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Community Cleanup Helps Wildlife and Brings Attention to a Camden Jewel

As part of their participation in New Jersey Audubon's Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), Covanta Energy (Covanta), partnered with the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) to perform a community cleanup at the mainland section of the Petty’s Island Preserve. This area, currently owned by the CCMUA, will ultimately be turned over to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, which was granted a conservation easement for the Petty’s Island Property, to be Bald Eagle along Delaware River (John Parke)part of Petty’s Island Preserve. A true habitat jewel in a highly developed urban area, the preserve property (both mainland and the island) provides an oasis for breeding, foraging and resting habitat for an amazing array of wildlife. In addition to a pair of Bald Eagles that nest there, the mix of wooded wetlands and tidal mudflats provides critical habitat for songbirds, waterfowl and raptors that migrate along the river corridor during the spring and fall. The area is also home to Boy scouts and CCMUA workers helping with cleanup (Victor Camporine)turtles, snakes, frogs, deer, beaver, fox and many other species of wildlife.

With the help of Pennsauken Boy Scout Troup 118, NJ Audubon staff, neighborhood residents, CCMUA staff and Covanta staff, garbage and large debris were collected along the Farragut Avenue section of the CCMUA property between 36th and 32nd streets. Covanta provided two 30-yard roll-off containers and by the end of the cleanup these containers were filled to the rim with garbage and debris. The material was then taken to the Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center, a waste to energy facility that has been serving Camden County since 1991. The facility runs three boilers and process approximately 1,050 tons of solid waste each day, producing a net output of 21 megawatts. Covanta acquired the Camden facility in August 2013 from Foster Wheeler, which was the designer, builder, owner and operator of the facility.

“As a vocal advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability, and an active member of the Camden community, Covanta is proud to partner with such esteemed, like-minded organizations as New Jersey Audubon, CCMUA and the Boy Scouts of America,” said Covanta Environmental Compliance Specialist Victor Camporine. “We are proud of our community and pleased that our combined commitment is making a difference.”

Scouts and NJ Audubon helping with Cleaup at Camden Site (John Parke)In addition to the mainland cleanup, the Partners for Petty’s Island, consisting of staff from NJ Audubon, Delaware River Keeper, Cooper River Watershed Association, US Fish and Wildlife Service, CITGO, CCMUA and Natural Lands Trust, coordinated the on-island Petty’s Island cleanup the same day. More than 30 participants turned out to help, collecting over 30 yards of garbage, debris and tires!

“Although at times it may seem that cleaning these areas only removes a tiny fraction of what is there, community cleanups like these are very important,” said John Parke, Project Stewardship Director for NJ Audubon. “As garbage degrades it releases chemicals into the environment. Those chemicals can take many years to break down and can impact our natural resources. Secondly, garbage in general is very harmful to wildlife. From becoming trapped or entangled in discarded materials to consuming objects perceived as food, garbage possesses both direct and indirect threat to wildlife and their environment. Animals that consume garbage are often malnourished simply because they're not eating the diet nature intends for them to eat,” added Parke. “Having clean open space builds community pride and we certainly hope that these cleanups here at the preserve inspired others in Camden and Pennsauken including the municipal government, schoolchildren, youth groups, neighborhood associations, local environmental groups, and individuals to come out, get involved and make this area a better place for people and wildlife.”

Enhancing Habitat Through Prescribed Fire

 

CRE RxB (1)As New Jersey Audubon’s Optics Sale settled down on Saturday, March 15th, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) geared up to give the Center for Research and Education (CRE) a little tender loving care. With favorable weather conditions and winds in the right direction, the NJFFS set a controlled fire, or prescribed burn, to the meadow behind the CRE building. As an effective and efficient management tool, a prescribed burn will provide several benefits to this small 1-acre field. Not only will this help maintain the area as an open habitat, it will also help reduce the risk of future wildfires, prevent the spread of plant disease and pests, recycle nutrients back into the soil, and promote plant CRE RxB (3)growth.

