5/24/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 21
A dozen years ago, wildlife experts were sure that the fisher – a member of the weasel family – was long gone from New Jersey.
But a biologist using a motion-triggered camera proved them wrong. Believing fishers were back, the late Charlie Kontos, an adjunct professor and Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers, set up a camera along a trail in Stokes State Forest in Sussex County.
The image captured by the “trail cam” in October 2006 clearly showed a fisher, its . . .
5/17/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 20
Look around and you’ll see plastic bags everywhere: tumbling along roads, washed up on beaches, caught in tree branches, and clogging rivers, streams and storm drains.
In 2017, volunteers for Clean Ocean Action collected more than 9,000 plastic bags during their spring and fall “Beach Sweeps” up and down the Jersey shore. In April, volunteers for Raritan Headwaters Association picked up 2,370 bags along the Raritan River and its tributaries.
These cleanup . . .
5/10/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 19
Bluebirds have been a symbol of happiness for thousands of years and across many cultures. With their brilliant blue plumage and flash of red on the breast, these year-round New Jersey residents are breathtaking.
But the last century hasn’t been the happiest time for these small thrushes, which historically nested in hollow tree cavities.
The Eastern bluebird was once common up and down the East Coast, especially in open habitat with little understory and sparse ground . . .
5/3/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 18
Along New Jersey State Highway 72 in New Lisbon, just around the bend from Brendan Byrne State Forest, is a publicly-accessible forest fire observation tower. The view is stunning: one can see the vast expanse of our Pine Barrens, a sea of green extending in every direction.
At first glance, the forests may all look alike. But look more closely and you'll begin to see a rich diversity of trees and plants, surprising for a place called barren.
Maintaining diverse forests and . . .
4/26/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 17
Clean energy like solar and wind got a huge boost last week with the passage of a new clean energy bill.
The clean energy bill was passed by the state Senate and Assembly in Trenton. Once Governor Phil Murphy signs it into law, this state we’re in will join New York and California in leading the nation in clean energy. The bill will also put New Jersey on the path to meet the Governor’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Today, New Jersey only gets 15 . . .
4/19/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 16
Grant Harris took a bold step last week when he preserved nearly 375 acres of grasslands surrounding his famous Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove Township, the oldest weekly professional rodeo in the United States and the only one in New Jersey.
Preserving the land where his horses and cattle graze allows him to continue a five-generation family rodeo legacy while helping keep agriculture alive in Salem County. What many folks may not realize is that preserving these rolling green . . .
4/12/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 15
Step outside at night and gaze up at the sky. Do you see a dim orangey glow? If so, you’re experiencing the modern problem of light pollution.
Our multitude of outdoor lights – streetlights, home lighting, stores, illuminated signs and more – obscure the magnificent dome of constellations and planets that have inspired a sense of wonder since the earliest days of mankind.
Raising awareness about light pollution and promoting solutions is the goal of . . .
4/5/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 14
Imagine a 500-acre island oasis for birds and wildlife, and an urban nature education center, in the Delaware River between Camden and Philadelphia.
Fifteen years ago, an improbable alliance formed. Petty’s Island’s owner, the CITGO Petroleum Corporation, teamed up with environmentalists from across New Jersey and local urban residents to preserve the island.
The battle to preserve Petty’s Island is captured in “500 Acres of Controversy: Saving . . .
3/29/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 13
Do you have Japanese angelica, Siebold’s viburnum or trifolate orange in your yard? If so, they can spell trouble.
All three are invasive plants, meaning they’re alien to New Jersey and can spread widely. They’re not a food source for native wildlife, and they’ll aggressively crowd out native plants.
Japanese angelica, Siebold’s viburnum and trifolate orange are among several new invasive plants identified by the New Jersey Invasive Species . . .
3/22/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 12
In spite of another snowstorm on the first day of spring, it’s impossible to ignore that spring is here. And lots of snow-weary New Jerseyans will be heading outdoors to explore new places.
