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Posts categorized Glades Wildlife Refuge.

Vernal Pools

By Steve Eisenhauer, Regional Director of Stewardship and Land Protection

Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands that are covered by shallow water intermittently in winter and spring, but may be completely dry in summer and fall. Often threatened by development or other changes in land and water use, they are unique environments that provide essential habitat for many rare and important plants and animals.

At our New Jersey preserves, Natural Lands Trust has been working to restore valuable vernal pool habitat for wetland creatures like wood frogs, turtles, salamanders, and other important species.

At our Glades Wildlife Refuge in Cumberland County, staff installed “ditch plugs” in a series of woodland ditches on former agricultural land to keep fresh water from draining too quickly into the surrounding tidal marsh. The ditch plugs enhance existing vernal pools and as well as create new ones. They also help recharge groundwater, which staves off saltwater intrusion.

On a recent survey of the area, I noted that the early warm weather brought the wood frogs out in large numbers, resulting in loud daytime calling of male frogs looking to impress females. A few days after the above photo was taken, two masses of wood frog eggs were found in the same location, attached to submerged sticks (below). The eggs will hatch in approximately three weeks, depending on temperature.


Enhanced habitat for wood frogs and other amphibians also benefits the animals that prey on them, such as Barred Owls and Red-shouldered Hawks (both listed as “threatened” species by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection). Specialized plant species such as the cranefly orchid (Tipularia discolor, right) also thrive in wooded wetland areas. Restoration of vernal pool areas and other important habitats not only help protect our freshwater resources, but they ensure that a diversity of habitat types are available to support the unique biological communities that call the Delaware Watershed and Bayshore area home.

This project received support from the William Penn Foundation whose Delaware River Watershed Initiative is an unprecedented collaboration of more than 50 leading nonprofits–including Natural Lands Trust–to protect and restore water quality in Delaware River watershed. Informed by science, the Initiative aligns priorities for land protection and restoration projects in these ecologically significant areas.

Glades: The birds & the bees… and the frogs

By Steve Eisenhauer, Regional Director of Stewardship and Land Protection

The wood frogs have been out in large numbers at many of our preserves, including Glades Wildlife Refuge. Males are loudly calling during the day for females, and some–like the ones I photographed here–are finding love.

The wood frog is believed to be the most cold-tolerant frog species in North America, and is the only frog found above the Arctic Circle.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website notes, “Wood frogs are well suited to a cold climate. They spend winters burrowed in the leaves that fell the previous fall. They stop breathing, their hearts stop beating, and ice crystals form within their hibernating bodies. A special antifreeze they produce keeps liquids from freezing inside their cells and killing them.”

Daytrip Discoveries: Glades Wildlife Refuge

By Dulcie Flaharty, Vice President of Community Partnerships

Dulcie’s “Daytrip Discoveries” represent her quest to visit all 17 of Natural Lands Trust’s publicly accessible nature preserves within one year–an adventure she hopes will inspire others to do the same! Dulcie was the Executive Director of Montgomery County Lands Trust, which merged with Natural Lands Trust in 2012.

In early December, 29 energetic hikers gathered at Natural Lands Trust’s Glades Wildlife Refuge along the Delaware Bay. We were eager to visit the Preserve’s old-growth forest, and to warm up with a vigorous hike. Among those on the excursion were Natural Lands Trust staffers Steve Eisenhower, Brian Johnson, and Debbie Beer.

Glades Hike Gathering 1

Glades Wildlife Refuge is the result of decades of land conservation work—beginning in 1964—and is comprised of 222 separate parcels. The 7, 700-acre preserve is the largest of Natural Lands Trust’s 42 preserves.

Our pathway through forests of sourgum, sweetgum, swamp chestnut oak, holly, pitchpine, and sweetbay magnolia kept us busy with tree identification. With almost every footstep, we were reminded that this was a swampy forest. Mosses and fungi dotted the pathways. Standing water was often visible between the trees.

Moss on leafy floor

Watery Forest Floor

Sourgum and swamp chestnut oak stood together as stately guardians of the swamp.

Chestnut Swamp Oak & Sour gum standing tall

Susan McNeill, a member of Natural Lands Trust’s Force of Nature® volunteer corps, joined us on the hike and enjoyed visiting the sandy venues that were a surprise to many on the trip.