One of the biggest benefit prescribed fire can have to an ecosystem is its ability to set back natural succession and recycle nutrients back into the soil. This small oasis provides valuable resources to many plant and animal species that thrive in open habitats, including butterflies, birds, reptiles, and wildflowers. As the years pass, woody vegetation begins to creep in, altering the structure of the habitat. With a prescribed burn, we can help maintain the meadow and allow it to continue to provide resources to those unique species. This young forest habitat is currently very limited in New Jersey as the forests throughout the state are mostly middle-aged. Young forest habitat is essential for many rare and declining species and provides resources for species that might typically be found in more mature forests. The open conditions will also allow stewardship staff to get ahead of any pesky invasive plants that take advantage of the newly available resources created by the fire. As plants begin to emerge from the ground, the stewardship team will be hard at work, removing any non-native, invasive plants before they get a chance to establish themselves.

CRE RxBThe use of prescribed burning can also help reduce the amount of fuel (e.g. grasses, shrubs, and woody debris) that accumulates in a wild area, preventing the outbreak of larger, more destructive wildfire in the hot summer months. In order to perform a safe and controlled burn, the fire crew wet the edge of the field and set the grasses ablaze in such a way that it would essentially keep itself in check. By creating a barrier around the field and setting the outer edge of the meadow on fire, the flames would begin to move towards the field interior. Once the flames met in the middle, there was nothing left to fuel the fire, so the flames ceased. BecCRE RxB (2)ause the fuel was rapidly used up in this fire, the meadow will be safer and healthier come summer. 

As March comes to a close, many different plants will rise from the ashes with vigor and strength due to the increased sunlight and resources reaching to soil. The grasses and flowers will arrive just in time for spring and by summer’s end, the meadow will be lush and full of life. The staff at the CRE hopes to keep track of the progress the meadow makes with regular photos and we encourage anyone stopping by to explore, observe the birds and butterflies and even submit your bird sightings to eBird (http://ebird.org/content/nj/)!

NJ Audubon Receives Land Ethics Awards

On February 20, 2014 the New Jersey Audubon Stewardship Department received the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s Land Ethics Award, P3120001as well as the first ever, Lifetime Achievement Award. New Jersey Audubon’s Stewardship Department was DSC_0302recognized for the restoration and stewardship of habitat throughout New Jersey. The Land Ethics Award recognizes individuals, organizations, government agencies, community groups and business professionals who have made significant contributions to the promotion of native plants and have exhibited a strong land ethic while promoting sustainable designs that protect the environment. NJ Audubon Stewardship Project Director of GIS, and resident herptile expert, Gylla MacGregor as well as NJ Audubon’s Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Linda Haan accepted the award at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s Annual Land Ethics Symposium in Langhorne, PA.

One of many things we admire about the Stewardship Department is the synergy developed by its link with other organizations, especially large corporations that have the assets to make things happen.” said the 2014 Land Ethics Award Jury Committee.  “Their link to the NJ Audubon’s Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), an organization of 18 NJ companies promoting a common goal of environmental sustainability and responsibility, has been incredibly productive and resulted in major habitat restoration projects throughout the state. The effects of their work is far reaching and long lasting,” the Committee added.

New Jersey Audubon would like to express sincere gratitude and appreciation to Bowman’s Hill and the Land Ethics Award Jury for these awards. Recognition by the Bowman’s Hill Preserve is an honor especially given Bowman’s Hill’s leadership, and excellence in the conservation, promotion, and education of the use of native plants to provide the keystone elements for ecosystem restoration.

wild meadow wild bergamot and goldenrodUsing native plants to restore the landscape, or as a substitute for exotic ornamental plantings can help to reverse the trend of species loss. Because native plants are adapted to a local region, they tend to resist damage from freezing, drought, and common diseases, if planted in that same local area. Plating native vegetation also help to increase the local population of native plant species, helps diversify species genetics, and also provides numerous benefits such as specific associations of mycorrhizae with plants, invertebrates with woody debris, pollinators with flowers, and birds with structural and forage habitat that can only be rebuilt by planting native plants.

