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HOPEWELLS: Every Day is Earth Day when it comes to caring for the Sourlands 

To the editor: 
The Sourland Conservancy applauds the efforts of the many volunteers who rolled up their sleeves, cleared trails, planted trees and cleaned up the Sourland streams last week in celebration of Earth Day.
Stewardship is one of our organization’s key objectives for achieving meaningful regional impact. The Sourland Conservancy focuses our work within the 90-square-mile Sourland Mountain region — the largest contiguous forest in the center of the most densely populated state in the nation. As a small, hyperlocal nonprofit, our success relies on our members and volunteers who lead hikes, conduct research, maintain trails, advocate for the Sourlands, serve on committees, hold seminars and workshops, and more.
Our stewardship efforts encompass private and public properties. More than 130 Sourland Stewards nurture the natural environment in their own backyards — removing invasive plants and replacing them with natives; encouraging pollinators, birds and animals; and reducing stream pollution by limiting fertilizer and pesticide usage and stormwater runoff.
Our American Woodcock habitat restoration project in the Hopewell Borough Park, in partnership with Mercer County Park Commission, FoHVOS and NJ Fish and Wildlife, is an example of the implementation of stewardship practices on public land. Volunteers will remove invasive plants and replace them with native shrubs and trees to restore the natural ecosystem. The scale of the project and the dedication of the volunteers ensure the project’s success.
Deer overpopulation poses a real and ongoing threat to the survival of a healthy Sourland forest. The deer estimate after the latest count, conducted in March, is more than 100 deer per square mile – more than 10 times the sustainable level.
We are currently working with lawmakers to reduce the number of deer decimating the forest. Our Hunter Connection program, now in its third year, matches hunters and landowners to reduce the herd safely and provide food for the hungry.
Our partnerships enable us to accomplish amazing feats. So far this year, we have joined forces with organizations and municipalities, including the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, D&R Greenway, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the Raritan Headwaters Association, the Mercer County Parks Commission, the New Jersey Sierra Club, Hunters Helping the Hungry, the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Delaware Riverkeeper, NJDEP and Division of Fish and Wildlife, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Mercer County, Hillsborough, East Amwell, West Amwell, Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, and many more.
Join us! Working together, we can improve the health of our environment today and secure a vital Sourland forest for future generations. 
Joanna Fiori 
President, Board of Trustees 
Sourland Conservancy 
Hopewell 

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