11/25/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 48
New Jerseyans love parks and open lands, as demonstrated by their steady support for more than a dozen land preservation ballot questions over the past 50 years.
Nowhere is this passion more evident than in Gloucester County, where a grassroots citizens group worked tirelessly for nearly eight years to turn a defunct golf course targeted for housing into a new nature preserve.
There were nonstop hurdles – money being the largest - but the citizens were persistent, . . .
11/20/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 47
For most families, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey. Or cranberries!
Whether you like canned jellied cranberries or fresh chopped relish, tart cranberries can make or break a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It’s likely that cranberries have been part of Thanksgiving meals since 1621, when Native Americans first shared their harvest feast with newly-arrived Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass.
Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North . . .
11/13/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 46
After a day of family and feasting on Thanksgiving, what will you do the next day?
You could join the ever-escalating Black Friday shopping madness: malls at midnight, crowds stampeding for bargains and plenty of traffic.
Or you could join a healthier tradition and use Black Friday to burn off calories and brighten up your senses with outdoor exercise!
Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, the outdoor equipment and apparel giant, shocked the retail world . . .
11/6/2015 RELEASE: Nov. 6, 2015 - Volume XLVIII, No. 45
Apples or oranges? Giants or Eagles? Subs or hoagies? Can New Jerseyans agree on anything? Apparently yes!
When residents are asked about energy, they’re almost unanimous on one point: this state we’re in needs to shift its focus to renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
In a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll commissioned by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, an overwhelming 93 percent of voters believe that investing in clean/renewable . . .
10/30/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 44
“Love thy neighbor” is not a new concept. But who qualifies as a neighbor when development proposals are reviewed? Is it folks living on the same street? In the same town? Or in a larger region that might include other states?
An appeals court brought clarity to this question on Oct. 21, ruling that New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law requires towns to consider people beyond their borders as neighbors when making land use decisions.
The court addressed a . . .
10/23/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 43
Bats are just about the most misunderstood creatures on the planet, often thought to be creepy, spooky or dangerous. “They want to suck your blood, they’ll fly into your hair and they spread disease” are just a few common myths.
No wonder bats are a staple of scary Halloween lore, costumes and decorations!
In truth, bats are one of the most helpful of species, gobbling thousands of insects a night and reducing our need for chemical insecticides. A nursing . . .
10/16/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 42
Newark - New Jersey’s largest city – is getting national attention for converting an old industrial site along the Passaic River into a public park. It’s a smart move that gives thousands of residents a great place to walk, relax, play and meet their neighbors.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave Newark a “National Award for Smart Growth Achievement” for turning 16 acres of previously contaminated land into Riverfront Park, providing . . .
10/12/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 41
You might think you can only see spectacular fall foliage in New England. Think again!
Right here in this state we’re in, you can see vivid reds, oranges and golds at their peak in mid to late October, with leaves changing color first on mountaintops and along water.
And one of the best ways to enjoy the fall is with a hike. Here are some favorite places – all top choices of New Jersey Conservation Foundation staff. Northern New Jersey’s mountains . . .
10/2/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 40
As they alight on seaside goldenrod flowers or roost in Eastern red cedars, monarch butterflies are unmistakable, with their brilliant orange and black patterned wings.
Although their flight may seem meandering and subject to the vagaries of wind, monarchs are on an instinct-driven mission right now. These “ultra-marathoners” migrate over 2,000 miles to the forests of central Mexico. They hold the distance record among migrating insects, and their journey is one of the . . .
9/29/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 39
Eminent domain, or condemnation, is the power of the government to take private land for public purpose, even if the property owner objects. Needless to say, it’s a highly unpopular use of government authority. Nobody likes being forced to sell against their will, even if fair compensation is paid.
But did you know that private, for-profit companies can also use the power of eminent domain?
This could happen in Hunterdon and Mercer counties, if a consortium of companies . . .
9/18/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 38
You’re in bed when suddenly the nighttime quiet is broken by a clamor of howls and yips. Or maybe you spot what looks like a stray shepherd-mix dog in your yard.
