Laura here, one half of the dynamic duo that makes up Hike the World. Ryan and I have always felt that the organizations that protect and clean our state and national parks don't get enough credit for all of the hard work they do. They are truly the unsung heroes of the trail. That's why we want to highlight as many as we can here, on the Hike the World site.
I was out hiking a few weeks ago with a Hike the World member and we ran into some folks from Restore Native Plants as they were removing invasive plant species at Ramapo. We chatted with them for a while and found out that they are heavily involved with a ton of restoration projects in our local parks. We knew right away that we wanted to feature them so we hope you are as eager as we were to learn more about why they are so integral to our environment.
Restore Native Plants is an environmental non-profit organization based out of Ramapo Mountain State Forest. Our mission is to restore the region’s native plant and animal species - many of which have become threatened and endangered. So far, we have protected and restored 216 acres of wildlife habitat. As human development and climate change continue to threaten the environment, we strive to create a more sustainable future for humans and wildlife alike.
Through the help of volunteers - we utilize an efficient process to restore ecosystems. Our first step is to clean up any waste or garbage that might be present. Next, we remove any harmful invasive plants which offer little benefit to wildlife and outcompete native plants. We then plant native plants that we’ve grown from seed to bolster biodiversity. Finally, we monitor each site to keep them free from any new invasives.
What drives us forward? Our understanding that losing just one piece of the food chain can have devastating impacts on all wildlife. With a loss of over 80% of our planet’s monarch butterfly population in the past 20 years, our ecosystems need more protection than ever. As we reestablish native plants to restore degraded habitats, we create and enhance food sources for insects and wildlife to ensure their survival.
We’ve worked with volunteers to restore open meadows, historical landmarks, scenic ponds and lakes, and wetland sites which are critical to wildlife (pictured below). The abundance of flowers and wildlife at our restoration sites are compelling examples of the beauty showcased and experienced in the NJ Highlands!
Since 2013, our volunteers and team have removed over 105,000 invasive plants, planted 43,000 native plants, grown over 11,500 native plants from seed, and have collected and disposed of 553 contractor size trash bags of garbage from Ramapo Mountain State Forest!
We love hearing the success stories of our volunteers! After spending time in the field with RNP, volunteers have implemented the lessons they have learned; seeing results in their yards with native plants and wildlife visitors. The right plant selection can turn your garden into a beautiful haven for organisms like butterflies and songbirds for generations to come.
Eager to get more involved with Restore Native Plants? Make a difference by signing up to volunteer or donating at www.restorenativeplants.org. Give them a like on their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram.