WEST MILFORD - The large deer population in New Jersey is forcing plants and animals that are native to the Garden State to disappear.

A new program is teaching New Jersey students how to change what conservationists call Empty Forest Syndrome. Students from New Jersey's urban areas are working with conservation groups at Apshawa Preserve in West Milford.

Conservationists say the large population of deer has made it so there is almost no regeneration of trees, shrubs or wildflowers.

An area has been fenced in to preserve the plants and deer are forced out to allow vegetation to grow. Three-hundred acres of land was fenced off to preserve forest space, but students are not stopping there.

Their six-week conservation program also teaches them how to build safer hiking trails, so forests can be explored more easily.