This past Saturday, members of the Hilltop Conservancy began the long process of restoring the plants that once thrived in the area.
In 10 areas across the Hilltop Reservation, the group planted redbud (Cercis canadensis), arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and surrounded each group of plants with tall fences to prevent them from being eaten by deer. The Conservancy spent $500 of its own money to purchase the native plants from the state-run NJ Forest Nursery and local growers.
The work echoes the efforts that have been undertaken in other Essex County parks in the wake of the hunts to curb the deer populations there. As the herds had expanded, they all but ate the native plants out of existence, allowing non-native plants like wineberry, privet, shrub honeysuckle and winged euonymus to thrive. After the Saturday work on planting, Conservancy members returned to the Hilltop on Sunday, and the group’s treasurer, Theresa Trapp, says they “removed literally thousands” of wineberry and privet plants from the surrounding area.
The Conservancy will be monitoring the new planting areas closely and looking to add more enclosures. Trapp detailed the restoration work that the Conservancy has done over the last two years in a presentation to the Town Council on Monday. You can view that presentation here.