Important Bird Areas

Whittingham Wildlife Management Area

New Jersey

The Whittingham Wildlife Management Area (WMA) spans Andover, Green and Fredon Townships near the southern end of Sussex County. The Pequest River bisects the site?s forested wetlands, emergent limestone wetlands, scrub-shrub and deciduous, coniferous and mixed upland forest. The Springdale and First Time Fen Natural Heritage Priority Sites, a large limestone wetland complex and pond fed by numerous alkaline seeps, constitutes a significant portion of the WMA. The Nature Conservancy?s (TNC) Johnsonburg Swamp and Muckshaw Ponds Preserves protect a series of limestone sinkholes and ponds at the southern and northern end, respectively, of the WMA. The site also includes Whittingham Cedars, an eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) forest that provides valuable habitat for wintering raptors.

Ornithological Summary

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: Barred Owl (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-threatened: Long-eared Owl (B)

Conservation Concern ? State-special Concern: Long-eared Owl (W)

Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: Pied-billed Grebe (B)
Conservation Concern ? State-endangered: American Bittern (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 28 Forest: Gray Catbird, Baltimore Oriole, Worm-eating Warbler, Wood Thrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo (B)

Regional Responsibility Species - BCR 28 Scrub-shrub/Barrens: Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, American Woodcock (B)

Conservation Issues

The protected habitats of Whittingham WMA and TNC?s Johnsonburg Swamp and Muckshaw Ponds Preserves are surrounded by agricultural lands and by increasing residential development. Nonpoint source pollution from adjacent agricultural and residential lands can degrade and dilute the mineral rich waters of the limestone fen. Expanding residential housing also results in increased groundwater withdrawal which further threatens these globally rare limestone wetland communities. Nearby development should consider the proximity to this wetland and the potential for altering water both above and below ground. Privately-owned portions of this rare, sensitive limestone fen community should also be prioritized for acquisition and habitat restoration. Forming cooperative partnerships with local landowners is an effective strategy to implement habitat restoration projects on privately-owned lands. TNC, for example, is working with a tenant farmer to retire several fields adjacent to a limestone sinkhole and a forest restoration project. Periodic disturbance in the form of grazing, flooding, fire or clearing is recommended to prevent succession to a forested community. Management recommendations include selective cutting of woody species followed by herbicide application to prevent re-growth. In addition, terrestrial buffers should be maintained to filter water flowing into the wetland and provide nesting and foraging habitat for wildlife. Forest health is further threatened by a growing number of exotic pests, tree diseases and overabundant deer. Invasive species are also reducing habitat structure by outcompeting native vegetation.

Ownership

Owned By: State of New Jersey
150 Fredon Rd.
Newton, NJ
07869 Phone: (973) 383-0918

Habitat

Mix of upland forest, forested wetlands and shrub-scrub

Land Use

The site is used for a wide variety of purposes. Primary uses are for multipurpose recreation and tourism and as a wildlife management area.