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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