New Jersey Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council member Pine Island Cranberry Company, Inc. has won the prestigious Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for the Healthy Ecosystem category. This marks the third NJ Audubon Corporate Stewardship Council member to have won the award in the Council’s 10-year history.
The Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards are the State's premier environmental awards for recognizing outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects. These awards honor and recognize individuals, businesses, nonprofits, educators, institutions, communities, youth and others who have made significant contributions to environmental protection throughout the state.
For the Healthy Ecosystems category, Pine Island Cranberry Company (PICC) demonstrated a commitment to and experience in programs and techniques that have resulted in the restoration, protection and enhancement of the State's ecological resources.
Specifically, Pine Island Cranberry Company, working with New Jersey Audubon and other collaborators, have been addressing the loss of critical habitat needed to support Northern Bobwhite (a bird native to the eastern United States) and other wildlife and to bring attention to the need for active forest management in New Jersey’s Pinelands. NJ Audubon nominated Pine Island Cranberry Company for the award having seen first-hand how PICC has undertaken active habitat management, producing numerous benefits for wildlife and water quality. For more than a decade PICC has been managing their forest lands under the guidance of a forest stewardship plan created Certified Forester Bob Williams of Pine Creek Forestry. Integrating forest stewardship with their agricultural activities, Pine Island Cranberry Company has created a model site that embodies how healthy ecosystems should function and is providing an example of what forest stewardship coupled with agricultural productions looks like.
Earlier this year Pine Island Cranberry Company became the first recipient in NJ of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative’s Firebird Award, which recognizes contributions to that state’s efforts toward habitat-based restoration of wild quail. Pine Island Cranberry Company has been participating over the last 3 years in a multiyear and multistate study lead in NJ by New Jersey Audubon, with project collaborators including: Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, University of Delaware, Pine Creek Forestry, and the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. This research is evaluating translocation of wild Northern Bobwhite as a viable method of creating a sustainable wild population of quail, positioning New Jersey for a significant effort to restore quail back to its historic range.
Pine Island Cranberry, encompassing over 14,000 acres, was selected for this quail research in large part due to its undertaking of forest stewardship actions since 2001 following a state approved Forest Stewardship Plan. This forest management and habitat stewardship work was already creating areas of young forest habitat that would be suitable for quail, and many other species of plants and animals. These stewardship actions include several hundred acres of forest stand thinning and prescribed burning that have created a mosaic of healthy ecosystems. The areas that have undergone active management and stewardship are helping to establish quality habitat for quail and other species, while also helping to address forest health issues such as fuel load reduction, control of forest diseases and pests, and ultimately successful regeneration and forest function in the NJ Pinelands.
NJ Audubon congratulates Pine Island Cranberry Company, Inc. and would like to extend our congratulations to the rest of the 2017 Environmental Excellence Award winners and commend them for their efforts to make New Jersey a better place for people and wildlife!