December 15, 2023 Newsletter


Photo by Chuan-Chu Chou

Warm Greetings from FOBP!

We wish you a very joyful holiday season and happy New Year!

2023 In Review

Dear Friends of Brightwood Park,

As we look back on the numerous projects and activities that the Friends of Brightwood Park undertook this year and are planning for 2024, I believe we should take a moment and recognize what has been accomplished and what lies ahead.  

Just 3 years ago, volunteers filled a dumpster with dumped waste left in the Park decades ago, and cut down eight-foot-high Japanese Knotweed, an invasive plant which had completely obscured any view of the Pond from the parking lot.

Fast forward to April of this year, and we began our third year of education programs for children, and history tours of the Park. In May, our first “Brightwood Park Day” attracted hundreds of visitors to the Park and we hosted our third “Art in the Park” art show. In June, the expanded Pollinator Garden by the parking lot started blooming and attracted countless pollinators, and the Black-eyed Susans we planted in February bloomed on the slope leading downhill toward the pond. In August-September, the Westfield Memorial Library hosted an exhibit of spectacular photography by Lloyd Marks and Chuan-Chu Chou. In October, we started a new project to “reforest” the Park by planting more than 160 new trees and bushes, and hundreds of family members enjoyed a beautiful Fall day at our third Jack-O-Lantern trail event.

We have not accomplished all of this on our own.  It is through a growing association of many organizations – our Town leaders, Recreation Commission, Recreation Department staff, Public Works, Westfield Green Team, Westfield Memorial Library, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, New Jersey Invasives Species Strike Team, Rutgers Master Gardeners, Westfield Historical Society, Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Westfield, Westfield Garden Club, Rake and Hoe Club, Lifelong Westfield, the Tree Preservation Commission, Rotary Club, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Westfield Parks Invasive Plants strike team, and local school organizations – that have guided and assisted us in our efforts.  A big thank you to all who have volunteered these past 3 years.

2024 will be filled with all of these activities, projects, and more, so rest up over the Winter and prepare for another busy year preserving and restoring the beauty of Brightwood Park. 

Rob Lombard, President

FOBP Membership


Thank you for being a FOBP member!  FOBP is a grass roots volunteer run group focused on restoring and promoting Westfield's nature preserve through educational programs.  

FOBP has two levels of membership including general members who keep apprised of our activities through a quarterly newsletter and sustaining members who support our efforts with an annual contribution of $25.  These funds go towards our annual operating expenses.

Sustaining members are invited to an annual meeting to elect directors and discuss priorities and initiatives under consideration.  For those who have made a $25 donation by December 31, 2023, the annual meeting will be on January 27, 2024.  If you would like to be a sustaining member but are not sure if you have made a donation yet this calendar year, email us. 

FOBP is powered by your support at whatever level is right for you.  We invite you to join us on any of our projects and events.  

FOBP is an IRC 501(c)(3) charitable/educational organization.  Donations are tax deductible.


Winter Wonderland snowballs?

FOBP's Education Committee just completed its 3rd year of programming on November 30!  Our team of volunteers has enriched the lives of all ages.  With classes for children 2 through 8, walks with Lifelong Westfield, programs for elementary schools, and special events such as Brightwood Park Day and Halloween Tree Trunk or Treat, FOBP has fostered an appreciation for Brightwood Park, educated about nature, and encouraged stewardship of our environment.

Coming in 2024:

March 2  Read Across America  

Classes for children aged 2 through 8  Classes will be held on the third Thursday of the month from March through November except for August.  

May 4 Brightwood Park Day Come enjoy all that Brightwood has to offer!  Pick up your native plant purchases from the Great Swamp Watershed Association.  Enjoy birding and forest bathing.  Rumor has it that fairies may be coming back for this special event.

4th Annual Halloween Trunk or Treat  date to be announced.

Please check with the Westfield Recreation Department for updates on these programs as the dates draw closer.  Registration will be available through the Recreation Department website.

Join our committee of passionate and fun people and help us plan and run our programs.   If you would like to help, email us!

FOBP Reforestation Efforts


With approval from the Westfield Recreation Commission, this Fall, FOBP planted 160 trees and shrubs around the Prospect Street entrance, parking lot, and trail start.  

Why Does Brightwood Park Need Restoration Efforts?

Just three years ago, Brightwood Park’s forest was facing significant challenges due to the proliferation of invasive plant species.  Over the past three years, volunteers with the Westfield Parks Invasive Plants strike force have diligently retaken the forest.  

With the diminished threat from non-native invasive plants, there has been a resurgence of native plants including jack-in-the pulpits, pokeweed, white snakeroot, burnweed, dogbane, milkweed, and Wild Sarsaparilla in the park.  Black-eyed Susan and other pollinator plants have popped up from seeds spread though other FOBP initiatives.  

While this is a good sign, a key indicator of a healthy forest is a mix of saplings and trees of different sizes and age. Eagle Scout Adrian Gripp’s sapling survey showed that, throughout the forest, there was a dearth of saplings to ensure continued forest vitality.  

Another indicator of a healthy forest is a biodiverse habitat.  Biodiversity requires a variety of habitats and food such as old growth trees, downed logs, shrubs, and flowering meadows.   

With these indicators in mind and with town approval, FOBP has implemented a phase of forest restoration.  The trees and shrubs chosen will help prevent repopulation of invasive plants, protect against erosion of the hillsides, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. We hope to continue these efforts in the future.  

You can find more information about the native plants that have been planted here.  If you would like to help on our projects, let us know.​​

Berries and Birds

Photo by Chuan-Chu Chou

According to a recent Washington Post article, birds need native berries! As birds prepare to migrate or to hunker down in the cold, they need to bulk up.  Berries are a primary source of fuel for birds to bulk up!  Birds need fat stores on their chests and under their wings to help them migrate or weather the cold.

Unfortunately not all berries provide the same nutritional value.  Native birds need native plant berries.  Dogwood, spicebush, native viburnums, pokeweed, and Virginia creeper all give birds the fat and calories they need.  Non-native plant berries such as porcelain berry, bush honeysuckle and multiflora rose have high water content that dilutes their nutritional value.

The take-away to help our feathered friends, PLANT NATIVE!!

Read more here.  

Growing Plants From Seed

Cold stratification in pots!

As the days have grown shorter and the temperatures have fallen, most plants have become dormant. The vivid colors of fall haven given way to subtle hues of brown and grey. Winter is the season when we can admire the graceful yet sturdy structures of seed heads or bright pop of color of berries in our gardens, parks, and landscapes. They are an important food source for birds during this sparse time. And they harbor the new generation of plants for the next growing season! 

Most plants that are indigenous to New Jersey will only start developing if their seeds were exposed to freezing and wet conditions. This process is called cold stratification. So, if you are looking to add some native plants to your garden, pick up some seeds at Westfield's Native Seed Library. Pick some that match the growing conditions of the area where you would like to grow them.

Seeds can be sown directly in a bare spot in your garden, in pots that are protected from hungry critters , or in reused 1-gallon jug turned into a solar greenhouse. Don't forget to label the seeds!

Establishing plants from seed is a fun and cost-effective way to diversify your garden - just be patient, as most plants will only bloom in their second year.


FOBP Store


If you are looking for a special gift... Shop FOBP! ​ Our popular caps in both children's and adult sizes, t-shirts, and totes can be delivered to your door!  




Though coyotes have been in the area for many years, they have been more visible in Brightwood Park this year.  Did you know that our coyote may be more appropriately called a coywolf?  Read more here.