They may be Eastern coyotes, wild relatives of domesticated dogs. Coyotes are now regularly seen even in New Jersey’s not-so-wild places.
According to Andrew Burnett, a principal biologist for the state Division of Fish & Wildlife, there are an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 coyotes living in New . . .
9/11/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 37
Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the New Jersey shore, the state is in the final phase of a massive project to rebuild Route 35, the main artery on the barrier island in northern Ocean County.
As part of the project – which was actually in the planning stages prior to Sandy – the New Jersey Department of Transportation constructed an elaborate drainage system to keep Route 35 high and dry during heavy rains. Nine new pumps were installed to move stormwater . . .
9/3/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 36
Want to do something nice for your brain? You could eat fish, the reputed “brain food,” or try problem-solving, mend-bending exercises and puzzles.
Or you could step into a quiet green space and give your mind a mini-break.
A growing body of evidence suggests that one of the things you can do for your brain is visiting a park or natural environment. It’s soothing and may even help you function more efficiently at work!
Gregory Bratman, a graduate . . .
8/28/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 35
How far would you go to raise awareness of an issue? For paddler and clean water crusader Margo Pellegrino of Medford Lakes, the answer is thousands of miles!
This summer, Margo spent two months in her outrigger canoe, paddling 1,600 miles from Newark to Chicago via inland waterways. The journey took her up the Hudson River, through the locks of the Erie Canal and along the shores of the Great Lakes.
She launched in unseasonably chilly weather on May 20 and finished up in the . . .
8/21/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 34
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Appalachian Trail, Camden Waterfront Park, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Branch Brook Park, Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch, Spruce Run and Round Valley recreation areas, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Island Beach State Park, Paterson’s Great Falls national historic site, Monmouth Battlefield, Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area.
What would New Jersey be without these popular parks, beaches, monuments, . . .
8/14/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 33
At 125,000 acres, Wharton State Forest in the Pine Barrens is by far the largest state-owned forest in New Jersey. In fact, it’s bigger than the land area of Essex and Hudson counties combined!
This sprawling forest in the heart of the Pine Barrens is notable for its diversity of wildlife, including rare plants and threatened and endangered animals like Pine Barrens treefrogs. Since Wharton was purchased in the mid-1950s, motorized vehicles have been allowed to travel its . . .
8/7/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 32
For the first time in four years New Jersey is updating its Energy Master Plan, a blueprint for how this state we’re in uses and manages electricity. And unless you live “off the grid,” it affects you.
This month, the state Board of Public Utilities is holding public hearings and accepting public comments for updates to the 2011 Energy Master Plan. Here’s your chance to weigh in on key issues like where our energy comes from, how efficiently we’re using . . .
7/31/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 31
During hot summer days at the Jersey shore, beaches are crowded with folks having fun in the sun. Unfortunately, lots of litter is left behind. All beach trash is bad, but the plastics that wash and blow into the sea are especially harmful.
Plastics have become a major threat to marine life in the world’s oceans and waterways. Plastic trash never completely goes away … it only breaks apart into smaller and smaller pieces.
It’s estimated that more than . . .
7/24/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 30
What’s more fun than standing in a chilly downpour at night in March, filming volunteers as they help salamanders cross Shades of Death Road?
For Jared Flesher, not much!
An independent documentary filmmaker and New Jersey native, Jared revels in being outdoors and telling stories about nature, animals’ struggles for survival, and human efforts to help.
And he doesn’t mind getting soaked to document the lengths volunteers go to make sure salamanders . . .
7/17/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 29
“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all,” wrote Pope Francis in his recent encyclical, or papal letter.
The Pope’s letter focused international attention on climate change, and he called on developed countries to limit use of non-renewable energy and help poorer nations deal with the impacts of global warming. A “very solid scientific consensus,” he wrote, indicates a warming of the climate mainly due to human activity.
P . . .
