Native Plant Habitat Taking Shape at Trail Conference Headquarters

By Linda Rohleder, Trail Conference Director of Land Stewardship and Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management Coordinator

Tree Planting

Volunteers helped plant carefully selected, native trees around the Darlington Schoolhouse grounds.

It may be fall, but the grounds at the Trail Conference’s new headquarters are looking a lot greener. Landscaping appropriate to the riparian flood plain location of the Darlington Schoolhouse is helping to restore a native plant habitat, which will provide food and shelter for other native species.

The first step in installing this native plant habitat took place in May, when volunteers helped plant carefully selected trees such as swamp white oak, which supports a large number of animal species. Phase two took place on August 29, when 49 incoming freshman from Ramapo College of New Jersey helped plant almost 400 small shrubs such as silky dogwood, which produces flowers in the spring for us to enjoy, and fruit attractive to birds in summer. A future phase of the landscaping will introduce an herbaceous layer to the grounds, which will include many wildflowers, grasses, and ferns. Native wildflowers such as swamp milkweed, which serves as a host plant to the dwindling population of monarch butterflies, will further enhance the habitat.

In addition to establishing appropriate vegetation, this habitat along the Ramapo River adjacent to Darlington Schoolhouse is being augmented to establish breeding areas for the native wood turtle. This includes the introduction of sand beds for egg laying.

Not only will the property provide habitat to serve our native fauna, it will also serve as a teaching and learning site. With a large variety of the native plants found in our area collected together in one place, students, hikers, and members of the general public can come to the Trail Conference to study and learn about these native species firsthand. When the habitat is fully established, the public will be invited to participate in seasonal programs to identify the various species as they leaf out, flower, fruit, and change color.

The native landscape is being designed by Richard Pillar, a New Jersey Licensed Landscape Architect and former owner of Wild Earth Native Plant Nursery.

If you’d like to volunteer to help with the native plant landscape, please contact

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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1 Response to Native Plant Habitat Taking Shape at Trail Conference Headquarters

  1. don uebel says:

    why can’t you leave mother nature alone? if you are replacing what was removed by people, well yea, maybe otherwise please stop; maybe remove invasive species like barberry but stop messing with the natural evolution of the public lands – stop the ugly steps and bridges that are built in the parks also. and, if you really want to help the wildlife stay home – all wildlife is disturbed by your presence, they run from humans not towards them.
    what is see are maples replacing oaks, so what do you really know better?

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