Create Wildlife Habitat
Purpose Ensure healthy and sustainable communities for wildlife and people by protecting, restoring, and connecting wildlife habitats. Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Connecting habitats is critical to sustaining healthy wildlife populations. Administered by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program within the NJDEP’s […]
Step 7: Create Wildlife Habitat
Ensure healthy and sustainable communities for wildlife and people by protecting, restoring, and connecting wildlife habitats.
Why It’s Important
New Jersey is home to more than 3,700 wildlife species. Development in our state, the most densely populated in the nation, has resulted in the loss of thousands of acres of forests, wetlands, and other important wildlife habitat. Remaining areas of habitat are often fragmented by roads, buildings, utilities, and other barriers. Many once-common animals and plants have declined in numbers due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and certain species are now threatened or endangered in New Jersey.
Animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Connecting habitats is critical to sustaining healthy wildlife populations. Administered by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program within the NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) offers resources and tools to help secure and restore habitat connectivity across the state. The CHANJ Mapping tool highlights New Jersey’s remaining intact habitats, called “Cores,” and the best opportunities to link them, called “Corridors.” A companion Guidance Document can help users make strategic choices about preserving land, restoring habitat, and mitigating the impacts of roads on wildlife.
Protecting and restoring wildlife habitat not only benefits plant and animal communities but also the human communities of our watershed. Forests, riparian buffers, freshwater and tidal wetlands, and other natural habitats capture stormwater, reduce flooding, prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, sequester carbon, moderate climate, and support wildlife. From the Pine Barrens to coastal salt marshes and the bay itself, the Barnegat Bay watershed’s unique habitats also offer many recreational opportunities that support a regional tourism-based economy. These benefits, called ecosystem services, improve quality of life for residents.
NOTE: By combining this Action with 6A (see Step 6: Reduce Lawn Size) , you have an opportunity to complete two Standard Actions at the same time. Standard 7A can be satisfied jointly with Standard 6A, i.e. wildlife habitat can be created on the same areas where lawn is replaced with native plants.
7A: Identify a potential wildlife habitat restoration site on municipal property and develop a list of appropriate NJ native plants.
When identifying a potential wildlife habitat restoration site, prioritize any location that would connect existing wildlife habitat areas or would create a natural buffer along a steam, river, or other body of water. Show the location you have identified on a base map.
Use the JFY Plant Database and other sources to search for New Jersey native plant species that support wildlife and are suited to the soil, light, and other growing conditions at the potential site. Planting the right plant in the right place is critical for the success of any planting project. Before making any plant choices, get a soil test and collect as much information as possible about site conditions, including the following:
- Number of hours of direct sunlight during the growing season,
- Soil conditions (soil type, pH, and moisture level),
- Direction of water flow during a rain storm,
- Location of any wet areas or drainage problems,
- Availability of water sources for irrigation,
- Presence of any invasive species,
- Potential for wildlife damage (e.g., from deer or geese), and
- Potential for exposure to salt water or salt spray.
In addition to collecting information about site conditions, consider any other factors important to your selection of plants, such as plant type or wildlife value.
What to submit for Action 7A: Base map showing the location and approximate dimensions of the potential habitat restoration site and any connections to existing wildlife habitat. Summary of the growing conditions at the site, including soil test results. List of the search filter selections entered into the JFY Plant Database (including “Yes” for “Native Plants Only”); list of NJ native plants, including scientific names, generated through your search on the JFY Plant Database; and any other resources used to research appropriate NJ native plant species for supporting wildlife at the site.
7B: Develop a plan for the control of invasive plant species on a municipal property.
A species is considered invasive when it is non-native to an area and causes harm to the environment, economy, or human health. Certain non-native species commonly planted in our watershed have become invasive, spreading beyond yards into natural areas and replacing the native plants there. New Jersey’s plants and animals evolved together and depend on each other for survival. When invasive plants replace the natives, the entire ecosystem can be disrupted.
Develop a plan for removing and/or controlling the invasive plant species on a municipal property. The plan should identify the invasive species growing there by scientific name, show approximate locations on a base map, list the best method(s) for removal or control, and provide information about long-term monitoring and maintenance. The NJ Invasive Species Strike Team website has extensive resources, including fact sheets, about identification of invasive plant species and recommendations for eradicating them.
What to submit for Action 7B: Invasive species control plan for a municipal property.
- Jersey-Friendly Yards: Step 7
- NJ Wildlife Action Plan
- Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ
- Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ)
- National Wildlife Federation
- NJ Invasive Species Strike Team
Ready to Submit Step 7?
Upload the Required Documentation to Your Custom Link.
When you enrolled, you received a custom link from us for your action item uploads.