The Riparian Restoration Landscape and Wood Turtle Habitat at Darlington Schoolhouse has been formally renamed the Grzybowski Preserve in honor of Edward Gryzbowski and his sister Janet. Under the guidance of the newly appointed environmental sculptor, George Trakas, the Grzybowski Preserve is sure to be a beautiful and sustainable way to connect people to nature.
As construction transforms the exterior and grounds at the Darlington Schoolhouse, Grzybowski Preserve is under development. The Trail Conference is focused on making the most out of the land surrounding the headquarters, while maintaining habitat integrity. Trakas is in the process of scouting the grounds as he creates blueprint drafts for the design of the Grzybowski Preserve.
The Trail Conference is very interested in creating a habitat for wood turtles, which are native to Northern Jersey and are classified by the state as threatened. To gain insight on native species surrounding the schoolhouse, we reached out to Brian Zarate, from the Endangered and Nongame Species Program for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW).
Brian saw great potential in the Darlington Brook’s bank and found the habitat perfectly suitable for wood turtles. The question remains, are there wood turtles that nest along the Darlington Brook? The Trail Conference is hoping to be part of the NJDFW annual collection of data and surveys to track activity where endangered and threatened species are. If the opportunity arises, we will call upon volunteers to help survey the area with the NJDFW representative.
Brian noted that the wetlands behind the Darlington Schoolhouse present an ideal opportunity to support vernal pools (3-4 ft pools of water habitat), which would attract wood frogs, spotted salamander, and other native reptile and amphibians. Early this week, we will create a sample vernal pool to see if it will hold water on its own.
Once data and the surveys are collected, the Trail Conference will start designing the habitat in detail.