Annual Message January 2002

This year for CU has been marked by significant events. All of us have been affected by global matters and we all hope that 2002 brings us a brighter and more secure future. Our organization aspires to achieve the same goals on a much smaller scale, focusing on our mission of advocacy, protection and building awareness about our local river resources. A new project for 2002 will be strategic planning to ensure CU’s viability over the long term.

The Geraldine Dodge Foundation has offered us assistance that may become the small seed that grows a mighty tree. We submitted a proposal last summer to Dodge for funding toward updating and revising the Cumberland County birding guide which was written by birder extraordinaire Clay Sutton. In the grant approval documentation the Foundation has also invited us to assess the future of our organization. Developing a strategic plan, or at the very least exploring means to perpetuate our organization and its mission for many years to come, is our focus. We have contacted long-time friend of the river Dr. Kim Warker in this regard. Presently Kim works at Cumberland County College. In her former position she was the Director of Planning and Development with the City of Millville and was instrumental in developing Millville’s River Conservation Plan. It is our President’s hope that Kim can help us access her own and the College’s resources to give our trustees and officers the tools to begin this exploration. If the College can play a role in the process it may be an opportunity to broaden our knowledge of each others’ needs.

We have been the recipient of a number of different grants enabling us to complete a number of different tasks. Wild and Scenic Park Service funds allowed us to produce a documentary and to post our teachers’ curriculum on our website. A grant from the Geraldine Dodge Foundation to defray normal operating expenses will enable us to use existing resources to revise and update Cumberland County’s birding guide. A Dodge Foundation employee also selected the Connie Jost Memorial Art Scholarship as the recipient of a special discretionary donation. In addition we have supported many local groups in their quest for funding, including Wood School’s habitat projects, Mt. Pleasant School’s bayshore book, a number of Natural Land Trust efforts, State land acquisition, NJ Audubon education initiatives and many others. Apparently our endorsement is becoming a much-sought-after validation.

We have applied to the NJDEP for a 319(h) stream restoration grant of $56,450. If approved, we will be managing a very ambitious project to improve the water quality of the Maurice River by improving conditions in two of its headwater tributaries, the Tarklin and Parvin Branches. If we get this funding the project will be implemented by consulting firm TRC Omni Environmental and administered by CU members Fred Akers and Dr. Tim Jacobsen.

Bayshore Artists

This past October we partnered with the County College, NJN, National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Program and County officials in releasing our newest documentary: Bayshore Artists – Celebrating Our Sense of Place. As you know, this documentary shares regional artists’ works and their thoughts about bayshore resources, thus developing or expanding an appreciation of our natural surroundings. The premiere was a wonderful success with over 450 persons in attendance. NJN aired the documentary several times to an even larger audience. Their Executive Director, Elizabeth Christopherson, has distributed the documentary to hundreds of NJN supporters. The viewer feedback, reviews and press coverage have been overwhelmingly positive. Local school principal and long time friend of CU Bill Sheridan reported that at a recent NJ Department of State workshop on improving communities, our documentary was touted as an example of what other communities can do to make a difference.

This year we embark on our 15th annual Raptor and Waterfowl survey. Since this is a milestone year the report will include a summary of the past 15 years of surveys.

On the advocacy front there is always lots to share. Last year we reported that we advocated the protection of 420 acres adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s existing Willow Grove Lake Preserve in Vineland in lieu of its being developed as an industrial park. Earlier, in 1996, we had persuaded the City to develop a different site at the interchange of Garden Road and Route 55, in order to protect the 420 acre parcel which borders the Maurice River just south of Willow Grove lake. The new site was so successful that in 2000 the City wished to expand industrial development, and they refocused on developing the river property. Most of you know the details from previous newsletters. Happily, at long last we can report to you that the riverside property has been permanently protected by the City of Vineland’s sale of that land to The Nature Conservancy.

On other fronts: Some might say that we ghost-wrote some cell tower ordinances which have been adopted by local municipalities, and that would resemble reality. How’s that for being evasive? Additionally, we persuaded companies to place some towers in less visually-obstructive positions. We have also been reviewing a proposal by Green Acres and the Better Materials Company that has the potential to preserve thousands of acres of land throughout the bayshore region. On the proposed racetrack in Millville, we have expressed our apprehensions about it but because of sketchy details, project viability, and the need for further information about how or if the project would affect river resources we have refrained from adopting a position. Our only official stance is that we are not proponents of the project and that primary concerns right now appear to involve residential quality of life issues such as traffic and noise.

CU and the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail contracted with the University of Delaware to complete a maritime resource survey. The first drafts have not yet met our expectations and we have negotiated some terms that hopefully will bring the project to closure.

Individuals continue to memorialize the passing of loved ones that cherished the out-of-doors, by asking that donations be made to our organization. This year Harry Getsinger’s family selected CU for this honor and we are indeed indebted to their kindness.

Many of our members elected to increase their gifts to Citizens United for 2001 in light of our nation’s economy. This spoke highly of our members’ priorities regarding the protection of our local river resources. We have much to be grateful for as we enter the infancy of the new millenium. We hope your holidays were wonderful, and that you have a happy New Year!

The officers and trustees of Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.

President Jane Morton Galetto
Vice President Berwyn Kirby
Recording Secretary Gladis McGraw
Corresponding Secretary Mary Lou Barbose
Treasurer Steve Testa
Ethan Aronoff
Leslie M. Ficcaglia
Robert Johnson
Richard Jones
Berwyn Kirby
Gladis McGraw
Joanne Murphine

Meeting dates for 2002
– please mark your calendar
Wednesday, January 9, 2002
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
All meetings will be held in the Crafts Building at Wheaton Village at 7:30 p.m. (unless otherwise notified)

During the winter months our regularly scheduled meetings will be cancelled if Millville Public Schools have issued a foul weather closure. If weather has gotten nasty late in the day please exercise good judgment. Should you have any further questions feel free to call Jane at 856-327-1161. Have a safe winter.

CU on the River!