CU Reporter March/April 2010

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

March 10, 2010 – 6:30 p.m.
(Our normal schedule is the second Wednesday of odd-numbered months) NEW LOCATION: George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College
Karl Anderson: Mammals & Skulls of NJ

MEETING DATES for 2010 – Note that the new location for this year’s meetings is the George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College; please mark your calendars!

March 10, 2010
May 12, 2010
July 9, 2010
September 8, 2010
November 10, 2010

SkullsMammals & Skulls of NJ Anderson served as director of the New Jersey Audubon Society’s Rancocas Nature Center 1977-2002. Presently he continues as an Associate Naturalist. He leads Pinelands botanical and ecological field trips, in addition to presenting slide programs on a variety of topics.

New Jersey has at least 49 species of terrestrial mammals, including man. Many of our mammals are understudied. Few mammalogists elect to pursue their calling in New Jersey! Most of our mammals are small, many are nocturnal, almost all of them smartly shy from people, and thus even some fairly common species are rarely seen in the wild. But they do leave signs of their presence, including skeletal materials, which can be picked up in the woods and fields or found in owl pellets. Karl’s presentation will introduce some of these local mammals, match them with photographs of their skulls, and help you to identify using skeletal remains. Karl often provides real skulls for examination. And if you have any unidentified skulls bring them along and we’ll ask him to have a go at them (not Auntie Erma, please).

CU Updates

News from the Front, or is that News of the Front? (weather front, that is) Raptor Discovery Days and The Eagle Festival took up a great deal of our energies over the past few months. Due to the February 6 Blizzard – you know, the BIG ONE – the Eagle Festival was cancelled. It is, however, appropriate to thank the many people who worked so hard to give us the best festival ever that never happened. THANK YOU. We had hoards of meetings, prepared lots of presentations, planned and plotted, and then in one shower of power, or is that powder, it wasn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, lots of things did take place leading up to the Festival and since: namely Raptor Discovery Days and the now famous Chili Bowl.

Raptor Discovery DaysRaptor Discovery Days were a huge hit this year. All three days went off without a weather hitch. There were 6” of snow on the ground for the event (the only time we haven’t had 6” of snow is when we had 26” of snow) but all came beforehand. It was absolutely gorgeous weather and scenery: blue skies, nice temperatures – perfect. CU had over 15 volunteers who led students and their chaperones on nature walks. New Jersey Audubon led indoor activities along with Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, Watershed Ambassadors, Bayshore Discovery, and other conservation staffs. Over 700 folks trekked though the woods with our leaders. Renee Brecht is to be saluted for coordinating these hikes on the Natural Lands Trust Preserves (NLT). NLT staffers Steve Eisenhauer and Brian Johnson were super hosts. Each of the leaders attends a day of training on the trails and many of them are career professional teachers and administrators. Our leaders were: Ed Pio, Jim Simpson, Mark Abba-Monte, Bob Moore, David Lord, Andrew Hughes, Jane Morton Galetto, Jody Carrara of Assoc. of NJ Environmental Commissions, Steve, Brian, Tony Klock, Sandra Keller, Sue Leopold, Bill Sheridan, Tom McKee, David McCann, Karen Johnson, Warren Cairo, Bill Opperman, and Mary Jane and Chuck Slugg. We saw signs of, or observed: bald eagles nesting, a golden eagle, yellow-rumped warblers galore, rabbits, fox, coyotes, owl pellets, otter, hawks, and many more plants and animals. Everyone was most enthusiastic. I will share a passage from one of the thank you notes we received from a Bridgeton teacher:

“One of my students… is a bilingual student. He has a terrible time struggling with mastering English in reading and writing because only Spanish is spoken in his home. His struggle and anxiety is present in everything that we do.

The two weeks before the trip we have been doing research on the raptors and the students were each assigned a raptor. They did internet research and they drew their raptor. He has been so excited. Instead of the stress that I normally see on his face he has been relaxed and excited. On the day of the trip … he ran up to me after he got to look through the scopes. He said to me, ‘Mrs., that was the most beautiful thing that I ever saw (he saw a golden eagle!) Thank you so much for bringing me on this field trip. This is the best field trip that I have ever been on.’ It was all I could do hold back the tears. Many of my students that day told me that this was the best field trip that they have been on.

Thank you for all that you do.”

We often receive thank you notes that relay the enthusiasm the students, teachers and parents have for the event. Each has its own twist, and each one generates an impact that encourages our ranks to continue to pursue our mission of creating a greater awareness about the wonders of nature.

