands to enhance habitat for a bog turtle population in Salem County, NJ. The project will enhance habitat for other native wildlife, including migrating American woodcock, grassland birds, and pollinators. This project will also improve water and soil quality as well as wildlife-related economic and recreational benefits.

Brief Description: The bog turtle habitat enhancement area includes 55 acres of a tract owned by the state. Surveys conducted by NJ Audubon from 2013-2019 confirmed the presence of a population last observed in 2001. Survey efforts by NJA have resulted in 6 new bog turtles, bringing the total to 10 marked individuals. The site consists of two wetlands separated by a field. The northern wetland is a deciduous scrub-shrub and forested wetland with open areas colonized by dense stands of Phragmites australis and Rosa multiflora. The southern wetland is a mosaic of former agricultural and mixed scrub-shrub wetlands. 

The project has been implemented in phases beginning in April 2014. Phase 1 was completed in fall of 2016 and included a) visual bog turtle surveys; b) removal of invasive non-native plant species from the wetlands; c) expansion of emergent wetlands habitat by select removal of encroaching woody vegetation; d) radio telemetry to determine bog turtle distribution and core habitat; e) follow-up treatment of invasive species removal. Phase 2 was completed in spring of 2019 and included a) the conversion of 35 acres of agricultural fields to native cover; b) 3 acres of Phragmites australis controlled; c) continued visual surveys and trapping surveys; d) hydrology monitoring.

Funding under this request is limited to Phase 3 of the project, which includes: a) use of a new monitoring technique developed by Cellular Tracking Technologies in addition to visual and trapping surveys; b) working with USFWS to restore hydrology with continued monitoring by Stockton University; c) select tree thinning; d) native shrub planting to reduce erosion and to provide wildlife habitat; e) continued removal of non-native invasive plants; f) improved nesting and foraging habitat in emerging wetlands by installing native herbaceous plants. 

Resource Values/Project Outputs: Increase bog turtle population by expanding habitat and connectivity; assess bog turtle habitat use to inform management; restore hydrology to increase habitat and improve water quality; remove invasive species and increase solar exposure in wetlands; increase nesting and forage habitat to benefit turtles and native pollinator species.

Schedule: Phase 1 completed 2016. Phase 2 completed 2019. Phase 3 began January 2020. 

Permit Status: Scientific Collecting Permit, Aquatic Pesticide Permit, and GP-16 Wetland Restoration Permit in hand. USFWS submitted new GP-16 Permit, anticipated in February 2020.

List of Partners: USFWS Delaware Bay Program, William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NJDEP ENSP, Stockton University, NJDEP Water Quality Restoration Program

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


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