5/26/16 Volume XLIX, No. 20
The first Saturday in June is National Trails Day, a great day to celebrate trails across America. On June 4, how about celebrating by hiking, biking, horseback riding, dog walking, birdwatching, geocaching or enjoying nature on a trail?
According to the American Hiking Society, the United States has some 200,000 miles of trails. The idea of celebrating these trails – and transforming them from a collection of local pathways to true interconnected networks - evolved in the late . . .
5/19/16 Volume XLIX, No. 19
They educate children, cure diseases, preserve land, protect animals, clean up the environment, help people in crisis, promote the arts, and much, much more. They’re New Jersey’s non-profits … and many of them are struggling.
A new report by New Jersey’s Center for Non-Profits shows that for many charitable organizations, revenues are not keeping pace with rising expenses and demand for services.
A survey of more than 300 New Jersey non-profits found . . .
5/12/16 Volume XLIX, No. 18
The best way to experience nature and the outdoors is in person … in parks, forests, meadows, mountains, rivers, oceans and far-away lands. But perhaps the next best way is through films.
Luckily, movies live on forever in today’s world, no longer limited by brief runs at theaters. Just about every film ever made can be found online, only a click or two away.
So whether you like long-distance hiking, fishing in pristine trout streams, close encounters with . . .
5/5/16 Volume XLIX, No. 17
For more than 50 years, New Jerseyans have steadily and enthusiastically supported open space preservation. Every one of the 13 land preservation funding ballot questions since 1962 was approved by the voters, in good economic times and bad.
Most recently, in 2014, voters took the unprecedented step of creating a permanent, stable source of preservation funding. Sixty-five percent voted “yes” on a constitutional amendment dedicating a portion of New Jersey’s . . .
4/28/16 Volume XLIX, No. 16
As you may have heard, an invasive insect known as the Emerald Ash Borer is wiping out ash trees, one of New Jersey’s most beautiful and common native trees.
There seems to be no stopping the spread of these tiny winged insects, whose larvae tunnel through tree bark and eat the tender wood inside. Robbed of water and nutrients, infected ash trees die within two to four years.
But there’s still hope for future generations.
That hope is contained in seed . . .
4/22/16 Volume XLIX, No. 15
The Garden State may be renowned for tomatoes, corn, peppers, blueberries and more, but in contrast many of its urban areas are “food deserts” nearly devoid of fresh produce.
Food deserts are defined as geographic areas – often inner cities - where affordable and nutritious food is hard to find, especially for those without cars. According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture study, some 23.5 million people across the country lack access to a supermarket within . . .
4/15/16 Volume XLIX, No. 14
Steve Krakauer of Basking Ridge is on a mission of the most enjoyable kind: Visiting all of America’s national parks, from Acadia to Zion.
“I’ve hit 41 of the 59 so far,” said Steve, an avid outdoorsman who loves hiking, biking, sailing and nature photography.
Steve’s quest began about five years ago, when he met a fellow traveler at Big Bend National Park in Texas whose goal was to fill a “passport” of visits to every national park. . . .
4/8/16 Volume XLIX, No. 13
Spring is here, and garden centers are filled with a mind-boggling array of flowers, shrubs and trees. You are already envisioning how great your yard and garden will look.
But before you choose your plants, do your homework to make sure they’re “Jersey- Friendly.”
You may not realize this, but many garden center plants have been introduced from other continents and can be extremely harmful to our state’s native plants.
These “alien . . .
4/1/16 Volume XLIX, No. 12
New Jersey is not only the nation’s most densely populated state, but likely the most diverse. Name any nationality or ethnic group, and chances are this state we’re in has an established community.
Density and diversity are two big reasons Ben Spinelli is optimistic about the future of farming in the Garden State.
“Our markets are like nowhere else in the world,” said Spinelli, a consultant on agricultural issues, at the New Jersey Land Conservation . . .
3/25/16 Volume XLIX, No. 11
Have you spotted a bald eagle lately? Seen a bobcat at the edge of the woods? Caught a glimpse of a peregrine falcon, bog turtle, corn snake, blue-spotted salamander or southern gray tree frog?
If you’ve seen these or dozens of other rare and endangered animals, the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program wants to know.
With warmer weather arriving and people spending more time outdoors, the state is asking . . .
3/17/16 Volume XLIX, No. 10
If the Garden State were to gather together its official plants and animals, what an incredible assemblage it would be!
Eastern goldfinches flitting in the branches of a red oak tree, violets growing beneath and honeybees buzzing about. Blueberry bushes laden with ripe fruit, horses galloping in fields, and brook trout swimming in a freshwater stream. Nearby in the ocean, knobbed whelks.
The black swallowtail butterfly is a welcome a new addition.
Thanks to recent . . .
3/11/16 Volume XLIX, No. 9
Stanley Bielen grew up in the 1960s and early ‘70s in the Tremley Point neighborhood of Linden.
It was, in his words, a “wasteland” of refineries, tank yards, chemical plants and swamps. Yet, it was also his home, his playground - the only place he knew. He developed a lasting love of swamps.
Now a Hunterdon County resident, Stan recently wrote an essay that eloquently captures a sense of place and time, while expressing optimism for the future. Here are . . .
3/4/16 Volume XLIX, No. 8
Who’s afraid of the great outdoors?
Quite a few folks, it turns out. According to Juan Martinez of the Children & Nature Network, urban dwellers, minorities and members of the millennial generation are among those who may find nature intimidating.
“Often times, the outdoors is perceived as something you have to have knowledge and experience to access,” Juan explains.
If people aren’t aware of parks and nature preserves near them, or . . .