Sandy trail with Susan

While at the beach, looking over the large 1,000-acre “lake,” Regional Director Steve Eisenhower told the story of how sand and gravel mining began here in the 1920s. The product of the mining fueled a burgeoning glass manufacturing industry in South Jersey along with producing an important component for many road-building projects.

Steve explains the history of the lakes

Big Lake through trees

Excited by the day’s unexpected sights, a final loop walk took us to one of the largest trees on the preserve. A massive sweetgum welcomed us and made many of us feel very small, as if we gathered at the foot of an unpretentious and elegant giant.

Giant Sweet Gum tree

On the way back to our cars, we stopped for another lakeside view. A keen-eyed birder spotted a circling Bald Eagle across the water. We all focused our binoculars and were delighted as the group spotted five more eagles, both mature and juvenile.

Our four-hour visit to Glades Wildlife Refuge was proof of the wild diversity found there… it is a wonderful place for those who revel in knowing that such a places exist and are protected and stewarded forever.

As we hiked out of Bear Swamp West, one last swamp could be seen along our route and provided a fitting finale to an adventure filled with a wonderful assortment of new experiences.

Last swamp heading home

When planning a trip to Glades, remember that it is a remote location. Please visit the preserve page for info to fully enjoy your visit.

Daytop Village Outdoor Adventures

For 13 years, Steve Eisenhauer—our New Jersey regional director of protection and stewardship—has led outdoor education programs s for students from 1st grade to graduate school. Activities focus on Natural Lands Trust’s preserves or other publicly accessible locations near these preserves in Cumberland, Salem, Cape May, and Atlantic Counties. Recently, Steve has had the pleasure of working with 30 teens from Daytop Village, a substance abuse treatment facility established in New York City in 1963 that has a residential campus in Cumberland County.

Over the past two months, Steve has led Daytop Village students on two kayak trips conducted over multiple days. On the first day, Steve taught safety skills and the basics of kayaking, and talked with the kids about the role of public property (land, water, and air) in society. The groups then explored Union Lake and the Maurice River, just upstream from our Harold N. Peek Preserve. After that, Steve visited their classroom to give an interactive presentation about exploring similar publicly accessible open space in the students’ home communities throughout New Jersey. The responsibilities of using public open space were emphasized, as was the wide range of this space: structures, sidewalks, roads, parks, rivers, beaches,  the ocean, and even the air (i.e. when you buy a house how high up can you build, and at what point does the air become public open space?).

With the onset of cold weather, the program is shifting to hiking adventures. A trip to the old growth forest of our Glades Wildlife Refuge is likely to be one of these hikes, as will visits to the trail systems of Parvin State Park and to the Maurice River Trail in Millville.

The pictures above show the students on their kayak adventures, which included spotting one of the five Bald Eagle pairs nesting within the city limits of Millville, NJ. These two particular eagles were seen only a half-mile from downtown Millville.

Glades Wildlife Refuge: Osprey Rescue


Brian Johnson with a rescued Osprey

This past summer, Brian Johnson, Preserve Manager at our Glades Wildlife Refuge and Peek Preserve (and local bird rescuing hero), saved the lives of two young Ospreys. Brian has been a nature enthusiast and bird watcher for over 35 years, but he can still be surprised.

The first Osprey was found along the side of the road by local residents who called Brian for help. At first it looked as though the bird had been hit by a car, which—sadly—is not an uncommon occurrence. However, Brian noticed that the young Osprey’s wings and legs were working perfectly fine, it just seemed very weak. Its condition continued to worsen as the day went on, so Brian took the Osprey to Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, a native wildlife rehabilitation center in Medford, NJ. The specialists there informed him that the bird was simply malnourished; it had been left alone too soon and could not hunt properly on its own.

The second Osprey’s tale happens much less frequently. In July, a severe thunderstorm hit Glades. The gusty winds (over 90 mph) brought down three Osprey nests. One of the young birds was restored to its nest by a local landowner. Brian discovered the second downed nest after spotting the parent birds circling—and screaming—above their now-empty nest. Their chicks had not survived the storm. Then, after trudging 300 yards across the marsh with water up to his waist, Brian found another downed nest and a displaced chick.

Brian rebuilt a platform for the nest and placed the orphaned chick inside. Miraculously, after 30 minutes and only a day after losing their young, the parent ospreys took in the new bird as if it were their own. Brian frequently checks back in on the happy family and reports that they are all still there together.

Ospreys considered a “threatened” species in New Jersey, so Brian’s actions are even more heroic! If you find an animal in need, please don’t hesitate to call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation center (a list is below).


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