Environmental Notes for September 2014
Illegal Dumping on New Jersey Public Lands
The topic of this month’s Environmental Notes is not related to gardening but is one that I believe every citizen who is concerned about the environment of our state should be aware of Illegal Dumping.
In New Jersey, there are 813,819 acres of state-owned, preserved open space. Large scale dumping, of all kinds of waste, has become a major problem. The picture below, from the Star-Ledger, is one example of the problem.
TVs, mattresses and other debris were cleaned up during an event today at the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park in Franklin Township to announce a new statewide crackdown on illegal dumping in state parks and natural lands. (Bill Wichert/The Star-Ledger)
This picture was taken on March 27, 2014, and shows the types of material being dumped. One item missing is tires, which are very popular with dumpers: 300 were removed from one park.
The dumping problem is particularly bad in the large state forests, such as the Wharton, Brendan T. Byrne and Bass River state forests. They are very large and have networks of roads, which allow illegal dumpers to get to remote areas undetected.
As the caption on the picture states, the cleanup event was where the state announced a new program to crack down on illegal dumpers. This program is being run by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) in cooperation with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies.
An enforcement strategy has been developed, which includes the installation of hidden cameras in known dumping areas, and the use of other technologies, such as advanced mapping techniques. Key to the enforcement strategy is the fines, which dumpers can be hit with. Fines can reach $50,000 and multiples thereof. Dumpers may be arrested and their vehicles confiscated.
As part of this new program, the NJ DEP has initiated a public outreach and education effort, which they hope will make the public more aware of the problem and result in the public reporting illegal jumping. A key part of the program is a new website containing much more information than I can convey in this brief note:
Environmental Notes for September 2013
An introduction to the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA)
The RHA is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization whose mission is “to protect, preserve, and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through science, education, advocacy, land preservation, and stewardship.
The RHA plays a leading role in protecting the watersheds of the North Branch and South Branch of the Raritan River. The Raritan Headwaters region includes an area of 470 sq. mi. in parts of Hunterdon, Morris and Somerset Counties and has a population of 400,000 people. 60% of the households in RHA region have well and septic systems. The region provides drinking water for more than 1.5 million people beyond our region and contributes to the Highlands Water Supply, which serves more than half of the state’s population.
It fulfills its mission by playing a number of roles in the region:
Development of sound environmental policies for communities in the watershed
Help citizens learn about land and water issues and take action to ensure a healthy environment for
people and wildlife
Team with residents and local governments to test wells and monitor the quality of water in streams
and pursue remedies to restore impaired waters.
Offer recreational and educational opportunities including hiking, wildlife observation, nature camp
and field trips at their headquarters in Bedminster
The RHA headquarters is at the Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster. They are a very active organization, and I believe that they perform a valuable service to the region. Their website is www.raritanheadwaters.org
Environmental Notes for August 2013
Recently I have received mailings from The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, asking me to join. I went to their website and found a lot of information on several topics of interest to gardeners and environmentalists.
I copied the information below from their website: The Xerces Society. Since our August speaker’s topic is the Monarch Butterfly, I included the details on all of the society’s Butterfly Conservation programs.
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.
Butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, worms, starfish, mussels, and crabs are but a few of the millions of invertebrates at the heart of a healthy environment. Invertebrates build the stunning coral reefs of our oceans; they are essential to the reproduction of most flowering plants, including many fruits, vegetables, and nuts; and they are food for birds, fish, and other animals. Yet invertebrate populations are often imperiled by human activities and rarely accounted for in mainstream conservation.
Society uses advocacy, education, and applied research to defend invertebrates.
Over the past three decades, we have protected endangered species and their habitats, produced ground-breaking publications on insect conservation, trained thousands of farmers and land managers to protect and manage habitat, and raised awareness about the invertebrates of forests, prairies, deserts, and oceans.
