The southwestern section of the Hilltop contains open wetland areas, several of which are located along the Reservation’s western route (from Courter Lane in North Caldwell to the main service road) — see image to the right. Although currently infested with mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and invasive reed (Phragmites australis), these wetlands have high habitat potential for both migratory and year-round wildlife residents.
Two of these open areas were used by Essex County in the 1980’s as part of their leaf composting facility. Unfortunately trash and debris were also incorporated into the wind rows during that time, and once abandoned these sites were overrun by invasive plants. But with focused clean-up and invasives control efforts these Hilltop wetlands are being restored to an ecologically healthy and aesthetically pleasing condition.
See progress, next steps and a gallery of implementation photos below.
Progress To Date —
- 2015-2017: Scoped project with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS); obtained Essex County commitment to restore wetlands (see agreement below); removed concrete, trash and other debris
- 2018: Worked with Essex County to engage contractor to begin phragmites and mugwort control; began eradication of Norway maple, large gray willow, common privet and multiflora rose
- 2019: Continued phragmites and woody invasives control (including mowing dead vegetation); cut dead trees and overhanging branches; removed trash
- 2020: Completed phragmites and mugwort control; finished cutting and clearing dead trees and branches; removed trash; worked with County contractor and volunteers to plant native wetland shrubs along borders with private land; worked with volunteers to seed native wildflowers
- 2021-2022: Continued woody invasives control; worked with FWS to seed native wetland grasses; worked with volunteers to spot-treat invasives and seed native wildflowers
Next Steps —
- 2023: Monitor and spot-treat any invasives re-growth; seed more native grasses and wildflowers
To view this gallery click here.