Where to go? You could visit state and national parks. But how about following a different path? Check out the county parks in this state we’re in!
County parks are the Garden State’s hidden treasures: uncrowded places known mostly to locals. Some are compact neighborhood . . .
3/15/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 11
There’s no “magic potion” to cure everything that ails us, but a nonprofit health group is touting the next best thing: walking.
Walk with a Doc, whose mission is to encourage physical activity and reverse the effects of sedentary lifestyles, says walking is the most effective way to improve the health of people of all ages.
Walking is low-impact and easy on the joints. It can be done anywhere. And, according to the American Heart Association, walking has . . .
3/8/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 10
It’s a beautiful day and you’ve got some free time. Will you spend it outdoors in nature or hanging out with your friends? Don’t answer – it’s a trick question! You don’t have to choose. It turns out that being social is one of the best ways to enjoy nature.
A recent study, “The Nature of Americans,” found that although most folks say nature is a top interest, they don’t actually spend much time outdoors. The majority of adults . . .
3/1/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 9
Trash seems to be an inevitable part of life in our modern culture. But is it possible to reduce your garbage by half? How about 75 percent … or even all of it?
New Jersey has always been in the forefront of trash reduction. In April 1987, this state we’re in became the first in the nation to require recycling. But some people are going further.
Proponents of the “zero waste” movement say it’s possible to create so little trash that you can . . .
2/22/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 8
Record-breaking warm temperatures may be welcome to humans, but for wildlife it’s still winter.
Late February and early March are great for wildlife watching in New Jersey, especially along the coast. Winter migrants from the north are still here, and longer daylight means more sightings of seals and birds that haven’t yet returned to their spring breeding grounds.
Grab your binoculars and field guide, and get out to watch our winter species!
Seals< . . .
Forrest Gump claimed life is like a box of chocolates; we believe a healthy forest is like a layer cake.
At the bottom of the cake is the “understory” layer, with seedlings, saplings, woody shrubs and other plants. Next up is the “mid-story,” with taller young trees and larger shrubs. The “canopy,” with the oldest, largest trees is the top layer of the cake!
What happens to a cake if the lower layer is pulled out? It collapses. And, . . .
2/8/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 6
In 1968, biologists were working to unravel the mystery of the other-worldly sounds made by humpback whales. What did they mean?
Looking for help, biologist Roger Payne came to New Jersey to visit Scott McVay, who years earlier had researched dolphin communications. Scott knew how to use a sound spectrograph, a machine that turns sounds into visual graphs, and Payne brought him new recordings of humpback whales.
Scott and his mathematician wife, Hella, converted the . . .
2/2/18 RELEASE: Feb.2, 2018 - Volume XLVIII, No. 5
What will New Jersey be like in 30 years?
If bold recommendations from Governor Murphy’s Environment and Energy Transition Team become reality, this state we’re in will be cleaner and greener along with more urban parks and protected wildlife habitats. Talk about a breath of fresh air!
The year 2050 figures prominently in a report just released by the governor’s Environment and Energy Transition Advisory Committee. First, 2050 is the year when New Jersey is . . .
There’s been lots in the news lately about proposed new natural gas pipelines. And you've probably noticed serious opposition from landowners, environmental groups and elected officials.
That’s because New Jersey has found itself dead center in the face of a new type of sprawl. Right now, our little state has 1,520 miles of existing natural gas pipelines with enough capacity to supply New Jerseyans even in the coldest weather. But if we don’t change . . .
1/18/18 Volume XLVIII, No. 3
Got cabin fever? If you’re already stir-crazy from spending too much time indoors this winter, it’s time to get out and hike, cross-country ski or even snowshoe!
New Jersey’s parks and forests are lovely in winter, especially with a fresh coating of white fluff. Without leaves on the trees, you can enjoy views that are hidden in other seasons, and fresh snow will reveal animal tracks. All without ticks, chiggers, mosquitos or crowds!
