Don's Jersey Birding: Bergen Audubon Restores Butterfly Habitat to Teaneck Creek
Teaneck Creek Habitat Restoration Project will help migratory birds, pollinators, and especially butterflies.
Photo courtesy of Marie Longo
Mark Twain once said, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore." In Bergen County, we know far too well they are certainly are not making land to purchase and preserve as open space for wildlife. With that in mind Bergen County Audubon Society (BCAS) decided to do the next best thing, which was to enrich and improve the habitat for our wildlife that already exists in our own community.
With a successful butterfly habitat restoration project under our belt at Overpeck Preserve last year, we decided to do the same thing at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy (TCC). TCC, deemed the "Little Eden" of Bergen County, is a wonderful wildlife habitat, but like all natural places in New Jersey there are problems with invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed, Mile-A-Minute Vine and Porcelain Berry. Invasive, non-native plants can severely limit the wildlife species that can exist in such a limited diverse habitat unless controlled and replaced with beneficial native plants.
The Teaneck Creek Weed Warriors, an all-volunteer group that has been at the forefront of improving the biodiversity on Teanrck Creek, breaking ground for the habitat restoration project.
Photo courtesy of George D. Reskakis
"The volunteers at the Teaneck Creek Conservancy are very excited about our partnership with Bergen County Audubon Society," said George. "Our goal has always been to remove invasives and replace them with native plants that will increase the biodiversity of Teaneck Creek. This restoration project will help achieve that goal."
With funding from the National Audubon Society and BCAS the project began last fall with the help of the Teaneck Garden Club. Many native shrubs and grasses were purchased at the end of the season to help cut costs and were wintered at the garden club to be transferred to TCC in the Spring. To get started, George and his weed warriors first had the tough job of clearing the invasives in order to get the ground ready for the native plantings. They did an incredible job.
Bergen County Audubon Society volunteers break ground for butterfly habitat at Teaneck Creek.
Photo courtesy of Don Torino
In the first phase of the project, key butterfly plants such as Swamp Milkweed, Spicebush and Buttonbush were planted by Bergen Audubon volunteers, as well as Ironweed and Joe-Pye Weed.
"This will not only be a vital area that will benefit wildlife, but it will also become an important place to educate the public on what they can do to restore their own backyards," said Marie Longo, Education Chairperson for BCAS. "This project shows what could be accomplished when community groups join together to help wildlife."
Restoring native plants to any habitat, whether it is Teaneck Creek or your own backyard, will be like turning on a light switch that will bring back migratory birds, pollinators, and yes, the butterflies too. Plant it and they will come. Our native plants produce to the right fruits, flowers, and nuts at exactly the right time to sustain life in our forests and fields.
John Muir once wrote, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." Native plants attach all of nature and us to the rest of the world.
Don Torino is the President of Bergen County Audubon Society.