The Grassland Conservation Plan is a
scientifically-based, spatially explicit
strategy to restore and conserve
grassland bird habitat in the Central
Piedmont Plains.The Plan was developed
under the leadership of the
New Jersey Audubon Society with
technical support by several public
and private conservation organizations. In 2005, a small group of non-profits and local and state governments began meeting to better coordinate their activities and their joint interest in the preservation, restoration and enhancement of habitats in the Central Piedmont Plains. From these initial gatherings, the Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership (RPWHP) was formed. RPWHP’s mission is to insure the prompt and effective implementation of the New Jersey State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), in the Central Piedmont Plains.
This coalition of more than a dozen public and private conservation organizations has collaborated on developing science-based conservation plans and designing strategies to preserve, restore and enhance habitat. The members share the belief that working together to conserve the natural resources of the Central Piedmont Plains will help ensure the quality of life for its residents, through retaining farmland, conserving water quality and quantity, and promoting eco-tourism and environmental education.
One primary goal of the SWAP is the preservation of the connectivity of terrestrial and riparian habitats in the Central Piedmont Plains. The RPWHP has worked hard towards fulfillment of this goal, developing management plans and strategies for the three major habitats identified within the plan. The first major initiative that the RPWHP undertook was the development of a Grassland Conservation Plan that emphasized the statewide and regional significance of agricultural grasslands in the Central Piedmont Plains. The Plan was completed in 2006, and since that time the partners have been working to preserve imperiled sites, restore degraded habitat, and enhance conditions for grassland birds at sites embedded within the focal areas identified by the plan.
In 2008, RPWHP began to work on other priority habitats identified in the SWAP to focus on forest and riparian corridors. The RPWHP has drafted a new Forest and Riparian Conservation Plan that uses an approach similar to the RPWHP Grassland Conservation Plan to identify the most critical core forest patches and highest priority riparian corridors and wetlands. In the Grassland Conservation Plan, emphasis was placed on the grassland regions in the northern part of the Central Piedmont Plains within the Raritan River Watershed. However, in the newly drafted RPWHP Forest and Riparian Conservation Plan the focus has expanded to include the entire Central Piedmont Plains and a small portion of the Southern Highlands that includes the Upper Raritan Watershed. The plan identifies focal areas for conservation action in 31 townships across Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and Mercer Counties.
What's new: In 2011, RPWHP initiated the development of a single RPWHP Comprehensive Conservation Plan that identifies priority Forest, Riparian and Grassland habitats in the Central Piedmont Plains. The previously completed RPWHP conservation plans for Grassland, Forest and Riparian areas used different planning area boundaries. The Comprehensive Plan looks at one area using a unified planning area boundary. This new version of the RPWHP Conservation Plan also addresses climate change.
The final plan is currently being completed and in the interim, there is an executive summary to help guide conservation implementation projects now. Click here to review the executive summary.