CU Reporter April/May/June 2008

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

Meeting March 12, 2008 –  6:30 p.m.
Gant Room, Millville Public Library

Fred Akers, River Administrator
Great Egg Harbor River Watershed Association

Vernal Ponds

Fred will discuss the importance of vernal ponds and their significance to local amphibians. Vernal pools are confined wetland depressions, either natural or man-made, which hold water for at least two consecutive months out of the year and are devoid of breeding fish populations. These unique ecosystems provide habitat to many species of amphibians, insects, reptiles, plants, and other wildlife.

CU Update

Quonk! What’s that? No, not a duck—but a pine barrens tree frog. Join us at the “Frog Slog”, on May 16th, led by Fred Akers and Renee Brecht and you may just have the opportunity to hear them calling, along with several other frog species. If you are interested in participating in the frog slog, contact Renee for more information.

May 10th will be our second year participating in the World Series of Birding. Last year our team, the Fish Hawks, counted 151 species. This is your opportunity to support our team! You can pledge a flat fee, or you can pledge per species. Last year the weather was good; we would not expect to beat this total by more than a few species. In fact, bad weather could cut the number drastically. Based on last year’s numbers, a pledge of .25 cents per species would be approximately a $38 donation. You may, of course, pledge either more or less per species, or you may opt simply to donate any amount you wish. Please call in all pledges to 856-327-1161, or email A portion of the monies raised by CU helps fund the ‘Host the Shorebird Scientists Program’, which will run from May 12th to June 2nd this year.

It is huge amount of fun to host the shorebird scientists who come from all over the world to study our little winged visitors that feast on horseshoe crab eggs. Last year this meant leading a number of field trips and making dinners for some 25-30 people a night for about three weeks. The dinners included: lasagna, clams and spaghetti, filet mignon, fish dinners, eggs galore, vegetarian chili, ziti, BBQs of pork and chicken, green salads, sloppy joes, stuffed peppers, cake (which fortuitously arrived on one of their birthdays!), the annual game dinner, the All American – Thanksgiving Dinner and more. We also had egg runs for their breakfasts and often they had leftovers for lunch. They make it very easy to prepare dinner. They sometimes even share in the preparation. We try to provide things that they simply need to heat up. A number of folks have volunteered their culinary skills this year, but there are still a few slots open for several dinners, desserts, and for lunches. Others have volunteered leading hikes or trips. Whatever your niche, weíre sure to have an opportunity for you to help outójust call Jane at 609-774-5853.

For those who would like to join the scientists for a day of banding, the scientists have set aside two days for just that: Saturday, May 17th and Wednesday, May 21st. A CU hike is planned for Saturday, May 24th, followed by a pig roast at the Galettos at 4:30 for the scientists and all who have pitched in to help ìhostî our scientists. To participate in any of these events, please contact Jane.

The Laurel Lake Dam Vegetation Clean-Up will be held on May 10, led by Tim Russell of the Laurel Lake Property Owners Club. CU members are encouraged to participate.

BYOB June 8th is our first ‘Bring Your Own Boat’ event of the year. Bring your canoe or kayak and paddle Menantico Ponds with us. Contact Renee for more information.

This is the last newsletter before Bay Days, which will be held on Saturday, June 14th, and Sunday, June 15th. We are in need of table representatives for both days – contact Joanne Murphine or Renee Brecht ( or 856 305-3238) if interested – as well as volunteers who can narrate on riverboat or birding boat tours.

We also need table representatives for the annual Millville Summerfest, July 12th; please see Renee if you are available.

When you receive this newsletter we will have participated in several other events. Our fourth campfire, like each of the previous campfires, has a different theme. This time the theme is ìAstronomy on the Riverî. It will be held at the Galettosí at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 1st. Jane will also host a membersí orientation at 6:15, just prior to the campfire, for those interested in learning more about CU and our volunteer opportunities.

Also coming up are two other events: ‘Birding Buckshutem’ with Laurie Pettigrew at 8 a.m. on May 3rd, and the Wheaton Art’s ‘Eco-Fest’ , also May 3rd, from 10 to 5, featuring Mike McGrath of ‘You Bet Your Garden’. We will, of course, report on these happenings at the next meeting.