To learn more about the Land Ethics Award and other recipients visit - http://www.bhwp.org/education/Land-Ethics-Award.htm

NJA Helps with Creation of the Stahl Natural Area Friends Group and Call for Volunteers to Help Bedminster’s Herpetofauna

In anticipation of the habitat restoration work to be performed this year at the Stahl Natural Area section of River Road Park, New Jersey Audubon and the Township of Bedminster is pleased to announce the formation of the Friends of the Stahl Natural Area.  This Friends Group will provide support to the Township in order to implement projects based on input from Township officials and experts including, New Jersey Audubon, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and Montclair State University.

What is the Stahl Natural Area Friends Group?stahl poster

The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group will support, assist, and promote the mission or activities of the Stahl Natural Area section of River Road Park.  We are looking for motivated people, business and local organizations that understand, or want to understand, the value and benefits of the Stahl Natural Area as open space and the ecosystems therein  and share the common goal of improving and enhancing the value of the Stahl Area for both the public and wildlife. This group is not a government advisory group, but will be an important source of support and public comments.

What will The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group do?

The Stahl Natural Area Friends Group will be a constituency to promote the park to visitors through publications and special events.  It can lending expertise and knowledge to educational and interpretive programs and in some cases, the Stahl Natural Area Friends Group can provide volunteers to help improve, maintain and enhance the park experience for visitors and the species that live there.

Friends First Meeting and a Call for Volunteers to Help with Herpetofauna Road Crossing Survey – Saturday, March 15, 2014 @ 10 am- 12 PM   at Bedminster Town Hall located at 1 Miller Lane, Bedminster Township, NJ 07921

wood frog (PARKE  )The first order of business for the Friends Group is to solicit volunteers to assist with a herpetofauna Wood turtle April 2013(Parke)road crossing survey at the Stahl Natural Area.  What are herpetofauna? Herpetofauna is reptiles and amphibians, and the Stahl Natural Area has a lot of them!

As part of the habitat restoration work mandated by NJDEP at River Road park, Bedminster Township will be installing four amphibian and reptile tunnels along River Road to assist with herpetofauna migration to and from breeding areas at the Stahl Area.  In conjunction with Montclair State University, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW)  and New Jersey Audubon, the Friends Group is seeking volunteers to assist in the collection of data (i.e. identify and count species) as part of a pre-construction survey to estimate herpetofauna populations during spring and early summer migration (March 2014 to June 30, 2014).

As part of the March 15, 2014 training day, a presentation about the project will be given by NJDFW and Montclair University, survey protocols will be explained and herpetofauna identification will be provided.  No survey or species identification experience is needed. You do not need to be a resident of Bedminster –but you should live close by.  Please note that survey work will involve the handling of animals, may involve adverse weather conditions, walking on uneven terrain and through brush, and some work will involve crossing River Road which does have active traffic.  Therefore, we are looking volunteers 18 or older OR high school students/scout groups under the supervision of a parent or guardian or teacher/scout master.

You must pre-register for this training BEFORE March 13 by emailing or calling John Parke of New Jersey Audubon at john.parke@njaudubon.org  or 908-813-8325

Staghorn Sumac: Small Tree but BIG Benefits to the Landscape

mixed flock in Staghorn sumac 2014 (PARKE)As I watch the birds consume the berries of the Staghorn Sumac trees over the cold snow covered landscape, I thought to myself how this tree is often thought of as a “weed” of roadside and urban areas. I also thought how many times I have had folks mistake it for its cousin Poison Sumac, or the non-native invasive look-a-like Tree-of-Heaven. It is with this information in mind that I present to you Staghorn Sumac: a very underrated and important native plant to NJ’s landscape.

The largest of the North American sumacs, Staghorn Sumac is wide spread in the northeastern US. Resembling a small tree, Staghorn Sumac is very fast growing and forms “thicket colonies” in the wild via self-seeding and root suckering. These sumac “tree colonies” also provide nesting and shelter sites for many bird species. Staghorn sumac is generally pest-disease free, it’s drought tolerant and does very well in full sun to partial shade and in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. They are very tolerant of a wide range of soils, except for wetland type soils (i.e., poorly drained).

