CU Reporter October/November/December 2007

Updates from Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.

Annual Meeting, November 14 – 6:30 p.m.
(Our normal schedule is the second Wednesday of odd-numbered months)
Millville Public Library, Gant Room
Election of Officer and Trustees

Jane speaks at press conference. Flood waters at Willow Grove LakePlease vote! – This November election will allow you to support critical bridge funding for the Green Acres / Garden State Preservation Trust by voting yes on Ballot Question #3.  This bond is crucial for the continuance of open space preservation in NJ.  Clean air and water depend on us.  Please vote YES! Thank you.

A Live Showing
Of the NJN Documentary
Drought and Deluge

This documentary explores the topic of how global warming and changing weather patterns will affect New Jersey today and into the future. With the help of an array of environmental experts, Ed Rodgers examines how the loss of Artic ice shelves hundreds of miles away and the resultant rise in sea levels may have a direct impact on New Jersey, its wildlife and habitat, and even its water supply.  The program observes the effect of warmer temperatures in New Jersey and the change in behavior in the state’s wildlife–from greater winter activity in the black bear population to decreased numbers of migrating Monarch butterflies. The recent flooding along the Delaware River will be examined in the program, as will the models New Jersey uses to prepare for severe weather, simultaneous emergency events, and the protection of the state’s infrastructure.

Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc. celebrated 28 years of volunteer service at its “Ah, Why Knot Awards Dinner” on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2007 at Union Lake Sailing and Tennis Club.  Our volunteers devoted thousands of hours of to the community this year.  There were five “Ah Why Knots” and one Presidential Award given at this year’s dinner.  The awardees were Sue Leopold, Maryanne Russell, Pam Higginbotham, Laura Johnson, Allen Jackson and Presidential Awardee Mary Lou Barbose.  Five were presented with a red knot decoy and Mary Lou received a portrait of herself and her beloved golden retriever “Marla.” This award is fitting testimonial for an organization whose members continually stand at a crossroads advocating a path of protection vs. destruction, just as the red knots’ fate teeters between recovery and extinction with a multitude of volunteers advocating for survival of the species. Based upon our members’ continual response to a call to duty, we dubbed the award the “Ah, Why Knot Award.”

Why Knot DinnerAllen Jackson was awarded an “Ah, Why Knot Award” for his massive efforts in restoring and increasing purple martin populations.  This year alone, he and the folks he mentors have banded over 6000 purple martins in New Jersey. In fact, because of his efforts, over half of the purple martins banded in North America are banded here in NJ.  Purple martins are entirely dependent on people to provide housing east of the Mississippi.  Allen has also taught numerous individuals how to manage successful martin colonies. Recently, we found out that not only does Allen devote untold hours to his love of martins, but he also purchases his own bands and naturally has many travel expenses.  This year and in coming years, CU will help Allen to defray these costs with a banding stipend.

Sue Leopold and Maryanne Russell, “the dynamic duo,” have been a team on the annual Chili Dinner planning committee for the past two years.  They have helped define the event that raises critical funding to support our activities: i.e., educational programs, hosting the scientists, Bevin skiffs, campfire recollections, Elevate, website updates, speakers and the like.

Laura Johnson is also a member of the Chili Dinner planning committee.  Laura’s award recognizes many years of service to the organization, especially in “Hosting Events.”  Laura has been a key hostess at our documentary premiers, the Chili Dinner, and the New Members Orientation event.  Additionally, Laura’s financial assistance enabled us to print the first edition of Down Jersey: Celebrating Our Sense of Place Teacher’s Curriculum.   These lesson plans have since been distributed to over 500 teachers.

Pam Higginbotham hails from Atlanta, GA and proves one doesn’t have to live in our region to have a major impact on what we accomplish. The CU World Series of Birding Team, CU Birding Cumberland -“Fish Hawks”- took 2nd place in Limited Geographic Area, having identified 151 species!  All of our team members did an excellent job: Pam Higginbotham, Karen Johnson, Clay Sutton, Katharine Patterson, Janet Crawford and team captain Diane Jones.  But no one could dispute the extra effort that team member Pam Higginbotham brought to the team in both enthusiasm and fundraising. At our press conference leading up to the event Pam eloquently addressed why visitors come to our region to observe wildlife and what that means to the local economy.  Pam kept a diary of the sightings, took photos, and compiled a professional scrapbook for each team member; she clearly exemplifies small but mighty. Pam actually raised as much money as the other team members combined— and while in Atlanta, GA.  Pam is VP of Network Services at Bank of America. There she encouraged 20 some employees to participate in supporting the team and made sure each was enrolled in the Bank’s matching gifts program! Pam also scheduled her trips to NJ to correspond with the Eagle Festival and “Ah, Why Knot Awards” not only to bird but also to help out with our fundraisers!  She cooked chili and helped with the auction.

Mary Lou Barbose and buddy, MariaOur Presidential Award Winner is Mary Lou Barbose, who truly takes the prize for years of service.  For over 13 years Mary Lou was our Corresponding Secretary.  She entered every receipt into the record and acknowledged everyone’s gift for 13 years – likely over 7000 receipts and letters!  She also has represented CU at every Bay Day since its inception 15 years ago.  She has assisted at numerous Conference of Mayors Seafood Fests on the Maurice River.  When our present Corresponding Secretary Karen Johnson vacationed this year, Mary Lou once again took care of the books.  This year she also gifted us her late husband’s John’s rowboat for osprey work.  Our organization is indebted to her generosity and kindness.

