Forest Management in MCR Environmental Preserve


Merrill Creek Reservoir (MCR) staff is working with New Jersey Audubon Forester, Don Donnelly to re-forest an area of the Environmental Preserve.The area encompasses a peninsula of land where volunteers and other naturalists conduct ecological surveys, informal research on flora and fauna, and forest stewardship demonstration projects. The forests of the environmental preserve were hit hard during super-storm Sandy and have not fully recovered because of the proliferation of non-native plants and high deer herbivory that plagued the region during the past decade. The first step of the plan is to use a forestry mower to remove existing undesirable non-native vegetation and shrubs, then replant the site with approximately 500 trees per acre on an 8’ x 10’ spacing. This will allow us to mimic natural tree regeneration densities, which will help to minimize non-native plant re-emergence. MCR received a grant from the New Jersey Tree Foundation for 2,500 trees of several species to promote future resiliency of the forest. The trees will be protected by an electric fence system along the perimeter of the planting to protect the seedlings until they reach at least 6’-7’ tall. The trees will be planted by college and high school interns who are studying within the environmental field.

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Bald eagle fledged from MCR seen in PA

Male bald eagle banded June 18, 2015
Male bald eagle banded June 18, 2015 (click on image to see full size)

Michael Rucci photographed an immature bald eagle at the Octoraro Reservoir in Chester County, PA. After seeing that his subject had a green band on one of his feet, he emailed his photograph to the NJDEP Fish and Wildlife biologist who looked up the band number, E-25, and saw that the eagle had  been banded as a nestling on June 18, 2015 at the Merrill Creek Reservoir.   

In the photograph you can see that the bird has a lot of white on the under side of the body, but it does not not a full white head and tail of an adult. This bird is almost 2 years old but technically in it’s third year if you count 2015 as year 1.

For additional information on Merrill Creek eagles please see the bald eagle tab on the main page.



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Monarch Butterfly

Tagged Monarch and BeeWe collected several 5th instar Monarch caterpillars from the meadows at Merrill Creek. After they emerged from their chrysalis they were tagged with an adhesive tag and released to begin their epic journey to wintering sites in the mountains of Mexico.

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Fall at Merrill Creek

September 10, 2015

First rain in quite some time!

The MCR Hawk Watch, which operates from the Inlet Outlet Tower parking lot, began the season on September 1. Very hot and humid weather, but the dedicated volunteers began counting the migrating raptors flying south over Scott’s Mountain. All visitors are welcome to stop by assist with the count. No experience necessary!

The monarch butterfly has begun its migration south to the wintering grounds in the mountains of Mexico. We will be tagging monarchs as the pass through our area.  Stop in the Visitor Center to observe some monarchs as they transform from caterpillars to adults.

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