Staghorn Sumac is very important to habitat restoration because of its ability to grow in harsh conditions, especially on dry nutrient poor soil areas, thin soils, embankments and impossible slopes where even red cedar struggles. It is a very valuable plant for soil erosion control because of its shallow red-banned hairstreak (PARKE)spreading root system and therefore is frequently used in mine reclamation sites, landfills, buffer strips to waterways in agricultural fields and windbreaks on farm fields that are on slopes.

What many people don’t know about Staghorn Sumac is the tiny greenish-yellow flowers which bloom in the spring are very important source of nectar for several butterfly species, including banded and striped hairstreaks. It is also a larval host of spring azure butterfly. According to the The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Staghorn Sumac is rated as a plant of “Special Value to Native Bees”. In fact, it is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees for its pollen and nectar as well as the plant provides nesting materials/structure for native bees Furthermore, Staghorn Sumac encourages biological control as it attracts predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon pest insects.

Staghorn sumac (PARKE)But by far it is the fruits of the Staghorn Sumac that really make it special! The red cone-shaped cluster panicles of hairy berries ripen in autumn and gradually turn dark red as they lastRobin on snow eating sumac and black haw (PARKE) through the winter. These berries offer exceptional food for wildlife, especially in winter. American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, and approximately 300 other species of songbirds incorporate the Staghorn Sumac fruit into their diet. It is also known to be important winter forage for game birds such as Ruffed Grouse, Ring-necked Pheasant, Northern Bobwhite, and Wild Turkey. Squirrels and cottontail rabbits will also consume the berries, but will also eat sumac bark.

NJ Audubon promotes the use of native plants for landscaping and wildlife habitat restoration, but we also promote the use of native plants in connection with agricultural practices and farming. According to a 2014 United Nations report Agriculture takes up 1/3 of the land on earth and 38% of that arable land has become degraded. Land is a finite resource, we need to become more efficient in the ways we produce, supply and consume." With this concept in mind NJ Audubon supports our friend Ms. Tama Matsuoka-Wong’s efforts of creating a “Wild Farm” using Staghorn Sumac as a test crop. For more information about Tama’s “Wild Farm” project please see https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/421744326/the-wild-farm-producing-local-sumac-spices

Always something to see in the field

New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is working collaboratively with Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) to evaluate the effects of vegetation maintenance activitiesHatchling with yolk sac attached september 1 2013 along transmission Right’s-of-Way. This project is focused in the New Jersey Highlands region and seeks to provide recommendations for future corridor management that will maintain and improve habitat for wildlife (e.g., leading to increases in population or reproductive output), especially species of greatest conservation need. More specifically, the overall goal of the project is to develop habitat management strategies for PSEG transmission line corridors that provide the greatest benefit to young forest wildlife, while satisfying the company’s regulatory requirements for vegetation maintenance and management. In a heavily forested landscape, utility Right-of-Way's (ROW's) can offer important habitat not only for young forest breeding birds, but for a number of terrestrial species that need an open-canopy for nesting, basking or foraging. Turtles are an excellent example of how ROWs can be an important in satisfying certain habitat needs. During the 2013 field season an exposed snapping turtle nest was found offering the opportunity to observe the hatching process.  To the right is an image of a new hatchling with the yolk sac that provides nourishment right after hatching.  This is quickly absorbed.  We hope you enjoy viewing this fascinating wildlife spectacle through the pictures and video posted here.

An exposed snapping turtle nest was found this summer and the eggs were taken home to hatch and record the process. Below are the turtles–returning to the wild…..

Releasing Turtles September 10 2013 all 13

Laine Farms and New Jersey Audubon awarded USDA Conservation Innovation Grant

On September 23, 2013, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Carrie Mosley announced the New Jersey recipients of the 2013 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). The grant program, intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, supports environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. jim laine of Laine Farms with Spelt (PARKE)

One of only three CIG projects funded in the state was Laine Farms (Hillsborough, NJ) who will work with New Jersey Audubon to pursue a 3-year project on the “Use of a Specialty Commodity Crop to Aid and Maximize Habitat Values for Grassland Dependent Bird Species.”  