A brisk winter hike is a . . .
Forty years ago this week, then-Governor Brendan Byrne stood before the New Jersey Legislature to champion a cause that would win him no political points: the preservation of the Pine Barrens.
“It’s a politically unpopular issue – trees don’t vote,” he said in his State of the State address on Jan. 10, 1978. However, Governor Byrne added, he would not be “dissuaded by the pressures to develop the . . .
On READ MORE
12/28/17 Volume XLVII, No. 52
This article is the final installment of a three-part series, "It's Elemental: Air, Water and Earth in the State We're In."
New Jersey’s got a state bird (Eastern goldfinch), state tree (red oak), state flower (violet), state animal (horse) and even a state dinosaur (Hadrosaurus foulkii). Did you know it also has a state soil?
It’s called “Downer,” but it’s really more of an upper! It’s the most common soil type in New Jersey, . . .
This article is the second installment of a three-part series, "It's Elemental: Air, Water and Earth in the State We're In."
Much is over-hyped lately, but there’s no exaggerating the importance of abundant clean water. Quite simply, it’s critical to our health, environment and economy.
12/15/17 This article is the first installment of a three-part series "It's Elemental: Air, Water and Earth in the State We're In"
As recent wildfires burned out of control in California, air quality suffered greatly. Air Quality Index readings showed “unhealthy” levels in many places, and were comparable to air quality in China’s most polluted cities.
For the most part, however, dangerously polluted air is rare in the United States.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, large cities and surrounding metropolitan areas – including . . .
12/7/17 Volume XLVII, No. 49
Amid the glittering high rises along New Jersey’s “Gold Coast,” there’s an immense green oasis. It’s a place for the public to walk, play, relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - all at no charge.
It’s Liberty State Park in Jersey City, located along the Hudson River waterfront, home to some of New Jersey’s most valuable real estate.
But for the second time in two years, Liberty . . .
With a new governor taking office in January, New Jersey has a great opportunity to regain its national environmental leadership role.
On the campaign trail, Governor-elect Murphy pledged strong support for the environment, a “green economy” boosted by clean energy jobs, and a renewed emphasis on climate change.
The time to act is now. The . . .
11/22/17 Volume XLVII, No. 47
As Americans, we have the right to free speech, the right to practice our religion of choice, and the right to peaceably assemble.
These rights are in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and we’re entitled to them - period.
But what if we had the same constitutional right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment?
That’s the premise of a new book by Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum, “The Green Amendment: Securing our Right . . .
11/16/17 Volume XLVII, No. 46
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t pay much attention to where your water comes from or where it goes. But, according to the Jersey Water Works collaborative, you should!
Jersey Water Works was founded in 2015 to raise awareness of the state’s aging water infrastructure - the essential systems that deliver drinking water, remove and treat sewage, and take stormwater off of our streets. Jersey Water Works is also finding innovative solutions to modernize . . .
11/9/17 Volume XLVII, No. 45
Do you remember watching The Land before Time, wondering if Littlefoot and his cadre of dinosaur friends would succeed in their arduous trek to find the Great Valley? Would they reach the bountiful forests, warm sun, and pristine rivers and wetlands in time to save themselves?
Littlefoot’s Great Valley may have been the immense fold in the Earth’s crust that runs from the Coosa Valley in Alabama northeast through New Jersey to the Champlain Valley in . . .
11/2/17 Volume XLVII, No. 44
As temperatures cool and daylight hours shorten, New Jersey’s non-migrating bats have gone into hibernation.
For the last decade, hibernation for New Jersey’s bats has been unusually precarious. A disease known as white-nose syndrome – caused by a fungus – has decimated many bat species by scarring their wings and disrupting hibernation patterns, causing them to wake and fly around when they should be sleeping. After depleting their energy reserves, the bats . . .
