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Rare plants and animals need help!
7/20/2017 Volume XLVII, No. 29

A red-shouldered hawk soars above ridges and valleys. A showy lady’s slipper orchid blooms deep in the forest. A bog turtle suns itself on a log. A bobcat hunts at twilight. Pine Barrens tree frogs croak throughout the woods on a warm night. An osprey swoops into the sea and emerges with a fish.

These nature sights and sounds in this state we’re in are as diverse as they are beautiful.  

Thanks to a temperate climate and varied geography – everything from ocean beaches to rugged mountains - this small, densely-developed state has more plant and animal species than plenty of states many times larger.

New Jersey spans both northern and southern landscapes, so numerous species reach the limits of their northernmost or southernmost ranges here. And New Jersey serves as one of the world’s most important pathways for migrating birds.

New Jersey’s thousands of species include 415 mammals, breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish; 500 migratory birds, marine mammals and saltwater fish; and tens of thousands of invertebrates. More than 2,100 native plants grow here, including several species found nowhere else in the world.

During spring and fall migrations, 1.5 million shorebirds and as many as 80,000 raptors stop overs in New Jersey.

But today, many of these native plants and animals face serious threats, including habitat loss, competition from invasive species, land disturbance, contamination and climate change.

Eighty-six New Jersey animals are listed by the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program as endangered or threatened. Endangered species are those whose prospects for survival in New Jersey are in immediate jeopardy, while threatened species are those that could become endangered if conditions further deteriorate.

A total 818 plants are considered either endangered or “species of concern.” The species of concern designation means these plants are monitored to keep an eye on possible status changes.

Red-shouldered hawks, showy lady’s slipper orchids, bog turtles, bobcats, Pine Barrens tree frogs and ospreys are all among those species in peril.

But there’s also hope! Preserving natural lands – especially large, intact properties - is a major key to protecting New Jersey’s biodiversity.

New Jersey has five national wildlife refuges, more than 170 state-owned wildlife management areas, state parks and state forests, and hundreds of tracts of forests and meadows owned by counties, municipalities and nonprofit land conservation organizations. Natural areas extend from High Point State Park in Sussex County to the tip of the Cape May peninsula.

New natural areas are continually created. In 2014, New Jersey voters approved a ballot question for a permanent, sustainable source of land preservation funding through the use of Corporate Business Tax revenues. Funds are now flowing to the state’s Green Acres Program for many new open space projects.

In addition to preserving more land and habitat, here’s a checklist for protecting New Jersey’s rich diversity of plants and animals:

  • Increased stewardship of natural lands, including restoring and enhancing connectivity between the large preserves;
  • Increased resources for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Natural Heritage program to support identification, research and protection of rare plants and animals;
  • Increased funding for the state’s Endangered and Non-Game Species program;
  • A revitalized and expanded state Natural Areas Program and Council;
  • Landscape-scale planning for public lands that consider a wide range of natural resource values; and increased coordination among state agencies;
  • Increased enforcement to prevent illegal off-road vehicles from damaging public lands.

To see a list of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened animal species, go to For a list of rare plants, go to And for a comprehensive field guide to New Jersey’s rare animals, go to To learn more about the state’s Natural Areas System, go to

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

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


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