Results and Accomplishments
The Morris County Municipal Authority (MUA) initiated this program by clearing three acres of Russian olive shrub. The MUA received a combined total of $10,235 to advance this effort through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program administered by USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program administered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS). The MUA is providing "in kind" services as their part of this 10-year agreement by monitoring the ongoing work.
Working with NRCS, the MUA planted approximately three acres in native grasses and wildflowers. Another 60 acres will now be scheduled for mowing every two years instead of several times a year, which will allow the native grasses, including little blue stem, Indian grass, and switch grass, to become established. Native grasses are important to ecological systems that support birds like the bobolink, barred owl, savannah sparrow, vespers sparrow, and the grasshopper sparrow. They also provide excellent habitat for the meadow jumping mouse and for butterflies such as skipper arogos and the orange sulphur.
Improving conditions at the Alamatong wellfield will also impact the Black River located downhill from the grass meadows that are being managed through this project. Native plants are better at eliminating contaminants from surface water than European or invasive grasses. As a primary water source for Morris County which has a population of more than 470 thousand, sustaining water quality here is of vital importance.