7/9/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 28
If you were asked to name a maritime state, New Jersey might not come to mind. But if you’ve cruised on New Jersey’s official state ship – the A. J. Meerwald –you know otherwise!
This summer, you might have spotted the 70 feet high and 85 feet long oak-on-oak schooner as it sailed along New Jersey’s coast for the Tall Ships Challenge, an event with several ports of call. On June 25th, it left from Bivalve on the Delaware Bay and . . .
7/2/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 27
Summer is time to be outdoors … hiking, swimming, bicycling, fishing, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, birding, surfing and more.
Whether you’re at the shore, on a mountain, by a river or in the forest – or stuck inside WISHING you were outdoors – a soundtrack can come in handy.
Here’s a playlist of songs about nature and the outdoors to inspire you, pump you up or put a smile on your face.
For inspiration to get out and enjoy sun . . .
6/25/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 26
Must we choose between strong environmental protections and a robust economy? No – it’s possible to have both! And here’s proof.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Scenic Hudson, the Natural Resources Defense Council and many partners reached an historic agreement with LG Electronics on a new 360,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs that will meet the highest standards of sustainability while protecting the iconic vistas of the Palisades . . .
6/19/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 25
Hang out by a pond or marsh on a warm summer day, and you’re almost guaranteed to see dragonflies. With colorful needle-shaped bodies and a double set of wings, they’re fun to watch as they hover, swoop and dart, sometimes at blink-of-the-eye speeds.
They’re actually hunting … and very effectively!
Dragonflies don’t bite or sting, but their fierce name is well-deserved. They’re voracious predators, with bodies uniquely equipped to outrun . . .
6/11/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 24
If you don’t want to leave your dog home when you head out for a hike this summer, here are some great ideas! Hiking is always more fun with a furry companion at your side, and dogs need fresh air and exercise just as much as we do.
Before you hit the trail, you must prepare. Mary Jasch, author of “Best Hikes with Dogs: New Jersey,” offers these tips:
Make sure your dog is trained to behave when faced with other hikers, dogs, wildlife, or strange . . .
6/4/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 23
You’ve probably heard about Mary Lee the great white shark. This 16-foot shark recently became a Twitter sensation – with over 70,000 followers – as a result of news stories and satellite technology that can track her whereabouts in real time.
And Mary Lee gets around! In the past month she’s been up and down the East Coast from Long Island to Virginia Beach. Her fans – and those who would prefer to avoid her – are using online tracking to find out . . .
5/29/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 22
The noise and pollution from lawnmowers and weed-whackers may be an icon of summer in New Jersey, but not for Hazel England and Emile DeVito. They don’t have much grass to mow, because they have little traditional lawn.
Instead of spending money on herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, gasoline, water and fertilizer to grow a carpet of cool-season grass in a hot, humid climate, Hazel and Emile – professional biologists for Great Swamp Watershed Association and New Jersey . . .
5/22/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 21
New Jersey is 170 miles long from High Point to Cape May, and about 70 miles wide at its middle. But the Garden State’s perimeter is hard to measure, due to many rivers, bays, estuaries and marshes.
But that isn’t stopping Mike Helbing from logging every mile.
Mike wants to be the first person to literally walk around New Jersey, and it’s proving to be a long, complicated journey … about 1,200 miles and counting! If all goes according to plans, . . .
5/15/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 20
It’s hard to overstate the value of healthy soil on a planet whose population is 7.3 billion people … and counting.
Topsoil is the rich upper layer of soil where most nutrients and organic materials are found. The vegetables and fruits we eat – and the green pastures and grazing lands for cattle, dairy herds and other animals – would not exist without it.
You may have seen signs and bumper stickers proclaiming, “No farms, no food.” . . .
5/8/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 19
Ever heard of the miracle drug called “Fiterex”? It cures depression, obesity, heart disease and diabetes – with absolutely no side effects.
Dr. William Bird stunned the crowd when he spoke about Fiterex at a British medical conference on potential new drugs and side effects. His fellow physicians inquired: Was Fiterex approved for use? When would it be available to patients?
