Habitat loss and degradation is one of the greatest threats to the natural world and we protect our own future by protecting habitats. Suburban neighborhoods have exchanged healthy native habitats for vast stretches of manicured lawns which contribute little ecological value. This is simply not sustainable.
Ewing is a 15.6 square mile first-ring suburb of Trenton, New Jersey’s capital city. Most land within the Township is occupied by residential development or industrial and commercial facilities. Our 2016 Environmental Resource Inventory tallies 631 acres of municipal, county and state preserved open space. As a very developed community, opportunities to develop additional open space and provide wildlife habitat are extremely limited. Our focus on privately owned property using conservation landscaping is a logical next step for our very developed community.
Sustainable stewardship of the land means working with nature to reduce pollution and enhance wildlife habitat. It requires thoughtful yard care, the elimination of fertilizers and pesticides, reduction in lawn area and outdoor water usage; and establishment of native plants. We believe that implementation of sustainable landscaping practices can have profound impacts on water quality and biodiversity; and that residents and businesses can make positive contributions to support wildlife, protect biodiversity and conserve the natural world.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Garden for Wildlife™ program provides a framework to conduct outreach and educate property owners about these critical issues. The program also requires creation or restoration of wildlife habitat. We intend to implement the program following their guidelines and achieve certification as a community by encouraging participants to provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, shelter and places to raise young; while providing guidance to Ewing homeowners in obtaining individual certifications for their own properties.
A community becomes certified through an accumulation of points for certified properties and a variety of education and outreach points.
- Encourage homeowners and businesses to create wildlife habitats and connections on their own properties.
- Promote native plants that will support biodiversity, attract a variety of wildlife and require less water and care than most non-native plants.
- Minimize/eliminate use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers; as wildlife is sensitive, directly and indirectly, to chemical exposure through their food supply. This will also reduce toxic runoff into our local watersheds and the Delaware River.
- Achieve community certification through the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program – 250 NWF points.
What we will do
Our primary goal is to utilize the National Wildlife Federation Community Habitat Certification program to educate and encourage creation of additional habitat on properties throughout the town. We have registered Ewing as a participating community in the program (see registration certificate below). We intend to perform outreach to homeowners throughout the community, but also to create habitat in public areas in town.
During the 2018 gardening season we created a small demonstration habitat garden in the center courtyard at the Ewing Senior and Community Center (ESCC). It is filled with native plants, a birdbath and birdhouse. Please check our News page for articles about the progress of the garden.
We anticipate that our work may be further supplemented by a partnership with Mercer County Parks Department which will work with Ewing Township to create wildflower meadows on Ewing public lands. This is still in the planning stages. If implemented, planting will begin in the fall.
This joint project of the Ewing’s Environmental Commission and Green Team will be carried out by Joseph Mirabella, Environmental Commission Chair, Joanne Mullowney, Green Team Chair, as well as Wildlife Habitat Committee members Heidi Furman, Mary Corrigan, Karen Kissel, Eileen Antolino, Jocelyn Wallace, and Glenn Steinberg.
We anticipate working closely with Township Administration, Public Works staff, the Township Planner, Mercer County staff Jillian Stark, Jenn Rogers, and Emily Blackman, as well outside partners such as the West Trenton Garden Club, and others to be determined.
In implementing this program, the Township and its sustainability entities, the Environmental Commission and Green Team will take leadership roles in educating property owners about the importance of habitat creation and living in harmony with the natural world in a very developed community. It will also foster greater communication between our two boards and township residents and enable them to see and use us as a resource.
People frequently ask what they can do to make a difference and this program can truly make a difference to the natural world. Additional benefits include promoting the health of residents by decreased reliance on chemicals in the landscape, and greater appreciation for nature. It is our hope that residents will adopt conservation landscaping as a way of providing life sustaining support for the myriad of creatures in Mother Nature’s web of life.