CU Reporter April/May 2009

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

May 13, 2009 – 6:30 p.m.
(Our normal schedule is the second Wednesday of odd-numbered months) Millville Public Library, Gant Room

Grassland Birds in South Jersey: Ecology & Restoration Goals
Beth Ciuzio, NJAS

Beth Ciuzio, NJASGrassland bird conservation has been a hot topic lately, as well it should be. Grassland dependent birds are one of the fastest declining group in the north east. On May 13, Beth Ciuzio, with the NJ Audubon Society, will explain why these birds are particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and what can be done to save them. Come to learn about the ecology of the grassland birds found in southern NJ and how restoration goals are being scientifically derived to help these birds.

Elizabeth (Beth) Ciuzio is New Jersey Audubon Society’s Stewardship Project Director for southern NJ and works with private landowners and municipal leaders to develop and implement conservation plans for Important Birds Areas. .

CU Update

Michele Byers, director of NJ Conservation Foundation, presents Conserve Wildlife Award to JaneFrom Renee Brecht: CU President Jane Morton Galetto was recently honored in several venues for her contributions to the community and the environment. These honors included inclusion in the Cumberland County Women’s Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Environmental Lobby’s Environmental Legacy Award, the Conserve Wildlife’s Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award, and she was recognized along with her husband Peter at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts for their contributions to the art community. Our congratulations to her and all of those who received awards.

Note from Jane: I would like to thank members, friends and family who trekked to the various functions over the past several weeks. Each of these awards is a testimony not only to the time and support you give to Citizens United, but to a host of other volunteer endeavors that our members engage in. Many of you kindly donated to the host organizations –they and I are most appreciative of your generous support. I’m simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of letters and the attendance at the various functions. Thank you very much – Jane.

The Bayshore Heritage Byway– In conjunction with the Bayshore Coalition we nominated a route starting at the Delaware Memorial Bridge and skirting the Delaware Bay to Cape May Point as a scenic byway. The state has since approved our application. Presently, we have submitted a grant application for developing a management plan for the Byway. If the grant is awarded our next step will be to select a consulting firm to coordinate the management plan. We are planning to hold a ceremony with the Department of Transportation in May.

Diving ospreyOsprey updates– there is much to report on the osprey scene. We have many new platforms occupied. On April 4th we put up a new platform next to a duck blind that a pair of birds was trying to build on, and 20 minutes later they began nesting! The three platforms that we put up in the fall are all occupied. One that we put up two years ago that had no takers last year is busy. So we have picked up at least five new nesting pair. Predator guards were checked and replaced where necessary.

A special thanks to Larry Young, Travis Vertolli, Peter Galetto, Eddie DiPalma, Byron Robbins and Chris and Becky Hambleton for erecting the nest in high winds and on short notice. Hats off – and actually I think this time we did in fact lose a hat or two.

We have also put together a series of osprey platform stories that will be posted to our website. This pdf document will be able to be downloaded. Hopefully it is 70 pages of photos and story enjoyment. The stories are meant to be both entertaining and educational.

Dave and Sue Fenili put up a wood duck boxWood Duck Boxes– members have been getting wood duck boxes in place. A special thanks to Jimmy Vertolli, Peter Galetto, Eddie DiPalma, Dave Fenili, and Stan Traas.

ORV legislation– We continue to push for the passage of an ORV bill regulating “illegal” off road vehicles. We are the closest we have been in 10 years of advocacy. Presently, we would like it very much if Senator Jeff Van Drew, member of the Senate Environment Committee, would support the proposed bill S2055 “unamended.” Van Drew has been insisting that his support would be linked to the creation of three ORV parks sited by the Department of Environmental Protect. We would prefer that the two proposals remain separate for a number of reasons. First, the creation of an ORV park is nearly as difficult as the siting of a radioactive waste facility. Secondly, numerous members of the environmental community don’t support the DEP becoming involved in the ORV business. In any event, we are not looking to penalize legal riding, but rather to stop the destruction of natural resources, parks, and private property. Presently the penalties are not great enough to discourage “illegal riding.” The Assembly bill- A823 has already been passed out of committee to the full Assembly and still needs to be posted for a vote. Modifications to the Senate Bill would mean the Assembly Bill would need to go back to committee. You may make your support known to Senator Van Drew by calling (609) 465-0700 or emailing

Meeting with City and NJMSP– In an effort to evaluate compliance with our consent order, representatives of the NJ Motorsports Park, the City of Millville, CU, NJ Audubon Society, and the Association of Environmental Commissions had a meeting in order to review and receive an update on the status of various aspects of our agreement. President Jane Morton Galetto characterized the meeting as “positive and promising. The grasslands that the City of Millville seeks to preserve will have the boundaries clarified for further memorialization. Attendees agree that communication was the best way for us to be accountable to our members/constituents.”

