Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve held its 18th Annual Land Ethics Symposium at Delaware Valley University on March 15, 2018. This symposium is an event dedicated to the sharing of best practices and new ideas to conserve our native landscape. The highlight of this event is the presentation of the Land Ethics Award, which honors the creative use of native plants in the landscape and ethical land management practices. Individuals, non-profit organizations, government agencies, community groups, and business professionals may be nominated for this prestigious award. According to Kelly Joslin, Bowman Hill’s Educational Coordinator, “the Preserve received an overwhelming number of submissions in 2018.”
This year, the judges selected the Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve Committee of New Britain Borough as the 2018 recipient of the Land Ethics Award. This all-volunteer Borough committee is responsible for the management and stewardship of the Borough’s 30-acre Nature Preserve located on Mathews Ave.
According to the press announcement released by Bowman’s, the committee’s work in the Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve “exemplifies what the Land Ethics Award seeks to celebrate” by demonstrating, “the creative use of native plantings to create a sustainable habitat for wildlife and a place for the public to learn about and enjoy nature.” The press release goes on to say that, “the combination of the use of native plants, volunteer involvement, the educational component as well as documented public and ecological impacts earned this project the top honor.”
The Nature Preserve Committee won this award based on the habitat restoration work it has carried out in the Nature Preserve over the past three years. In 2015, the Nature Preserve Committee wrote a Strategic Plan outlining the Committee’s stewardship goals and priorities for the Preserve, which can be found on their webpage.
Highlights of the Committee’s work over this three-year span include the following:
- The Preserve’s three meadows have been routinely maintained and enhanced with the installation of additional native plant species to improve them as pollinator habitats. Native, bird-friendly, understory trees and shrubs have been added to the borders surrounding these meadows.
- Key degraded sections of the Preserve have been cleared of multiflora rose and other invasive species and replanted with native trees and shrubs. A total of 261 trees and 113 shrubs have been planted in the Preserve over the past three years. Scores of existing trees within the Preserve have been freed from choking vines and hundreds of invasive plants have been removed from the Preserve.
- 30+ nesting boxes for species such as Bluebirds, Screech Owls, and Wood Ducks have been constructed and installed throughout the Preserve.
- The experience of visiting the Preserve has been improved through the addition of message boards, trail signs, trail improvements, additional benches, and the creation of another entrance to the Preserve on Landis Mill Road.
While the planning and much of the physical labor that lies behind the above achievements has been carried out by the eleven members of the Nature Preserve Committee, it should be noted that the Committee has also had the help of many other community and student volunteers on the six work days that it now holds each year. Community volunteers have included Borough residents and local Scouts. Student volunteers have come from the National Honor Societies of C.B. West and C. B. South High Schools, and the Key Club of C.B. West. Without the help of these enthusiastic volunteers, the Nature Preserve Committee couldn’t have reached these achievements and would not have won this award.