- An Introduction to Stewardship
- Native Plants and Ecological Landscaping
- Deer Management
- Water Quality
An Introduction to Stewardship
Stewardship is a fresh approach to nature, where people are fundamental to the health and beauty of the natural world around us. Through good stewardship we reap the rewards of a healthy, diverse environment and a deeper relationship to our planet.
Featured in this section are: organizations that educate on, advise, or implement stewardship projects; and some core books and media to get grounded in stewardship concepts and our local natural world.
Several organizations in our area are dedicated to enhancing stewardship through education and expert assistance.
ORG Duke Farms
Many classes and events enhance nature awareness and stewardship practices. The beautiful Duke Farms property in Hillsborough demonstrates green practices and ecological restoration, inspiring visitors to become informed stewards of the land.
The Private Lands Stewardship Program is a free service offering direct assistance to local residents engaged in property stewardship. Available to Hopewell residents and those living within one mile of Hopewell Township.
NRCS’s programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters– often with incentive payments for farmers and others.
Here are some fundamental resources to understanding our local natural world and how we can act as stewards.
A publication of the Sourland Conservancy with stewardship topics ranging from native plants to water quality, in a colorful, illustrated booklet or online PDF.
PRINT Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Douglas Tallamy
A life-changing book for many who care about native birds and other wildlife, highlighting ways to make our human landscapes functional for animals by addressing the health of the food chain — starting with insects and native plants.
PRINT The Once and Future Forest: A Guide to Forest Restoration Strategies. Leslie Jones Sauer
The manual for ecological restoration practices in the Northeast. Advanced but very readable and full of local examples.
Sourlands weaves a provocative tale of ecology, energy and agriculture, told through the stories of farmers, inventors, naturalists and others in the Sourlands region. http://www.sourlands.com/
Some people are afraid to spend time in the woods because they don’t want to get poison ivy. This video explains how to avoid getting poison ivy ever again.
Plants are the building blocks of healthy habitats, providing food and shelter for wildlife, building soils, and maintaining climate, rainfall, and carbon in balance. Native plants are deeply linked with native wildlife and assemble into more diverse, functional, and beautiful plant communities than non-native species.
The resources below will help you identify, choose, source, and understand native plants, as well as other aspects of ecological landscaping.
Several organizations in our area are dedicated resources on native plants.
A non-profit with annual events and regional chapters dedicated to the appreciation, protection, and study of the native flora of New Jersey.
Offering classes and events relating to native plants and wildlife, as well as hiking within a deer-fenced preserve full of beauty and wild plants.
The best sources for native plants are nurseries that propagate their own plant materials from local strains (ecotypes), from ethically collected wild seed sources. Below is a list of wholesale and retain nurseries in our region.
Spring and fall sales with a wide selection of native plants available for retail customers. Some plants may be from local seed sources.
A retail nursery in Pennsylvania specializing in native plants in a variety of sizes.
Wholesale only, with plug-sized material for ecological restoration. Some species are available from local seed ecotypes. Many native plants offered, not exclusively native.
A retail and wholesale nursery with a wide selection of nursery-propagated, seed grown plants in an organic, peat free potting mix.
Wholesale only, with plug-sized and larger material for ecological restoration. Strong focus on wetlands species. Plants are propagated from ecotypes local to the East Coast, with many New Jersey seed collections featured.
A retail mail order native plant nursery with sales at local farm markets. Some plants may be derived from local seed sources.
A retail and wholesale native nursery, with an emphasis on edible and medicinal plants and ecological restoration species. Plants are from local seed sources and growing practices are free of synthetic chemicals, using an organic, peat-free potting mix.
Creation of wildflower meadows and grasslands is frequently done from seed. Local ecotype seeds are preferable but many more seeds are available from midwestern sources that specialize in prairie restorations. Some of the best are listed below. Beware “wildflower” mixes that contain assorted non-native annuals.
BUS Prairie Nursery
A Wisconsin seed house with an extensive selection of native species, and helpful resources.
A Midwestern seed house with a wide selection of native seeds. Their website and catalogs are beautiful, thorough resources and staff is very helpful.
BUS Ernst Seeds
A Pennsylvania seed house with many native plant seeds (not exclusively, and beware of several invasive species sold). Economical and featuring many species from Pennsylvania seed ecotypes.
Offering a limited selection of seeds with ecotypes from the East Coast including New Jersey.
The following businesses specialize in creating or stewarding native plant-based landscapes and habitats.
