In 2011, CRI awarded this project $4000 through its Franklin Parker Small Grant program.
The Dismal Swamp Conservation Area (DSCA) Trails Project was conceived in 2003 by the nonprofit Edison Wetlands Association (EWA). As the largest natural area remaining in this densely populated region of the state, the 1240-acre Dismal Swamp habitat enjoys a wide range of biodiversity, with nearly 200 species of birds sighted as well as a dozen threatened species. EWA has led the effort to preserve the Dismal Swamp since 1990, and has preserved approximately half of the area.
EWA continues to engage the public through mainstream media, blogs, videos, the web, and social media sites, as well as through public meetings, presentations, tours and cleanup events. In July 2011, EWA opened the half-mile Songbird Trail, which immediately became a well-used regional asset. The trail currently offers hiking and mountain biking through an upland area crossed by waterways and adjacent to a public park and neighborhood. At their Triple C Ranch and Nture Center, located in the heart of the DSCA, EWA has engaged several schools from Edison and South Plainfield to assist with trail cleaning and maintenance, and education of students in a DSCA living classroom.
Ecosystem Services Provided:
Recreation and Aesthetics: Public access- hiking trails; Environmental education
Total Project Cost: $302,000
Status: At Songbird Trail, EWA continues to conduct cleanups and tours, and installs seasonable displays. They have installed security cameras, signs, kiosks, and benches, hung bird feeders, marked trees with identification tags, added bike racks, planted over 30 fruit-bearing or habitable trees, and designed additional trails for future phases. EWA also created a series of trail guides and continually stocks the trailhead kiosks with them. EWA noticed a significant amount of bikers riding through the trail, and consequently installed a bike rack at the main trailheads.
In 2012, at the Triple C Ranch and Nature Center, EWA led ecotours for over 1000 visitors from schools, scouts, and many other organizations. EWA and its volunteers have collected over 3000 pounds of debris out of the DSCA. EWA worked with an Eagle Scout to install 10 bat boxes, now used for education along the tours. Another Eagle Scout installed trailheads and markers on the newly acquired Raptor Reserve, along with a kiosk describing the Raptor Reserve and Owl Trail.
If you would like further information about this project, please contact Conservation Resources.