In the Sourlands: Make a Stewardship Resolution for 2017

Habitat Restoration Work by Sourland Stewards.

By Caroline Katmann

At the beginning of this new year, consider making a resolution that will benefit the Sourlands as well as our country and our planet – resolve to be a good steward of the land where you live.

It seems unlikely that during the next four years there will be any pro-environment initiatives coming from federal agencies. Indeed, there are signs that we may actually move backwards from gains we have achieved thus far in our country and globally. In addition to lending our support to environmental initiatives put forth by state, county and community organizations and agencies, we must look to ourselves to “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

More than ever, those of us who have chosen to make our homes in the ecologically sensitive Sourland region must recognize that we have a special responsibility to preserve and protect the Sourlands, both from outside threats and through the choices we make in our own everyday lives. In the end, if we are to save the Sourlands, we must look to ourselves.

The Sourland Conservancy has created a resource to help Sourland residents appreciate the natural wonders around us and to become better stewards of the land. The original “Living in the Sourlands: A Guide for Responsible Stewardship” was published in 2010. This publication is available on our website,

In 2016, the Conservancy revised its stewardship guide and will release the second edition of “Living in the Sourlands” early in 2017. This new edition contains updated stewardship recommendations, lots of new content and an even stronger emphasis on how human beings can reconnect with nature, work together to practice good stewardship and impact the Sourland landscape in positive ways. This new edition, partially funded by grants from the Watershed Institute, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, is also meant to support and enhance Sourland Stewards, the Sourland Conservancy’s stewardship program for residents.

Following is an excerpt from a new section in “Living in the Sourlands” entitled Helping the Herps, our Amphibian and Reptile Neighbors:

You might live your entire life in the Sourlands without ever seeing a spotted salamander, unless you go out walking on just the right night. You probably won’t be out walking on that night, though, because it will be cold and wet and dark. This is too bad, because spotted salamanders are spectacular neighbors – long, lithe amphibians in dusky purple with golden spots. If you do see one, it might seem a bit improbable, so big and colorful that it’s hard to
imagine it remains nearly invisible the rest of the year.

How You Can Help the Herps: 1. Drive with care. During March nights with precipitation, avoid driving or drive slowly on forested and rural roads, and watch the road for amphibians crossing. The Sourland Conservancy mailing list and the Sourland Stewards Facebook page post updates on likely migration nights. 2. Volunteer to chaperone. At hot spots for amphibian crossings in the Sourlands, volunteers and conservation professionals gather to help salamanders and frogs make it across the road. You’ll witness a nature spectacle and save lives at the same time. Sign up info is at:

The Sourland Mountain region, like the Highlands and the Pine Barrens, is a true New Jersey treasure. In “Living in the Sourlands,” we offer many suggestions for helping preserve this unique and precious resource. We know that it is not possible for everyone to follow all the suggestions all the time, but we hope that the second edition of “Living in the Sourlands” will inspire a commitment and a sense of ownership in Sourland residents that will begin in their own backyards and spill over to the entire region!

Let us know your stewardship resolution for 2017. Send your resolution to We’ll post your resolution (without your name unless you give permission) on Facebook to give other residents good stewardship ideas and inspiration.

Best wishes from the Sourland Conservancy for good stewardship in the New Year!

Caroline Katmann is the Executive Director of the Sourland Conservancy. The Conservancy’s mission is to protect, promote and preserve the unique character of the Sourland Mountain
region. To learn more about the release date for the second edition of Living in the Sourlands and for other Conservancy matters, sign up for the Sourland Conservancy’s  e-newsletter at