Dr. Bird responded that this wonder drug was already available. Fiterex, he . . .
5/1/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 18
After a long winter of garden dreams fueled by seed catalogs, this is the moment Garden State gardeners have been waiting for: the weather is finally warm enough to plunge hands in dirt and do some serious planting!
If you’ve never gardened but have always wanted to grow your own healthy food, there’s no better time than now to dig in!
There’s no question that veggies, fruits and herbs taste their most delicious when just picked. And if you ask any home . . .
4/24/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 17
What makes a community healthy – or not? And how can a community with significant health challenges improve? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spends a lot of time thinking about these questions.
Every year for the past six years, the New Jersey-based foundation has compiled its “County Health Rankings,” an incredibly detailed report with health snapshots of every county in the United States.
The rankings are based on a wide variety of factors affecting the . . .
4/17/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 16
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” declared Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived nearly 2,500 years ago and is considered the father of modern medicine.
If Hippocrates were to visit present day America, he’d surely be dazzled by our array of medical advances and astounded at our immense variety of foods. But after seeing how many diseases are caused by poor diets, he’d probably be more convinced than ever about food being medicine.
. . .
4/10/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 15
Believe it or not, our woods, fields, meadows, lawns and gardens are finally greening up, and it’s time for New Jersey’s “hibernators” to stretch their legs and get outdoors again!
There’s no better – or more economical – path to health and fitness than getting out on New Jersey’s trails. In addition to building muscles and improving heart health, a walk, run or bike ride in nature lifts depression and boosts feelings of well-being.
. . .
4/3/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 14
Ever seen “plastic soup” on a restaurant menu or store shelf? Let’s hope not!
Plastic soup is the decidedly unappetizing term for plastic pollution in our waters. You wouldn’t deliberately consume plastic soup … but you may already be without knowing it.
How? Tiny, non-biodegradable plastic particles known as microbeads have become insidious and invisible polluters of our waters.
The size of a grain of sand – and often much smaller . . .
3/27/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 13
Here in America’s most densely populated metropolitan area, it’s hard to believe there are still new animal species being discovered!
But thanks to modern technology and the work of Rutgers University doctoral student Jeremy Feinberg, the existence of a previously unidentified species of leopard frog was confirmed last fall.
This thumb-sized amphibian, the Atlantic Coast leopard frog, lives in the swamps and marshes of eight East Coast states, including New . . .
3/19/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 12
Addressing a crowd of more than 350 people gathered in Trenton, Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Chivian asked a question: How many people have had Lyme disease or know someone who had it?
Almost every hand shot up. This shouldn’t surprise most folks who live in New Jersey.
But why? Dr. Chivian, a Harvard professor and New Jersey native, offered a theory: Reduced vertebrate diversity, caused at least in part by climate change, promotes the disease’s spread.
He . . .
3/13/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 11
March 22 is World Water Day, a global reminder about water’s fundamental support of life.
Clean and abundant water doesn’t happen by itself, which is why the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 established the first World Water Day. Every year, World Water Day shines a spotlight on a particular aspect of water supply and protection.
This year’s theme is “Water and Sustainable Development,” which is especially appropriate for New Jersey. This . . .
3/5/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 10
Among New Jersey’s native wild animals, few are more shy and elusive than bobcats. Even wildlife biologists who are constantly searching for these magnificent cats consider themselves lucky to see one.
“It’s just a flash that quickly disappears,” said Gretchen Fowles, a biologist with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species program, and head of a project to track the state’s bobcat population. “They’re . . .
2/27/2015 Volume XLVIII, No. 9
The transformation of the Hackensack Meadowlands over the past 45 years – from a polluted dumping ground and butt of countless jokes to a birdwatcher’s paradise, eco-tourism destination and top-flight sports complex – is a Jersey miracle.
It didn’t happen by chance. It was planned. A regional planning commission was established in 1969 to oversee land use in the 30-square-mile Meadowlands area of Hudson and Bergen counties.
The New Jersey Meadowlands . . .