With a limited economic market for native warm-season grass, along with trends in crop production moving towards increased corn and soybean production, Laine Farms and NJ Audubon are proposing an alternative to the standard biofuel crops. The alternative crop Spelt, is anticipated to provide agricultural producers with economic diversity and stability while also providing critical habitat for grassland dependent birds.

Spelt (Triticum aestivum var. spelta) is a sub-species of common wheat. Spelt is used for both human consumption, as well as an alternative livestock feed. Spelt is similar in physical structure and growing-season to the typical native warm-season grasses used for biofuel and can conceivably accommodate the needs of grassland dependent birds. The use of this surrogate crop also provides the producer with a viable commodity crop that already has an established and growing market in the United States, unlike the native warm-season grass for biofuel here in the Northeast. Furthermore, it can be planted with conventional equipment and is completely harvestable without the reliance on and/or restrictions of harvest presented under current USDA programs.

From an agriculture production standpoint, incorporating spelt into an existing crop rotation has benefits to the farming operations overall with improvement to soil and water quality. Spelt typically uses less fertilizer (e.g., Spelt requires about 25-50% less nitrogen than wheat) and chemicals for weed control than conventional crops and it can be utilized as an alternative cover crop. Spelt grows successfully in poorer soils (i.e., poorly-drained, low-fertility) than wheat, including heavy clay, and can even tolerate dryer conditions as well, including sandy soils. Spelt is drought tolerant and does not require irrigation, making it similar to native grasses. Based on this information alone, regarding soil and moisture requirements, spelt theoretically could be grown in every physiographic region of New Jersey. 

100Spelt is also very resistant to frosts and other extreme weather conditions and the grain's exceptionally thick husk protects it from pollutants and insects. As spelt is a pure, original, grain and not biologically modified in any way, it is very resistant to the crop diseases that often plague modern crop varieties and it grows quite successfully without the application of herbicides,Male Bobolink at Pepe Farm (Parke) pesticides, or fungicides.

From a wildlife resource perspective, spelt is similar in structure to many of the native warm-season grasses promoted for biofuel use and more importantly spelt is typically harvested AFTER July 15. This harvest time will not impact the critical breeding bird months (i.e., April – Mid July); unlike the harvesting of cool-season grass hay crops or other grain crops such as rye, oats, barley or wheat.

The project has significant potential to resolve how to provide critical wildlife habitat on agricultural production land without sacrificing agricultural commodity (food) production. If successful this would be the first agricultural commodity crop that can be harvested without restriction, while providing critical grassland habitat to some of the rarest bird species in NJ.

This is Laine Farms’ 2nd CIG award, and the second in collaboration with New Jersey Audubon. This is New Jersey Audubon’s 4th CIG collaboration project.

Photos by John Parke (Top Right: Jim Laine showing spelt; Left: Close–up of spelt gain in husk; Right: Bobolink, a grassland species that is a Threatened species in NJ.

Why A Duck (Stamp)?

A guest blog to Stewardship by NJ Audubon volunteer Bonnie O'Connor

No, this isn’t about the famous Marx Brothers routine; the intention is to lift the basket off a very bright light. I am referring to the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp or the Duck Stamp as it is affectionately called. It is one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated.

My introduction to the Federal Duck Stamp program occurred when my profession as an Art teacher and my avocation as an avid birder collided. In an effort to inspire my sixth grade drawing class, I discovered the Junior Duck Stamp contest. The contest is open to all students grades kindergarten through 12th grade in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The program incorporates learning about conservation, science, and nature through artistic expression. As the young artists worked on their drawings, they learned about the fascinating story of the Federal Duck stamp including history, politics, artists, and wildlife. Most of all they image_thumb3learned the importance of conserving our natural environment, and then there were the ducks! Waterfowl mounts obtained from the Newark Museum combined with a myriad of visuals assisted the students in honing their drawing skills while observing the beauty and habitats of their subjects. The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor is the official site for Junior Duck Stamp entries and judging in New Jersey.

The Federal Duck Stamp contest is the only federally legislated Art competition in the country. The first Federal Duck Stamp was designed by Jay “Ding” Darling, a political cartoonist in 1934 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It depicts two mallards about to land on a marsh pond.

