A botanical survey of New Garden Township was conducted in 2010 by Janet Ebert and Jack Holt, as authorized by the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors and with the recommendation and oversight of the Open Space Review Board. The Township was divided into twenty-one sections to facilitate the survey and to ascertain species abundance and distribution. The survey was performed by recording all plant species observed (with habitat notes for higher-quality areas) while walking roadsides, public lands, and private property of willing landowners. Special attention was given to rare plants, Exceptional Natural Areas (areas of relatively intact species-rich and native plant dominated communities), and invasive aliens.
The survey found that the Township still possesses considerable botanical richness, with at least 493 species of native plants, including 10 listed by the state as rare, threatened, or endangered. Fourteen Exceptional Natural Areas (ENAs) were determined, including dry banks and meadows, wetlands and wet meadow complexes, floodplain wet woods, and rich to dry woods. However this richness is threatened by habitat loss from land development, an overabundance of deer, and numerous invasive aliens.
In order to retain the Township‘s remaining botanical diversity the following steps are recommended:
Habitat Loss. Few of the Exceptional Natural Areas are protected from disturbance or development. The Township should give priority toward protecting the remaining mapped ENAs, together with buffers and/or connectors between ENAs. The areas of greatest concern are the airport, the Cockeysville corridor, and the White Clay Creek Valley. The Township should also prioritize the protection of any forests present in 1956, as even fragmented remnants of these older woodlands generally retain a fair amount of native diversity compared to those grown up since that date.
Deer. The Township should coordinate (at a minimum) a township-wide management program to reduce the deer population, encouraging all landowners to participate. Efforts should also be made to coordinate this program with those of neighboring municipalities to make herd reduction regional.
Invasive Aliens. The Township should try to educate residents about the identification and control of invasive aliens and to manage natural areas to favor native species. Control of invasives could involve research programs by local universities and community volunteers.
Education. Education is an extremely important component of protecting the Township‘s natural resources. Residents are the stewards of these resources, and they need to be aware of how their actions influence the resources, and what they can do to preserve them for the future.