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Drexel Students Study Environment on Gunnery Range

May 30, 2012


Mavericks at Gunnery Range

Photo Credit: Burlington County Times

A military combat training base may seem like an unlikely venue for environmental research, but that’s precisely where Drexel biologist Dr. Walter Bien has set up shop. Beyond the runways, control towers and air-to-ground weaponry of the Warren Grove Gunnery Range in Burlington County, NJ, there are over 9000 acres of pristine wilderness, uninhabited by humans. The expansive buffer zone is the perfect location to study plants and animals in their natural habitat—a project Bien has been part of for more than a decade.

The military invited Bien and his students to the gunnery back in 2000 as part of the Sikes Act. Under the federal mandate, military sites are required to orchestrate wildlife conservation efforts, while effectively maintaining the environment in the surrounding areas. The mutually beneficial relationship has allowed the military to save money hiring expensive contractors, while giving Bien and his students access to one of the rarest ecosystems in the region.

Warren Grove is situated in the heart of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, a diverse and densely wooded National Reserve located on over one million acres of dry, sandy soil. Bien and his students have studied 32 endangered or threatened species thus far at Warren Grove, and are currently working on a project to keep snakes off of local roadways.

The work of Bien and his students was recently published in the Burlington County Times.

Bien is a research professor of biology and director of Drexel’s Laboratory of Pinelands Research. For more information on Bien or the Pinelands, please visit his research page.