Sunday, July 22, 2007

Clean-up at the Great Swamp & a Challenge

Yesterday, I assisted the Friends of the Great Swamp with a clean-up event at this phenomenal National Wildlife Refuge. The Great Swamp, located in Morris County, NJ, is where I "cut my teeth" as a birder. I birded here many times as a kid with my family on our "hawk finding" trips where I remember seeing Kestrels, Red-tails, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Red-headed Woodpeckers. This was also the first place I came after graduating college when I picked up a pair of old binoculars and said to myself, "I'm going to go look at birds."

This was my first time participating in this type of clean-up. We were tasked with pruning some trees that were blocking the view from a lookout and also removing invasive species in several areas. There was a great turnout of about 15 people and I was impressed with the organization and dedication of the "Friends" group.

I picked up my pair of loppers and began cutting and chopping all of the invasive plants I could find in my area. It was mostly Multiflora Rose, Russian Olive, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Japanese Barberry. I got plenty of thorns in my hands and a good forearm workout from using the loppers. We cleaned out our area pretty well and it looked great. My complaint is that many of these plants are going to grow back. Simply cutting back plants like Multiflora Rose and Russian Olive is useless. They must be burned or an herbicide needs to be applied to get rid of them. It sounds like some of the refuge's interns are planning to come back this week and do just that.

I challenge each of you to join a local wildlife area cleanup. You'll meet some nice, like-minded people and help out a good cause.

4 comments:

Mike said...

Maybe now that you've spruced the place up, the swamp can live up to its reputation for greatness...

Patrick Belardo said...

It's definitely a hit-or-miss kind of place. It's decent for Red-headed Woodpeckers every few years when they show up and for marsh birds from the former heron rookery. It also has a ton of breeding birds, but they are deeper within the refuge, not in the easily accessible areas.

John said...

I didn't realize the Great Swamp was so infested.

Patrick Belardo said...

There aren't many places in NJ that aren't! But seriously, I think it's mostly the disturbed areas along the wildlife drive and roads that attract the most invasives. The more off-the-beaten-path spots don't have as much in my experience.