The Chili Bowl was an unbelievable success in the face of complicated adversity. When we had to postpone the event for two weeks we lost a fourth of our reservations. Amazing what a blanket of white stuff can do. Folks were unbelievably generous through all of this and we really missed those who could not attend. In fact, our co-chairs Mary Ann Russell and Sue Leopold both had reservations in far-off places. Yet even they prepared food and auction items for their absence. In the end we had a sell-out crowd. Our best-laid plans to eliminate the line at check-in shattered to pieces as we had to handle 50-70 new people signing up and paying. We apologize to all who waited in line and THANK YOU PROFUSELY for your patience.

We received rave reviews from all of you that all the other aspects were the best ever! The most unusual chili this year was antelope! We had 26 different chilis and chefs, 8 bread bakers, 9 dessert makers, 12 appetizer preparers, 3 kitchen champs, four bartenders, four check-in folks, 3 buffet people, 2 hired helpers, 5 auction staff, 2 vacuum wrestlers, and more set-up and take-down people than can be counted. Where else can you pay to work all night and have that much fun? Yes, we do know how to have fun! A special thank you to all the folks who either made and donated food, or donated such a wide variety of great things to our auction. We hope a great time was had by all. If you want to help out next year drop us a line.

Shorebirds, Horseshoe Crabs and Scientists – In May we will begin our tradition of hosting 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 a great deal of time that they can instead devote to their research. A number of you help the scientists with data collection for the shorebird studies. So we can hardly believe that we are bringing this up in March; however, our next newsletter will be only a few weeks before their arrival. So we need to begin to find out who wants to help with meals for the month of May. We will need volunteer cooks for main courses, desserts, homegrown eggs, side dishes, and possibly fieldtrips. Anyone who helps is invited to the pig roast shindig on May 29th. We will need side dishes for that event too. If you would like to cook a meal or portion of a meal, please call Jane 856-327-1161.

ParrotfeatherParrotfeather-planning continues to coordinate eradication of this invasive aquatic plant. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners program, the City of Vineland, and the Vineland Environmental Commission are partnering with CU to this end. Our meeting with property owners, scheduled for February 9th, was postponed until March 30th, due to a snowstorm. In conjunction with the work on parrotfeather, Renee has begun adding information to the CU botany site that addresses invasive aquatic weeds of Southern New Jersey as well as designing both interactive and printable suggestions for native South Jersey outdoor pond plants. To learn more about parrot feather, visit our slideshow.

In anticipation of the Bayshore Heritage Byway, a number of the Bayshore Coalition members including our President attended a training day on signage for the State and National Scenic Byways program. The workshop was well attended by interpretative people from around the State. It was informative and we built a consensus about some aspects in terms of uniformity and differences that we hoped for in a final design product. Basically, we want travelers to know instantly that they are on a NJ Scenic Byway from a sign, but we also want a localized visual that says which of NJ’s byways you are traveling. That may sound basic, but when each area wants a unique identity you can use your imagination to guess how we formed a consensus.

Astounding numbers of eaglesEagle have been counted by our consultants, both river-wide and also we had one station with a record number of eagles. The largest single count for one day in 23 years on the Maurice River–48 eagles– occurred January 12, 2010 (email erroneously stated Feb. 12 which had not yet occurred.). Clay Sutton reported, “At one point, 14 eagles were in sight at once, some in flight and some perched. Many were squabbling over food and chasing each other…we had seen 34 Bald Eagles on the Cohansey on January 11, and the Cumberland County Christmas Bird Count, held January 2, estimated at least 88 eagles in the county with the numbers growing daily.” Then on Feb. 17 we received word from Clay and Jimmy Dowdell that they spotted 19 eagles from one location: 8 adults, 1 sub-adult and a conservative 10 immatures.

Recently we updated both our Associate Director’s computer equipment and our President’s operating system and software. We try to stay current because much of the work we do for our members involves communicating at the best level we can achieve.

On the Advocacy Front

We have been doing a lot of advocacy work on important properties. We worked with a collective of South Jersey Bayshore Coalition members on providing recommendations to the Millville Planning Board regarding zoning for the lands between Union Lake and the Union Lake Crossing Shopping Center.

We have provided our environmental evaluation on the proposed high school sites in Millville. This evaluation is using broad tools rather than the fine detail that still needs to take place next. By broad, we mean the following: known wetlands, proximity to landfills, known contaminated sites, habitat values, records of endangered species, topography, sewage line location, buffers to rivers, state planning areas and the like.