RELEASE: Oct. 26, 2017 – Volume XLVII, No. 43
The Daniels Preserve in Gloucester County is a forested oasis whose numerous vernal pools support breeding amphibians. The Hill & Dale Preserve in Tewksbury Township extends from the Rockaway Creek valley up the steep flank of Hell Mountain and provides stream protection and scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The Interboro property – part of the Candace Ashmun Preserve in the Forked River . . .
10/19/17 Volume XLVII, No. 42
Chances are, you haven’t heard much about the saltwater fish known as menhaden, or bunker. Recreational fishermen don’t catch them, you won’t find them on a menu, and you’re unlikely to see them on a poster or T-shirt.
But if you’ve ever seen an osprey flying overhead with a fish in its talons or a huge humpback whale breaching, you probably have the humble menhaden to thank!
Menhaden is what’s known as a “keystone” species, one . . .
If your community’s land and water were contaminated - and the polluter was fined for the damage – where do you think the money should go?
Should the funds be dedicated to protecting or restoring natural resources in the impacted area, or should they go into the general state budget, or fill some other program need? This question will be decided by New Jersey voters on Nov. 7.
In theory, here’s how New Jersey’s Natural Resource Damages fund . . .
The year was 2002, and New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s board of trustees faced a tough decision.
The owner of a nearly 10,000-acre cranberry farm in the Pine Barrens was getting out of the business. He wanted to know if NJ Conservation would buy his property for $12.5 million and turn it into a nature preserve.
The opportunity was incredible. The land was surrounded on almost all sides by public forest and parkland, and this 10,000 acres was referred to as both the . . .
9/28/17 Volume XLVII, No. 39
With two months to go, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has made history as one of the most active and destructive on record. Four major hurricanes - Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria - caused catastrophic impacts to the U.S. mainland and Caribbean islands, and there could be more. The warm ocean waters that spawn tropical cyclones won’t cool down for some time.
This cluster of hurricanes does not come as a surprise to climate scientists, who have predicted that man-made . . .
9/21/17 Volume XLVII, No. 38
The beautifully colored corn snake is endangered in New Jersey. It is a southern species, living at the northern limit of its range in the sandy pine forests of New Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain, deep in the Pine Barrens.
This gorgeous snake, also called the red rat snake, established a population in the Pine Barrens after the last ice age. As glacial ice retreated and the climate began warming about 12,000 years ago, the sea level was much lower than today. Delaware Bay and the . . .
9/14/17 Volume XLVII, No. 37
If you drink Budweiser, you’re drinking water from New Jersey’s Highlands!
A rugged, mostly forested 1,250-square-mile region stretching diagonally across northern New Jersey, the Highlands supplies drinking water to about 6.2 million people, or more than 70 percent of the state’s population. That includes residents of Newark, Jersey City and Paterson, the state’s three largest cities, as well as parts of 16 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
Thanks to . . .
Thirty years ago, the King of Morocco made headlines when he bought the Natirar estate in Peapack-Gladstone, now a Somerset County park. King Hassan II may not have known, but there’s an ancient connection between his homeland and the Highlands region of New Jersey where Natirar (“Raritan” spelled backwards) is located.
Hundreds of millions of years ago, when the Earth had a single supercontinent called Pangaea, the eastern part of North America and western Africa . . .
The Earth is about 3.8 billion years old, and has experienced five great extinctions of plants and animals. The last took place about 65 million years ago, when a giant asteroid slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
In the words of biologist and author Edward O. Wilson, the asteroid impact “rang the planet like a bell,” causing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, acid rain and a tsunami that raced across the globe. Soot in the atmosphere blocked sunlight and brought . . .
When you turn on the lights, you’re probably not thinking about where your energy comes from. But the source of our energy has huge impacts on the health of New Jersey’s families, environment, communities and economy.
What are the choices? Will we continue to increase our dependence on fossil fuels? Oil and gas have been cheap and plentiful for many years but they can and do pollute our air and water, threaten human health, and generate emissions leading to climate . . .