THE FACTS

image_thumbOn June 28th the 2013-14 Migratory Waterfowl Hunting and Conservation Stamp went on sale. It is a non-postal stamp that can be purchased at U.S. post offices, national wildlife refuges and at some sporting goods stores. It can also be purchased on line at www.duckstamp.com. The cost is $15.00 dollars. Hunters sixteen years or older must purchase the stamp for their hunting license. The Duck Stamp also serves as a “season pass” of entry to the 560 National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S.

Perhaps the most commanding reason to purchase a Duck Stamp is that 98% of the proceeds are used to invest in the conservation of wildlife habitat. Since 1934, sales of the Federal Duck Stamp have generated more than $850 million dollars, which has been used to purchase or lease over six million acres of wetland habitat in the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversee and manage these lands. Waterfowl are not the only wildlife to benefit from the sale of Duck Stamps. Numerous other birds, mammal fish, reptile and amphibian species that rely on wetlands have benefited. An estimated one-third of the nation’s endangered and threatened species find food and shelter in refuges established using Federal Duck Stamp funds. In New Jersey, the Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired 51,317 fee acres and 2 lease acres for the National Wildlife Refuge System using Duck Stamp dollars. This accounts for approximately 67% of all refuge land in New Jersey.

See Chart

image_thumb[3]

Identity Crisis?

The Duck Stamp is a treasure at risk. The number of people who hunt waterfowl in the U.S. has declined since the mid 1990’s. This has resulted in a reduction of the number of Duck Stamps sold. The drop in revenue could mean a possible reduction in the protection and conservation of wildlife habitat. Although the Stamp is mandatory for a hunting license, each year it provides 25 million dollars in funds to protect wetlands habitat in the national wildlife refuge system for the benefit of wildlife and recreation. A 2011 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 71.1 million wildlife watchers in the U.S. and bird watching has been documented to be the fastest growing leisure activity. The population of non-hunters including wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, artists and stamp collectors represents a powerful force. The support of this community could insure continued success of the Duck Stamp program in the future.

Buying and displaying a Duck Stamp would be a symbol, a “badge of honor” of one’s respect for the conservation of the natural environment we all cherish.

As a member of several nature and wildlife organizations both national and local, I have yet to encounter advocacy for the Duck Stamp program. There are certainly numerous venues to raise awareness. Nature centers, workshops, field trips print ads in nature magazines to name a few. People are more inclined to support and protect what they love. I am confident that if more people were informed and understood what a $15.00 investment could do for conservation of these precious resources the likelihood of their support would increase substantially. Isn’t time we lift the basket off this bright light. Why a Duck Stamp? WHY NOT!

Resources

The Duck Stamp Story- Eric jay Dolin and Bob Dumaine 2000

The Wild Duck Chase- Martin J. Smith 2012

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service www.fws.gov

Fall Foraging - Engaging Nature’s Bounty

New Jersey Audubon embraces the concept of sustainable foraging because it is an excellent way for people to engage nature and learn about the importance of natural resource protection, habitat and agriculture, and it’s a healthy activity that can taste great too!

Knowing where your food comes from, linking the food to the land, creates better educational opportunities and allows us to recognize the role conservation plays in protecting natural resources (e.g., soil, water, wildlife) on a regional scale.

Where our food comes from and how it is grown, whether on a farm or wild in nature, has a profound effect on our landscapes, our health, our wildlife and the communities where we live. How we care for our environment and the landscape it exists within is the key to a meaningful, healthy, and enjoyable existence.

What many people overlook, or take for granted - when they buy, cook, or even pick food from either their gardens or in nature -is what goes into the production of the plant and its fruits. Meaning, food doesn't just show up -it is grown. To grow, plants need good soil, clean water, suitable places to grow, pollinators, soil microbes, wildlife (such as birds and other animals dispersing seeds), and the plants can’t be out competed by invasive non-native vegetation or eaten by deer. Unless you undertake conservation measures and practice natural resource protection many of the essential building blocks necessary for food production break down, ecological balance will be broken. Sustainable management of natural resources is essential to make food systems sustainable. Sustainable management of natural resources is what NJ Audubon undertakes through our conservation initiatives.

