From its headwaters on the Sourland Mountain ridge, Alexauken Creek meanders through pastoral Hunterdon County countryside to join the Delaware River just north of Lambertville. Said to be one of New Jersey's most pristine streams, it passes through properties acquired just last year by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to form the Alexauken Creek Wildlife Management Area. Within the WMA, mature woodlands buffer and cool the rocky creek. A breached dam near an abandoned farmstead still holds back enough water to from a substantial pond. Sweeping hillside meadows offer splendid views over rolling hills and valleys.
WCAS volunteers will have the pleasure of conducting a biological inventory of this extraordinarily beautiful preserve throughout the year 2003. Members of the East Amwell Environmental Commission and a group of township residents has requested our help in gathering information that will form the foundation of recommendations for a management plan that will protect habitat needs of nongame species rather than focus simply on management for optimal game conditions. Biological inventory data will be a critical component of these recommendations.
On June 5, several members of our regular inventory team toured the WMA with a neighboring resident and members of the Environmental Commission. In just that three-hour period, 38 bird species were listed, including scarlet tanager, Louisiana waterthrush and several pileated woodpeckers. An old springhouse harbored an albino redback salamander, among other critters, and at least a dozen eastern painted turtles were seen basking at the pond. A pair of red-tailed hawks scolded at the edge of a meadow, probably protecting their young.
The inventory will be conducted from January through December 2003 in order to get a good look at habitat usage throughout the seasons. Birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates and plants will be documented in the various habitat types. Volunteers with expert or intermediate skills in any areas of flora and fauna identification or descriptive ecology and the time to commit to regular visits to the WMA are needed. Uncertain about your skills? You can be put to work as an apprentice note-taker, data collector, photographer or GPS navigator while honing your identification skills.
An organizational meeting and a preliminary field visit will be scheduled in the fall. If you think you might like to volunteer, contact Pat Sziber by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at 19 Wildwood Way, Titusville, NJ 08560 with a brief description of your particular skill area and/or how you would like to be a part of this exciting and challenging inventory opportunity.
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