A native plant-based landscape architectural consulting firm specializing in ecological, resilient garden design.
Offering on-site consultation with residents interested in stewarding or establishing native plant habitats.
Need to look up a wildflower? Figure out if its native, or how tall it grows? Here are some great web resources.
WEB USDA Plants
A comprehensive resource including native range maps
A resource from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, with native plant descriptions and pictures geared towards home gardeners.
WEB Go Botany
A great plant identification tool from the New England Wild Flower Society, with plant ID tools for beginners and advanced users.
Field Guides and Native Plant Guides
These books are helpful in identifying plants in the wild, and selecting beautiful and functional plants for landscaping and restoration projects.
PRINT Wildflowers: A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Flowers of North America. By William Cullina.
PRINT Native Trees, Shrubs & Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants. By William Cullina.
PRINT Native Ferns, Moss and Grasses. By William Cullina.
Cullina’s books are smartly written and beautifully illustrated guides to our native flora, from both a horticultural and ecological perspective.
PRINT Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. By Lawrence Newcomb
A classic field guide and still the best way to learn unfamiliar wild plants when in bloom.
PRINT Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. Douglas Tallamy
Lots of well-penned insight and information for those who want to support wildlife with native plants.
Lawn to Meadow
Want to save time and money and convert lawn area to a beautiful meadow? Here are some resources for getting started.
WEB Transforming Your Lawn Into A Meadow
A short overview of creating a meadow from a lawn, by Jared Rosenbaum, Naturalist Advisor, Sourland Stewards program.
[LINK coming soon]
A guide to meadow installation from Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery. Comprehensive and to the point, this is a perfect resource.
Here’s a video version where Diboll explains his five steps in his engaging and charismatic way.
A guide to meadow maintenance from Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery.
PRINT The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook, For Prairies, Savannahs, and Woodlands.
Stephen Packard and Cornelia F. Mutel, ed.
An advanced ecological tome to prairie restoration with much pertinent information for meadow establishment and maintenance.
A good overview of meadow virtues, establishment and maintenance practices from our neighbors in Pennsylvania, Natural Lands Trust.
Class Creating Meadows
This class explains the ecology, installation, and management of meadows appropriate for New Jersey landscapes. Held at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ.
Some species of non-native plants can monopolize natural and restored habitats, excluding plant and wildlife diversity. Find out how to identify and remove them, or avoid planting them, with these resources,
Invasive plants are from other parts of the globe and are often introduced as horticultural plantings. Many are widely planted in our gardens and landscaping—Japanese barberry and winged euonymus are two examples.
Though these plants may seem “well-behaved” in the garden, they are readily dispersed to natural areas by wind, water and wildlife, sometimes far from the original plantings. Overabundant white-tailed deer preferentially browse our native flora, giving less palatable invasive species a competitive advantage.
Extensive resources on invasive species control, mapping, and replacement.
A comprehensive resource on invasive plant management and restoration options.
An identification manual and control guidelines from the National Park Service & US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Our human landscapes can be lifeless expanses inhospitable to wildlife, or we can design them to be incredibly rich and diverse. The resources below help us address the needs of particular wildlife species in our home landscape design.
A keystone resource for sustaining wildlife in our yards is the book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas Tallamy.
See also the resources on Native Plants [hyperlink] above for creating suitable wildlife habitat.
The following organizations offer resources to those interested in creating or stewarding habitat for birds, rare wildlife species, and other animals.
ORG NJ Audubon
Classes, nature sanctuaries, habitat management staff, especially related to birds.
Offers education, resources, and research on rare wildlife species in New Jersey.
ORG Mercer County Parks
ORG Hunterdon County Parks
ORG Somerset County Parks
These local county park commissions offers outdoor hikes, camps and parkland for learning about wildlife and habitats, and maintain extensive preserved land in the Sourlands.
Amphibians & Reptiles
PRINT Salamanders, Frogs, and Turtles of New Jersey’s Vernal Pools
Natural history accounts and identification of amphibians and turtles, and information about vernal pools.
Field guides from NJDEP about amphibians and reptiles; similar to the above print publication.
A great short video and other information on threats to amphibians as they cross roads to mate in vernal pools, from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ.
How to create bat habitat in New Jersey, downloadable PDF.
WEB Bat Dwellings
Build and install a bat house, or create an artificial roost.
WEB Be Bear Aware
Guidelines for maintaining safe interaction with bears.