CU Updates

Recently, developers challenged Vineland’s new master plan in a successful attempt to have the courts rule it invalid. We have encouraged our members to voice their opinions at City Hall on April 28th.. Many of the modifications in the new master plan were directed at achieving lower development densities in the more rural portions of the City and we asked our members to consider supporting these modifications.

Parvin -Tarkiln Study- On April 17th, CU presented the City of Vineland’s Engineering Department, Planning Office, Environmental Commission, Landis Sewage Authority and the Department of Public Works with our 319 H Grant Assessment of the Parvin and Tarkiln Streams. Fred Akers gave a detailed presentation on how to approach the study of the streams’ segments. Citizens United member Fred Akers applied for the grant on behalf of CU in September of 2001, and he started the project that year with the help of Omni Engineering and with the oversight of the NJ DEP. The cost of the characterization was in the neighborhood of $100,000. The City Engineering Department felt the information would be useful as they continue to conform to State storm water management obligations. The Planning Department explored how the findings might be useful for their needs.

Our joint ‘Adopt a Swamp Pink Population’ effort with United States Fish and Wildlife Service is in full swing. A number of members participated in the swamp pink training on March 29th. In all, we have increased the number of volunteers for this program by 17, essentially doubling the capacity of the program. We are excited to coordinate this program with USFWS. Next year we will expand the program to include GPS boundary mapping.

CU participated in the South Jersey Paper Trade Show on March 10th. SJ Paper provided auction items as part of their ìgreenî trade show, with proceeds going to both the United Way and CU. We are grateful to South Jersey Paper for their generosity.

On March 15th President Jane Morton Galetto participated in a celebration at Supawna Meadows NWR. The event was to recognize federal funding for National Wildlife Refuges. Assemblyman Frank LoBiondo was key in helping Supawna NWR get the necessary resources to reopen their office.

CU was represented at the Governorís signing of legislation banning the harvest of horseshoe crabs until shorebird populations have fully recovered.

We continue to support the NJ DEP on various eagle nest investigations by advocating for prosecution of those who felled a nest tree and also by helping with other eagle issues that have arisen. Additionally, a number of our members monitor active nests under the supervision of the Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Trustee Tom McKee has been creating maps for the River Reach Project. He is also exploring other ways for the public to take advantage of online interactive programs to learn more about our natural and cultural resources. Stay tuned!

Recently, we have spent a lot of time on technical matters like exploring the logistics of accepting online credit card payments for memberships, updating our website to make it more navigable, reworking the home page (coming soon!), continuing to expand the botany site, and developing more appealing email newsletters to send to our membership.

To give you an idea of how often our website is accessed, in the last month there were over 5600 hits on our home page, over 1200 hits on our wood duck box page, over 660 hits on the botany home page, and over 500 hits on the osprey page. This represents a great opportunity for us in terms of potential new members. We hope you too will take advantage of all the information that is available on our website.

Both Jane and Renee are on Millville Planning Department’s Plan Endorsement Task Force. Noelle Reeve of Regional Planning Partners presented the Millville buildout study to the planning and zoning boards. The buildout study was commissioned by the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition, with which CU is involved.

Presently, we are working on creating a Scenic Byway that is anticipated to run from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the Cape May Ferry. The NJ Department of Transportation and the National Park Service Coastal Heritage Trail Route are coordinating this process. The byway has been dubbed Bayshore Heritage Byway. The South Jersey Bayshore Coalition has accepted the role of sponsorship. Jane Galetto has agreed to chair the subcommittee overseeing this process.

At a recent South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization Citizen Advisory Committee, Renee and others voiced their thoughts on transportation issues facing southern NJ.

Our Associate Director, Renee Brecht, recently gave presentations at both the Dallas Lore Sharp Nature Club and the Stone Harbor Garden Club. In all about 70 people enjoyed the lectures.

Other gatherings attended were a NJ Nonprofits Town Hall Meeting, South Jersey Bayshore Coalition, Fish and Game Council, Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee, a grant close-out meeting with The Watershed Institute, and press conferences for the Bayshore Discovery Project.

Of course our days are often filled with the more mundane but also important items of creating release forms, procuring a festival banner, processing insurance and state raffle paperwork, attending financial meetings, etc. We’ve also been working on an online Chili Bowl Cookbook. If you’d like your recipe included, be sure to get it to Renee as soon as possible (

Our organization was also represented on April 12th as Boscov’s held its first “Green Fair”. Next year Boscov’s hopes to make this a mall-wide event

CU on the River!