Beginning in 2009, the Division of Fish and Wildlife partnered with New Jersey Audubon Society to create and implement a Forest Stewardship Plan at Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area (Sparta Mountain WMA). From 2010-2016 we performed forest management on 61.3 acres, which accounts for less than 2% of the total property. Surveys at the managed areas show an increase of bird species and numbers and excellent plant regeneration that has been minimally impacted by deer and invasive plants.
As we continue to carry out our management work in the property’s 3,461 acres, we will leave 82% of the forest as it is and manage 18%. On 9%, we will retain most of the trees and create characteristics similar to old-growth forests. Of the remaining 9%, we will manage 3% to retain about half the trees in order to increase vegetation growth under the canopy and 6%, for young and open forest habitats, where few trees will be retained. This management combination provides more diverse habitats for a greater variety of wildlife species.
Old-Growth Is Great, But Here's Why We Need New-Growth Forests, Too (Living Bird magazine, Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
In the winter of 2012-2013, we performed a Seed Tree Harvest with Wildlife Reserves on this 13.5 acre forest stand.
This forest management reduced most of the overstory trees to create a young forest. This photo was taken in the summer of 2016.
Recorded on June 13, 2016 at 4:42 a.m., four years after the management activities on this 13.5 acre parcel
In New Jersey, we have a significant diversity of wildlife. But some species are in decline due to fewer habitats to nest, forage, and raise their young, specifically, in young forests. This plan takes into consideration these threatened and endangered species and creates more habitat that will allow these species to thrive.
The majority of woods at Sparta Mountain WMA are mature or middle aged. These woods are quite valuable to many species, but so are old growth and young forests too. We seek to maintain the mature forests, foster old growth forests, and create new young forests.
We realize that our efforts will initially impact the environment. As biologists and foresters, we want to make sure the impact is minimal and that the ecosystem is not only restored quickly, but also has greater value than it did before the management. We take into consideration rare plants, wetlands best management practices, the spread of invasive species, and an abundance of deer which may impact regeneration.
All forest management projects on DEP lands are reviewed by experts in many fields. Rare plants experts, biologists, and foresters all review and add recommendations that will provide the least amount of impact for the entire ecosystem.