At our 209-acre South Branch Preserve North in Mount Olive, we have planted 7,305 trees and shrubs on 37 acres of former corn fields, restoring these to native forest and providing a buffer for three-quarters of a mile of the South Branch of the Raritan River. Our next project at the South Branch Preserve is the Butterfly Meadow Restoration on the fields adjacent to Route 46. Native pollinator populations such as bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are rapidly dwindling across the country. The monarch butterflies have been dramatically impacted by the decline of native habitat, including milkweed that is necessary to help them lay their eggs and complete their four-generation migration across the continent. To help with the declining population, we are partnering with ArcheWild to harvest native wildflower seeds, including milkweed specific to the South Branch bioregion.
Together, we will plant these seeds and restore former corn fields into visually stunning meadows that will create essential habitat for all of the pollinators, including the monarchs. We plan to install trails throughout the meadows for public access and enjoyment as well as a butterfly camera that will allow people to tune in from anywhere in the world and monitor the butterflies. Our work at the South Branch Preserve is helping to address larger social issues like health, nutrition, declining pollinator populations, and sustainability, all on permanently preserved land. Our Butterfly Meadow Restoration project is an exciting next step, and we could not do it without our members.