New Jersey Conservation Foundation
 
New Jersey Conservation Foundation Menu
NJCF Homepage Contact Us Donate Events Search NJCF
New Jersey Land Conservation Organization
Donate to New Jersey Conservation Foundation
State We're In New Jersey Conservation Foundation Blog
The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends
5/3/2018 Volume XLVIII, No. 18

Along New Jersey State Highway 72 in New Lisbon, just around the bend from Brendan Byrne State Forest, is a publicly-accessible forest fire observation tower. The view is stunning: one can see the vast expanse of our Pine Barrens, a sea of green extending in every direction.

At first glance, the forests may all look alike. But look more closely and you'll begin to see a rich diversity of trees and plants, surprising for a place called barren.

Maintaining diverse forests and habitats within the Pine Barrens is the focus of restoration programs conducted by the New Jersey Forest Service and its partners.

The Pine Barrens landscape is dominated by globally rare forests known as pitch pine/scrub oak upland, along with lowland pitch pine, cedar swamps, and maple-gum swamps. Pitch pine forests - even the wet, swampy ones - need frequent fires to maintain rare or unique species of reptiles, amphibians, birds and wildflowers.

And there’s a lot more to this sea of green. Look for meandering ribbons of deep green Atlantic white cedar along streams. The Shinn’s Branch Cedar Swamp Natural Area is close by.  Eighty percent of New Jersey’s Atlantic white cedar forests were lost due to over-harvesting and over-abundant deer; the recovery of these magnificent forests is a continuing priority of the NJ Forest Service.

Farther southeast from the New Lisbon fire tower are the famous pygmy pines, also known as the pine plains, the most wildfire-adapted plant community in the world!  These short-stature pines and oaks have survived centuries of wildfires, and prairie warblers and brown thrashers are two of the area’s most abundant birds. The NJ Forest Service is working with the U.S. Forest Service and other partners to restore pitch pine forests through ecological burning.

From the fire tower, you’ll see soft, light green patches of tall oak trees interrupting the darker green carpet, especially westward toward Magnolia Road. These tall oaks often grow in slightly richer soils. The extra soil moisture, along with natural firebreaks provided by wide swamps, protect these oak forests from the frequent and severe wildfires found in nearby pitch pine/shrub oak barrens.

You would need to take a walk through these oak forests to experience their diversity!  Southern red oak, chestnut oak, white oak, black oak, scarlet oak, post oak - plus shortleaf, pitch, and Virginia pines to start. And they host different birds than other parts of the Pine Barrens: species that like to glean insects amongst tall deciduous canopies. Yellow-billed cuckoos, great-crested flycatchers, summer and scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, and many woodpeckers - including the state endangered red-headed woodpecker - utilize these oak woods, especially in places where the lower layers of forest aren’t crowded with too many young pines.

Tall oak forests in the Pine Barrens face many challenges. In recent decades, gypsy moth outbreaks have killed many, and browsing deer have prevented the trees from replacing themselves with new seedlings.

The New Jersey Forest Service is currently restoring a 64-acre tree oak–shortleaf pine forest along Magnolia Road in Brendan Byrne State Forest. Until now, the oaks and shortleaf pine trees in this little island of diversity had not been regenerating. The forestry management project will ensure that the oaks and shortleaf pines regenerate so this unique habitat type is not swallowed up by the surrounding pitch pine forest.

The Magnolia Road forest has been thinned, especially of excess pitch pine trees, with many large oaks and shortleaf pines left in scattered locations to provide acorns and seeds. The thick layer of huckleberry and low-bush blueberry bushes have been mowed to make way for germinating acorns and seeds, producing a pleasant, park-like appearance. A possible prescribed burn will help encourage even more seed germination in the sandy soil.

Light soil disturbance is not risky in the Pine Barrens. Unlike forests in other parts of this state we’re in, Pine Barrens forests have virtually no alien invasive species to outcompete native wildflowers like bird’s-foot violet and trailing arbutus.

In the old woodcutting days, oak forests were over harvested with no thought for the future. Roots re-sprouted but no habitat was created for vibrant seedlings. Today, the NJ Forest Service uses complex growth models to predict the rates at which the new generation of oaks and pines will grow between their healthy parents.

The NJ Forest Service designed the Magnolia Road project so the future forest will have trees of all species and ages. Hopefully, a deer fence won’t be needed to allow seedling oaks to grow tall. Should fences be needed, the NJ Forest Service has plenty of experience erecting deer fences to protect young Atlantic white cedar forests. Close monitoring of the forest re-growth will determine the next steps to ensure that this patch of diverse tall oaks and mixed species of pines will not only rebound, but thrive.

Check out the Magnolia Road restoration site next time you visit the Pine Barrens. In May and June, you will almost assuredly find bright red male summer tanagers flitting in the tops of the tall oaks. The females are a leafy yellowish green color and hard to spot, but both sexes often utter a two or three syllabled “hic-up” or “hic-cic-up” call. If you are really lucky, you’ll catch a flash of a brilliant red-headed woodpecker!

Kudos to the NJ Forest Service for its many restoration projects in the Pine Barrens, including a nearby Red-headed woodpecker habitat restoration in Brendan Byrne State Forest. To learn more about the state’s restorations projects in the Pine Barrens, go to http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/njfs_state_lands_mgt.html.

And for information about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

 

POSTS

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

ARCHIVE

July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS


New Jersey Conservation Foundation on FacebookNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on TwitterNew Jersey Conservation Foundation on FlickrNew Jersey Conservation Foundation YouTube ChannelShare      
New Jersey Conservation Foundation           Bamboo Brook, 170 Longview Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931           908-234-1225           info@njconservation.org
home  | nj statewide eventscontact us  |  sitemap  |  privacy policy  |  DONATE