2/26/16 Volume XLIX, No. 8
Long before there were beaten footpaths and roads, people traveled by water. Native Americans and early settlers used New Jersey’s network of rivers, streams and creeks to travel from place to place. Over time, villages, farms and industry sprang up.
The waterways became not just transportation corridors, but rather destinations in their own right.
Henry David Thoreau may have been the first American writer to document what we now call eco-tourism. In his 1864 book . . .
2/19/16 Volume XLIX, No. 7
Steven Dondero, a Centenary College student with an interest in conservation, wanted to know: What books should I read to learn about the environment, nature and land conservation?
Students seeking extra reading should instantly get an A for effort! But Steven took it further by contacting members of the New Jersey Land Trust Network for recommendations and then creating an online book list for the public.
His 100+ title list includes everything from inspirational writing to . . .
2/12/16 Volume XLIX, No. 6
With a name like “Double Trouble,” you'd expect somebody’s up to no good.
But the opposite was true last weekend, when a large and enthusiastic group of volunteers lent a hand on a forestry project in Double Trouble State Park, in the Pine Barrens of Ocean County.
Pine seedlings had been planted in the mid-1990s to help the park recover from a severe wildfire. After 20 years, however, they had grown in so thickly and crowded together that the site was once . . .
2/5/16 Volume XLIX, No. 5
Only 15 miles from downtown Manhattan, New Jersey’s newest national park – the Great Falls National Historic Park in the city of Paterson - is unique in its juxtaposition of stunning natural beauty with gritty industrial development.
Its most iconic view is of the roaring waters of the 77-foot Great Falls, framed by an arched iron bridge and historic redbrick mills once powered by the falls and the three-tiered raceway system. Great Falls is the east coast’s second . . .
1/29/16 Volume XLIX, No. 4
Chances are you’ve never heard of Donald Kirchhoffer, who passed away on January 10 at the age of 93.
Don was many things in his life, including a Navy torpedo man during World War II and a corporate human resources executive at RCA for nearly three decades.
But his love of the land – especially the Pine Barrens, the place he called home for many years –led Don to a vital second career as a conservation advocate.
While many people settle into a . . .
1/22/16 Volume XLIX, No. 3
Whether the real estate market goes up or down, open land remains a hot commodity in Garlic Grove, Cauliflower Corner, Tomatoville and Rutabaga Ridge.
These are but a few of the “neighborhoods” in the huge community garden at Duke Farms in Hillsborough. At 462 plots, it’s the nation’s largest allotment-style community garden … and almost a town unto itself!
Duke Farms announced in early January that it was opening up plots in its community . . .
1/15/16 Volume XLIX, No. 2
The New Jersey Legislature’s “lame duck” session ended on Jan. 11 with a mixed bag of gains and losses for the environment and conservation.
Steps forward: Legislators blocked rule changes that would have rolled back the state’s water quality and flood control protections. The new rules were proposed last summer, ostensibly to streamline unwieldy state regulations. But it quickly became clear that they would go far beyond that and would weaken . . .
1/8/16 Volume XLIX, No. 1
Why would you use less energy? To save money? To simplify your life? To reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
These are all good reasons, and they all go hand-in-hand.
Energy efficiency and conservation, along with a shift to clean sources of energy, is one of the most important issues facing us today.
Many states are embracing energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. For example, the Maryland Public Service Commission . . .
12/29/15 Volume XLVIII, No. 53
Many seasonal visitors come to New Jersey’s beaches and bays, but few are more fascinating than the seals that migrate here from points north when the weather turns cold.
Atlantic harbor seals, as well as harp, gray and hooded seals, hang out along New Jersey’s shorelines in winter. They travel from as far away as the Arctic, following food like herring, mackerel, squid and winter flounder.
Foraging for food is hard work, and even with their waterproof fur and . . .
12/22/15 Volume XLVIII, No. 52
‘Tis the season to look back on the past year and find out who’s been naughty and nice. So let’s make a list and check it twice to see how New Jersey’s environment fared in 2015.
First, the “nice.”
At the top are the many partnerships that resulted in preserved open space and farmland all over the Garden State. Thousands of acres were saved in 2015 when federal, state, county and municipal agencies worked together with nonprofits and . . .
12/18/15 Volume XLVIII, No. 51
Liberty State Park is unique in the state park system: a huge “green oasis” amid the offices and industry of the urban Hudson River waterfront, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Well-loved public parks like Liberty are the mark of a civilized society and add enormous economic and environmental values to our communities.
But right now, a debate is raging over a proposal by the New Jersey Department of . . .
12/11/15 Volume XLVIII, No. 50
New heat records. Rising sea levels. Ocean acidification.
There has been lots of news coming out of the climate summit in Paris these past two weeks. And lots of good news, too, when it comes to transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy sources like solar and wind, and increasing energy efficiency.
Many experts now believe that 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible in the future … if our political and business leaders make the commitment and the . . .
12/4/15 Volume XLVIII, No. 49
With age comes wisdom. And with “Wisdom” comes age!
“Wisdom” is a female Laysan albatross, who at 64 holds the record as the world’s oldest known living wild bird. And she’s laying eggs, too!
A volunteer at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - located in the central Pacific Ocean, about 1,300 miles northwest of Hawaii - spotted Wisdom shortly before Thanksgiving as she preened with her mate in the world’s largest nesting . . .
11/25/15 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, . . .
11/20/15 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 . . .
11/13/15 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 . . .
11/6/15 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 . . .
10/30/15 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 . . .
10/23/15 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 . . .
10/16/15 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 . . .
10/12/15 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 . . .
10/2/15 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 . . .
9/29/15 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 . . .
9/18/15 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 . . .
9/11/15 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 . . .
9/3/15 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 . . .
8/28/15 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 . . .