This fall, volunteers from the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Coastal Gardeners Club planted trees to improve wildlife habitat at the James Farm Ecological Preserve.
Between 1992 and 2012, the Inland Bays watershed lost 14 square miles of forests. This vital habitat for wildlife has been largely replaced with developments, a change that also adds to roads and rooftops that contribute to stormwater runoff. This loss of forests also affects populations of wildlife that rely on them for nesting, feeding and breeding, including amphibians, turtles, wild turkeys, and native songbirds.
“This project is particularly important for species that rely on lush, interior forest habitat [unfragmented forest area surrounded by more forest] like the eastern towhee, yellow-breasted chat and American redstart,” said Victoria Spice, CIB restoration project manager. “It is our hope that this project will enable the preserve to better support the creatures that we all love to see and hear when out in nature.”
A group of 22 volunteers worked together to dig holes, move compost, mulch and plant 15-foot native hardwood trees to extend and improve the preserve’s forest in what was once a pasture. In addition to diversifying the existing forest, this fuller canopy will also serve as a shaded picnic area for visitors to enjoy the preserve. This improvement is part of Phase I of the James Farm Master Plan, a project expected to be completed by spring 2019.
Created in 2014, this plan includes several phases of updates that will help accommodate the growing needs of the preserve, while protecting its natural resources and enhancing educational opportunities. Right now, the center is working to raise funds for the second phase, including repair and realignment of the trail system, construction of new educational facilities, and improvements to storage areas.
For information about the James Farm Master Plan and how to get involved, go to www.inlandbays.org/JamesFarm.
Funding for this planting project was provided by the Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, whose goal is to enhance and promote the proper stewardship of Delaware’s urban forest resources.