Dr. Sara Webb Honored for Drew Forest Restoration
Madison, NJ – May 5, 2022 – The Drew University Forest Preserve, 53 intact acres with some of the oldest trees in Morris County, owes its great biodiversity to 14 years of volunteer work—and the dedication of Dr. Sara Webb, who was recently awarded the Morris Park Alliance’s Individual Environment/Conservation Award.
Dr. Webb, Professor Emerita of Biology and Environmental Studies at Drew University, is a forest ecologist who is active in research and forest conservation across the state. For many years, she has rallied hundreds of students and community volunteers to help restore diversity, young trees, and pollinators to the Drew Forest. That has meant pulling out invasive plants like tree-choking Chinese wisteria, as well as seeking grants to fund deer fencing and plant native wildflowers and native trees.
“I am honored to receive this award,” said Dr. Webb. “But truly it goes to the hundreds of students who’ve studied with me in the Forest and all who have volunteered to make it what it is today.”
“The Borough was proud to nominate Dr. Webb for this prestigious and well deserved recognition,” said Mayor Robert H. Conley. “Her continuous effort to go above and beyond to preserve the Hepburn Woods and the Zuck Arboretum within the Drew Forest, as well as laying out the environmental benefits of the forest and its Buried Valley Aquifer to Madison and surrounding communities deserved this recognition,” continued Conley.
Assemblywoman Aura K. Dunn presented Dr. Webb with an additional award from the New Jersey State Legislature. Dunn praised Webb and the Morris Parks Alliance, saying, “It is a privilege and honor to represent Morris County in the New Jersey Legislature. The beautiful and variegated natural resources that make up its environment and our strong tradition in ecological conservation, makes us the garden of the Garden State. Over three million people visit Morris County parks and trails, which is New Jersey’s largest park system.”
The Drew Forest Preserve is a regionally important element. Open to the public, it provides walking trails and a thriving, intact ecosystem. “It offers a rare glimpse of what New Jersey’s forests used to be like before deer depleted all undergrowth except for invasive species,” said Joe Basralian, a board member of the Morris Parks Alliance, who introduced Dr. Sara Webb at the awards ceremony.
Basralian went on to detail the Forest’s significance to North Jersey. “With its glacial ponds and deep dells, the Forest is a primary aquifer recharge area for the Buried Valley Aquifer,” he noted. “Thirty towns get their drinking water from this same Aquifer.” Wildlife depend on the Forest as a corridor-connecting habitat in nearby public parks: Giralda Farms Preserve, Loantaka Brook Reservation and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
The Morris Park Alliance’s mission is to provide vital support to the Morris County park system ensuring residents have continued access to green open spaces, enrichment programs, and educational resources that foster personal and community wellness, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.