Butterflies are valuable components of our environment. From the grassland-dependent species of the Pacific Northwest to swallowtails of Central and South America, we work to conserve butterflies and moths throughout the world. The Red List of butterflies and moths assessed the conservation needs of some of the most at-risk North American species. The Xerces Society works with state and federal agencies, landowners, and other nonprofit organizations to achieve effective Lepidoptera conservation.
The Xerces Society works to protect the sites where monarchs thrive, breed, migrate and overwinter.
Reviewing 2013 proposals for Joan DeWind Award
Xerces is now reviewing applications for 2013 Joan Mosenthal DeWind Award proposals. This award provides two students each year with an award of $3,750 each for research into the conservation of Lepidoptera, made possible by the generosity of Bill DeWind, husband of longtime Xerces supporter and pioneering member Joan Mosenthal DeWind.
SE Monarchs, Milkweeds, & Hostplants
The Florida Museum of Natural History, in collaboration with the Xerces Society and the Butterfly Conservation Initiative, is pleased to announce the release of this new Southeast Monarch/milkweed/butterfly/hostplant brochure.
IUCN SSC Butterfly Specialist Group
The Xerces Society will work to give butterflies a global voice through the newly re-formed IUCN SSC Butterfly Specialist Group.
Red List of Butterflies and Moths
An online list of species profiles that review the status of the approximately fifty North American butterflies and moths most at-risk of extinction.
- Is it true that household batteries no longer must be recycled?
Alkaline batteries now fall below federal and state hazardous waste standards and can be disposed of with regular trash. However, button cell batteries and rechargeable batteries must continue to be recycled. Here is a link to a pamphlet on battery recycling published by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection: batteries.pub - batteries.pdf
2. Is true that sometime in the future plastic bags will no longer be permitted for the disposal of household trash?
The short answer is I don’t know. I could find nothing on the Web about the future. Currently, it appears that most municipalities require that household trash be placed in trash cans or plastic bags. It also appears that towns that collect yard waste do not permit plastic bags to be used for yard waste. Some require the use of paper bags, which they will sell you.
There is a great deal of variability from town to town about what will be collected and how it should be disposed of. Contact your municipality if you have any questions.
An interesting environmental article:
The 3/18/2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal had an article titled “A Science of Signs of Spring.” The article describes how thousands of volunteers are observing and recording when flowering plants first bloom, when Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds first appear, and when robins nest. These and other observations are being recorded across the country in an effort to determine how plants and animals are responding to long-term temperature changes.
In 2007, the US Geological Survey and Nation Science Foundation set up the National Phenology Network to enlist volunteer observers. Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events. This year the network has more than 6000 people tracking 900 species of plants and animals in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. So far the group has logged more than two million data points, using an online program called Nature’s Notebook. The following link to the USA National Phenology Network explains how you can participate: Ways to Participate | USA National Phenology Network
Other related projects include Project Budburst, which has more than 15,000 volunteers across the country, and an educational project called Journey North, which utilizes students in 6000 schools to report sightings of migrating birds, butterflies, flowering plants.
The movie shown at the March meeting, on African Honey Bees, discussed the importance of European Honey Bees to commercial agriculture. However, they are not the only pollinators working in our fields and gardens. The link below takes you to the website of the Northeastern IPM Center, which has a brief article on native pollinators and a link to download an interesting guide on native pollinators.
The emphasis is on pollinators for apple orchards, but the information is useful to anybody interested in identifying and providing suitable environments for these beneficial insects.
An interesting book on native plants:
As part of my Environmental Stewards course, we read Plant Communities of New Jersey by Beryl Robichard Collins and Karl H. Anderson. The book discusses the conditions that influence the natural vegetation of the state, such as geology, soil, climate, and human influences. It describes the various habitats in New Jersey and the plant communities found in them. A feature of the book that is very useful to the native plant enthusiast is that it tells you where you can go to see these communities.
The book is published by Rutgers University Press and is available from Amazon.