Understanding black bear ecology can help reduce negative human-bear interactions.
PRINT Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
Excellent illustrated field guide to birds of our region.
WEB Cats Indoors
In the U.S., free-roaming domestic cats kill an estimated 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals.
A balanced account of the basics about Eastern Coyotes, including their origins, ecology, and safety considerations.
Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects
There are some excellent resources for attracting and conserving pollinators and other beneficial insects in home and agricultural landscapes
Resources, advocacy, and research related to invertebrates, especially pollinators.
PRINT Pollinators of Native Plants by Heather Holm
Interested in creating a garden that attracts butterflies and bees? This book is an incredibly thorough document of pollinator interactions with numerous native plant species, including lots of photographs and information to help choose plants for pollinator gardens.
PRINT Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide. Rick Cech and Guy Tudor.
A beautifully illustrated and engagingly written guide to butterflies of our region.
PRINT Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies.
A comprehensive manual for pollinator conservation, from the Xerces Society.
This brochure contains information about how to enhance any landscape to help meet the seasonal needs of bumblebees.
Very detailed publication to creating habitat for pollinators, including seed mixes and implementation practices. Jointly developed by NRCS, Xerces Society, and the Winfree Lab at Rutgers.
A simple visual guide to some of the more common bee species native to New Jersey.
WEB Farming for Pollinators – Xerces Society
This brochure provides a summary of the habitat requirements of crop pollinators and where their habitat may be found in the area around a farm.
An introduction to the most important native crop pollinators in New Jersey with guidelines for habitat management practices that encourage them.
Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that are used widely on farms, as well as around our homes, schools, and city landscapes. This brochure explains why they are a risk to bees, gives examples of neonicotinoid garden products, and gives some simple tips for protecting bees from these insecticides.
PRINT Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey by Beans and Niles
This book features profiles of New Jersey’s state-listed wildlife species, including bobcat, several grassland bird species, and other animals relevant to the Sourlands region.
How can we address the massive overpopulation of deer that threatens our forests and decimates farms and gardens? Here are resources for understanding the deer overpopulation crisis, its environmental, economic, and human health impacts, and how to manage deer on your property.
The source for all New Jersey game hunting and safety regulations.
An organization that facilitates the donation of venison from hunters to feed the hungry via foodbanks.
Answers to questions about deer management on your property, prepared by the Sourland Conservancy.
Looking for a hunter to manage deer on your property? Browse the listings on The Hunter Connection to find hunters which match your needs and objectives. Presented by the Sourland Conservancy.
A comprehensive resource on deer overpopulation impacts and management options
Articles and resources on deer impacts, ecology, lyme disease, deer management, and more.
Groundwater is a finite resource in the Sourlands. The clay soils and massive bedrock of the Mountain cannot readily absorb rainfall and snow melt, creating increased stormwater runoff and poor recharge of groundwater. These inherent limitations of the region’s geology have implications for Sourland residents who depend upon on wells for drinking water, as well as for the region’s ecosystems
Below are resources with ways to conserve water in and around the house, including efficient appliances, rain gardens and barrels, and water conserving habits. Also below are resources to help protect and restore streams and other water bodies on your property.
ORG Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association
Offering education and resources related to water quality issues in our region.
BUS Princeton Hydro
Experts on hydrology, water quality, wetlands assessments, and ecological restoration
BUS Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants, Inc.
Wetlands and rare species assessments.
An advanced but beautifully written short treatise on water, in nature and in engineered landscapes. For those who want a deeper understanding of how water is mismanaged and what to do about it.
Water Conservation at Home
ORG Duke Farms
Offers classes on sustainable homeownership and living.
Simple information on saving money and water inside and outside the home
About the EPA’s WaterSense label on water-conserving consumer products
EPA’s WaterSense guide to greener outdoor landscapes which save water
Common sense approaches to mowing and maintaining a lawn from Natural Lands Trust (PA).
WEB Rain Barrels
Thorough information on rain barrels, from Rutgers.
Available for download (in sections)
PRINT The Puddle Garden
In this children’s book, a lonely bear cub plants a native rain garden to attract wildlife friends to his home. The website has additional resources on native plantings at
Answer four easy questions and the calculator tells you how wide and deep to dig, how many plants to plant, and other information. The site has other useful information as well.
A beautifully designed and illustrated manual for stream assessment and restoration with stand-alone chapters on topics from rehabilitation to trout streams. From Trout Unlimited and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.