Some may think that NJ Audubon is just a bird watching organization - not true – NJ Audubon is a conservation organization! While our roots stem from advocacy on behalf of birds, and while we certainly have a deep appreciation for and commitment to bird watching, the organization’s mission extends to all native wildlife, plants and their habitats. In particular we are especially focused on those species and systems that are rare or declining. Our work helps conserve the environment, protect natural recourses and restore critical habitat for the benefits of wildlife and people.

019_thumb1020_thumb1REMEMBER:  The main rule of foraging is: Never, ever eat a spice-bush_thumb1wild plant without being POSITIVE about its identification.

Renowned Forger and Author of Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer's Market, Tama Matsuoka Wong see here (On LEFT), harvests chestnuts from a non-native Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima) tree at NJ Audubon Wattles Stewardship Center.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoic) (On RIGHT). Spicebush leaves and fruit are often foraged in the fall. But did you know that over 20 species of birds feed on the small, brilliant red fruits formed on female plants. These berries are one of the best sources of energy for long distance migratory birds.  Also the larva (caterpillar) of the Spicebush and Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies feeds on the leaves.

NJA Holds Annual Corporate Stewardship Council Meeting in Trenton

It has been another highly successful year for the New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) that has seen habitat restoration projects benefiting wildlife species all over the State.  On September 13, 2013 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hosted the CSC’s annual meeting at their offices in Trenton.   Filling in for NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin, was Acting Deputy Commissioner Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., who applauded members of the Council for their commitment to ecological sustainability and praised the importance of the CSC initiative that affords NJA_CSC_logo_vert_CMYK BLUE BROWN CREAMthe private sector an opportunity to take leadership roles in conservation stewardship.

The meeting was presided over by Co-Chairmen, Mr. Ralph LaRossa, President of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) and Mr. Keith Campbell, Chairman of the Board of Mannington Mills, Inc.  Mr. Campbell recently accepted the position of CSC Co-Chairman after the retirement of former Co-Chair Mr. Dennis Bone in 2012.  Headquartered in Salem, New Jersey, and founded in 1915 by his great grandfather John Boston Campbell, Mannington Mills is now one of the largest flooring manufacturers in the world.  It is also the only North American-based company engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of residential and commercial resilient, laminate, hardwood and porcelain tile floors, as well as commercial carpet and rubber.  Mannington Mills is also recipient of two Governors Environmental Excellence Awards and is a recognized leader of sustainable practices.

The CSC also recognized and expressed our sincere thanks to former CSC Co-Chairman, Mr. Dennis Bone.  In 2012, Mr. Bone retired as President of Verizon's New Jersey area and had presided over the CSC as Co-Chairman since its inception in 2007.   New Jersey Audubon is grateful for his willingness to co-chair the CSC at its beginning stages and provide leadership over the years to assure its success. Mr. Bone’s tenure as CSC Co-chair brought with it great growth, on-the ground conservation, and recognition of CSC members and NJ Audubon.  Below is just a snap-shot of CSC achievements under Mr. Bone’s tenure:

· Since its inception, the CSC has increased its membership from 11 to 18 members.

· Since its inspection a total of 22 projects encompassing over 420 acres have been completed.

P6280016· Within those 22 projects, habitat for 21 different NJ listed species (Threatened or Endangered Species) are being managed for. (This does not include State Species of Special Concern with which there are many that occur on these project sites)

· Several projects that had also involved nest box installations and monitoring have fledged over 3,360 new birds (combination of purple martin, tree swallow, American kestrel and eastern bluebird).

· Two CSC projects (Verizon and Mannington Mills) have won the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award in the Healthy Ecosystem and Healthy and Sustainable Businesses categories, respectively.

· One CSC project, New Jersey American Water, has won the New Jersey Business and Industry Environmental Quality Award.

To see current summary information regarding individual CSC Member Projects go to: http://www.njaudubon.org/Portals/10/Conservation/PDF/2013CSCBrochure.pdf

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