Good tidings

We received a wonderful personal grant and took time to explore existing programs that the individuals wished to have their funds support. This was one of the largest, if not the largest, personal donations to date at CU. We will find out if the individual wishes to be recognized to the membership. We very much enjoyed our conversations with the donors and are grateful for their generosity. Many organizations list their donor and gift levels in an annual report. We have not done that because our members have such wide variation in their giving capacity and so many give such lavish amounts of time. So to date, we have not made a distinction between small gifts and large gifts. We are happy for each person’s kindness.

The South Jersey Bayshore Coalition is working on a display to place in venues throughout Southern NJ’s Bayshore. Jane Galetto serves on this committee and chairs the committee for the Bayshore Heritage Byway.

There are also the mundane and important administrative functions of filing our tax forms and charitable registration. Somewhere in the IRS land’s internet is a narrative, which we provide each year, that acts as an overview of our programs and activities. If you want to take the treasure hunt challenge you can tell us where to find it. We file extensions each year on our reports and thus for us it is a little like memory lane.

Allen Jackson provided his 2009 Purple Martin Banding Season report. He throws in a little about blue birds for good measure. We will post his update on the website. But for these purposes let us provide you with some statistics: Purple martins – 6,058 banded at 110 sites in 11 counties in NJ; Eastern bluebirds – 478 banded at 35 sites in 8 counties; and Tree swallows – 66 banded at 10 sites in 2 counties.

We are also preparing for a number of St. Augustine Prep students who wish to get involved in our programs to satisfy not only their volunteer requirements but also their curiosity about nature. We hope to give them a varied experience.


Jane Morton Galetto


March 4, 2010 1:00 p.m. Country Garden Club, Franklinville Community Center, “Southern NJ Wildflowers”
March 9, 2010 7:00 p.m. Salem County Nature Club, Rare Plants of Southern New Jersey
March 10, 2010  6:30 p.m. Bimonthly Wednesday meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center. Speaker, Karl Anderson: Mammals and Skulls of New Jersey
March 16, 2010 Vineland Rotary Club, Jane Morton Galetto presentation
March 27, 2010 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Adopt a swamp pink population/GPS volunteer training, Shaws Mill

April 20, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
April 22, 2010 Bridgeton Rotary Club, Jane Morton Galetto, presentation
April 24, 2010 Philadelphia Botanical Trip, Western Cumberland County—spring wildflowers. Led by Renee Brecht & Dr. Gerry Moore
April 27, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail

May 1, 2010 Wheaton Arts Eco-Fair
May 4, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
May 8, 2010 Birding Field Trip, location TBA
May 11, 2010, 9 a.m- 12 p.m. Master Gardener’s Club Presentation on Identification of Native Plant Species
May 12, 2010  6:30 p.m. Bimonthly Wednesday meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center. Tentatively, Reptiles and Amphibians of NJ
May 14, 2010  5:30 New Members Orientation and 7:30 Frog Slog
May 15, 2010 World Series of Birding
Mid May-beginning of June 2009 Host the Scientists
May 29, 2010  CU & Host the Scientists Hiking trip/Pig Roast and campfire, tent, 50/50
May 31, 2010 Memorial Day Birding Sail

June 12 and 13, 2010  Bay Days Festival (date tentative)
June 26, 2010 2 p.m. BYOB (Bring your own boat), Maurice River, followed by a potluck (Vertollis), & campfire downstream
June 29, 2010 7 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
July 6, 2010 7 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
July 10, 2010 Millville Summer Fest on the River
July 13, 2010 7 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
July 14, 2010  6:30 p.m. Bimonthly Wednesday meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center
July 18, 2010 1 p.m. BYOB (Bring your own boat) kayak trip, Muskee Creek

August 7, 2010 Philadelphia Botanical Trip, Maurice River Trail, led by Renee Brecht & Dr. Gerry Moore
August 13 and 14, 2010 Purple Martin Festival, date tentative

September 8, 2010  6:30 p.m. Bimonthly Wednesday meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center
September 11, 2010 10:00 – 1:00 Community Event Room VINELAND LIBRARY Botany ID workshop followed by field walk
September 18, 2010 East Point Lighthouse Open House
September 25, 2010 Cape May Point State Park Butterfly Walk

October 5, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
October 7,  2010 Fall Historical Recollections Campfire. Oct 8 raindate Location TBA
October 12, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
October 19, 2010 9 a.m. Breakfast Walk, Maurice River Trail
October 23, 2010 6:30 p.m. Ah Why Knot Awards Dinner

November 2, 2010 7 p.m. Swamp pink presentation at Dallas Lore Nature Club
November 10, 2010  6:30 p.m. Annual meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center

CU on the River!