Meetings and webinars– Jane and Renee continue to attend various meetings and webinars, such as Chili Debrief, South Jersey Bayshore Coalition, New Jersey Audubon, Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee, webinars on a host of topics that aim to increase our capacity to do good, etc.

Botany website-work continues on the botany website with dynamic pages that show what is in bloom and in fruit during various time periods during the growing season. To date, February through June is completed and July is in progress.

Bill Sheridan’s Retirement – Well, member Bill Sheridan has just retired as principal of Wood School in Millville. Bill has been a true champion for the children and the neighborhood. The faculty held a wonderful testimonial for Bill. Many CU members were present to wish him well.

Did we say Bill retired? Well, we aren’t totally convinced of that. In his last week, he advocated that CU buy sails for the Sharpie Boats for which he and Gladis McGraw supervised the construction, and how could we say no? So a sail maker is sewing away as we write.

Kiwanis Presentation– On April 2, the Kiwanis Club of Millville was kind enough to host both Jane and Renee to lunch. Jane gave an overview of CU’s activities. Club members seemed interested and engaged.

Adopt a swamp pink population/GPS volunteer monitor training took place on March 28th. Volunteer monitoring of populations is currently underway. If you are interested in adopting a population next year, contact Renee at or 856 305 3238.

Board meeting– The Board of Trustees met on March 30 to review board policies as required by Sarbanes Oxley regulations. Some of the policies that we adopted went beyond those required by non-profits but are anticipated to be required in the future. We feel that being ahead of the curve on ethical matters is prudent.

NJN Open House– On April 15th President Galetto attended an open house at NJN studios that was designed specifically for the non-profit community. NJN shared how they can assist non-profits in getting out the word about their opportunities and activities. The Center for Non-profits led a panel discussion on Technology and Messaging- essentially making use of personal media. This is an area of great potential that we will ultimately have to be familiar with or risk becoming obsolete.

State Plan– The Office of Smart Growth has released the final draft of the State Plan. The plan includes a recommendation to designate Delaware Bay region as a Special Resource Area. To download the plan, planning area maps, etc. visit:

New Calendar Items:

Uvularia sessilifoliaA Botany ID workshop will be held on September 12th at the Vineland Public Library. We are partnering with the Vineland Public Library and the Vineland Environmental Commission to offer this opportunity. Participants will learn how to use Newcomb’s Field Guide for Flowers to identify wildflowers, and are encouraged to join us at Willow Oak Natural Area to practice their newfound skills.

New Members Orientation– May 15, 2009 we have invited our new members to an annual orientation hosted by CU members Tim and Mary Ann Russell. Maybe you’ve been a member for a while but have never been to an orientation. You would likely enjoy the event. Also, we need some in the know members to assist in hosting the event. Reservations are necessary; call Jane at 856-327-1161. Afterward we are going on a frog slog (optional).

Volunteer Opportunities and Events:

green frogFrog Slog-May 15, 2009 7:30 p.m. Meeting at Union Road and Mays Landing Road (Bennetts Mill). Waterproof boots and a flashlight suggested. Look for the CU signs. Contact Renee at rbrecht.cumaurice@yahoo.comfor more info.

Shorebirds, Horseshoe Crabs and Scientists– We are about to embark on our annual hosting of the shorebird scientists who come from around the globe to study the horseshoe crab/shorebird phenomena. They arrive on May 12 and leave on June 3. While they are here, they normally work well beyond an eight-hour day. Our efforts save them many hours that they can use towards their studies. A number of you help the scientists with data collection for the shorebird studies. We still need desserts, homegrown eggs, side dishes, and possibly fieldtrips. Anyone who helps is invited to the pig roast shindig on May 23rd. We will need side dishes for that event. If you would like to cook a meal or portion of a meal, please call Jane 856-327-1161.

CU on the River!