The dinner committee was made up of Donna Dailey, Irene Bird, Sue Fenili, and staff.  There are a huge number of thank you’s beyond these individuals and we are certain to miss key folks but here goes- Ed Pio, Rob Dailey, Dave Fenili, Donna Vertolli, Denny Feaster, Tom McKee, Diane Jones, Pam Higginbotham, Lorraine Kiefer, Lois & Ricky Abbott, Gerry Moore, Dawn Amari, Suzy and Larry Merighi.

Our sponsors for the event included Robinson, Andujar & Webb Attorneys at Law, Triple Oaks, Stanker & Galetto, Delgado Electric, JW Pedersen Architect, Raritan Engineering, Design Advertising, Acu•print, Winfields, Legacy, Silverton Marine, Sir Speedy, Dr. Peter Federici and Kathy, John and Janice Ackerman, and Dr. Jim Beebe.

Auction donations include gifts from members Mark Giberson, Donna Vertolli, Congressman LoBiondo,Marie “Riki” Losiewitz, Merighi and Galettos, Dr. Gerry Moore of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Art Parkin and Terry Plasket of Wheaton Arts, River Renaissance Center for the Arts, Triple Oaks, Clay Sutton and James Dowdell.

Our volunteers have posted over 6000 hours this past year to various projects—from osprey work parties, volunteering for fundraisers, World Series of Birding, various festivals like the Eagle Festival and Bay Days and the Purple Martin Festival to bookkeeping and accounting and much more, there is something for everyone! Truly, our volunteers are not only the backbone but also the heart of CU! If you are interested in volunteer opportunities please contact Renee at or 856-305-3238.

We continue to partner on projects with the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition.  Presently, we are building awareness for ballot question #3 bonding a year of the Garden State Preservation Trust.  Additionally we met to review the Millville Build-Out Study with Plan Smart New Jersey.  This forty year old Trenton-based land use research and advocacy organization has experience in a wide range of issues jobs, housing, transportation, open space, urban revitalization, environmental protection and regional equity concerns.  We are also doing work in order to commence a National Heritage Area study for the South Jersey Delaware Bayshore Region.

Members of the Bayshore Discovery Project (BDP) and CU have a number of overlapping members and partnerships.  Tony Klock, Karen Johnson and Jane Galetto lead a birding tour on the AJ Meerwald when it was in port on the Cohansey River in Greenwich.  Jane, her husband Peter and Jill Mortensen are this year’s hosts of the BDP’s Oyster Fest on Friday, November 16 it should be a great fundraiser for the Project and we encourage our members to sign-up.

On October 16 we attended a Scenic Byways meeting at Vineland Public Library where the DOT established a steering committee for establishing a Scenic Byway that runs from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the Cape May Ferry.

Our staff attended the Wildlife Action Plan meeting for the South Jersey Bayshore Region coordinated by NJ Div. of Fish and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program hosted by NJ Audubon in Goshen.  Here we organized priorities for species recovery in our region.  Key conservation organizations from all over the state participated in this event.  Our President, who has also chaired the Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee, gave the opening address.  In 2008 Jane will have served for 20 years on this Committee.

Kayak tripOur last kayak trip of the season with Natural Lands Trust took place on September 9th, at the Peek Preserve. The weather was beautiful and we had an excellent turn out. Stay tuned for next season’s activities!

The meeting for public input on MART’s proposed expansion was held in Vineland on September 18. A number of environmental organizations attended to ask questions and raise concerns about the permitting of the expansion. Associate Director Renee Scagnelli attended as well. CU has submitted a letter to the DEP expressing our misgivings.

On Friday, September 28, Renee gave the “Seasons on the Maurice River” presentation for the Vineland Nature Club at Parvin State Park. About 20 people were in attendance.

Another 25 people attended Renee’s presentation on rare plants of the Pine Barrens at the Upper Township Library in Cape May County. Another presentation, on Swamp Pink, was presented at the Lower Township Library in Cape May County on October 24.

Associate Director Renee continues to work on the wildflower guide that will be added to the CU website. Several of the menu pages enable the user to find local flora by color. In addition, two documents should be added to the CU website by the time this newsletter reaches print: the Conservation Plan for the Manumuskin River, and a document on the Burcham farm, written as a masters’ thesis by Patricia Bovers Ball, who has graciously granted us permission to make it available online.

WWII veteran's recollectionsOctober 11th marked the date of our World War II Historical Recollections campfire at the Laurel Lake Property Owners’ Club. Among the facilitators were Alan Mounier, local archaeologist; Pat Witt, former USO girl; Bill Hogan, former tailgunner on a B24 and a POW, and Jim Owens, who flew 20 missions on a B17. Our thanks to them, as well as Tim Russell for assisting in coordinating the event, and setting up/tending for the fire.  Everyone enjoyed the music provided by members Greg Honachefsky, Tom McKee, Ken Washington, and Renee Scagnelli.  Thanks to all who stayed on for clean up detail.

October 13th marked the end of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance’s six month botany course. Associate Director Renee has attended all four years, each year with a different focus; CU member Tony Ficcaglia also attended this year, as well several other years. Additionally, members Fred Akers, and Steve Eisenhauer have enrolled in past classes.

CU member Mark Giberson was kind enough to donate a table to CU for October’s Third Friday. Our new pull-up, is designed by members Donna Vertolli and constructed by Denny Feaster and his team at Acu•print were unveiled at this venue.  We are making use of pull ups in place of our traditional table top display.  Stop by and take a look at the next event.

CU on the River!