Last week I took a solo scouting/collection trip to North-western New Jersey. I was scouting for Sambucus canadensis var. nigra, as well as some other species that were requested for a restoration project on the Musconetcong river. There have been a series of dam removals along this tributary of the Delaware river in the past few years, and the project coordinators are looking for genetically appropriate wetland species from ecoregions 67 and 58 to restore the river banks and floodplains
Ecoregions 67 and 58 are in the Appalachian highland region of New Jersey, not far from the Delaware Water gap. It is so much different from the pitch pine lowland habitats of South Jersey that I’m used to. So, it was very exciting for me to explore the cliffs and caves hidden under Hornbeam canopies..
I found Sambucus at multiple sites, but unfortunately not in great enough numbers to warrant collecting. I did find other restoration species like Cornus amomum (Silky dogwood), Apios americana (American ground-nut), and Viburnum acerifolium (Maple-leaf viburnum). As well as species I have never encountered before like, Celtis occidentalis (American Hackberry), Vaccinium staminum (Tall deer berry), and Corylus cornuta (Beaked hazelnut).
Here are some photos of my favorite discoveries from this trip.
Archaeological evidence suggest this was ceremonial cave for Lenape. The Fairy Hole looks out at Ghost Lake, inside Jenny Jump State Forest.
These filberts dominated the forest under story along with the Tall Deer Berry. TASTY.
All in all, this was a successful trip. I made two small collections of Carex species, and found several other potential collections for later on in the season. I’m so excited to be helping to restore habitats damaged by water impoundments. The net positive ecological impacts of dam removal is a great motivator for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank to find these species and collect them.
Here is a link to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service blog where there is a video of a dam removal that occurred December 2016.
The page contains a lot of links to other info on the past, present, and future dam removal projects along the Musconetcong river in New Jersey. CHECK IT OUT.