CU Reporter September/October 2010

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

September 8, 2010 – 6:30 p.m.
(Our normal schedule is the second Wednesday of odd-numbered months)
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Presentation By
Richard Buckley, Plant Diagnostic Laboratory Director, Rutgers University

Why Our Trees are Dying

Mr. Buckley will give a presentation on “why our trees are dying.” Mr. Buckley received his BS in Entomology and Plant Pathology from the University of Delaware and an MS in Turfgrass Pathology from Rutgers University. He teaches courses in diseases and insect pests that plague turfgrass and ornamental plants. He is also a frequent lecturer on these same topics, providing techniques for solving people’s pest problems.

CU Updates:

ParrotfeatherPlanning continues for the eradication of parrotfeather, an invasive aquatic plant. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners program, the City of Vineland, and the Vineland Environmental Commission are joining with CU to this end.

You can read more about the characteristics of this plant and learn to identify it in the field on our website. Please report any occurrences to Associate Director Renee Brecht. Selling this plant knowingly is detrimental to the well-being of the natural world. To learn of alternative native pond plantings you can consult our website.

Osprey BandingOsprey Banding—This year we banded 67 chicks. Considering the windstorm around Mother’s Day weekend, this year proved to have a respectable number of offspring. Some nests were blown apart as a result of the windstorm. We actually clustered the eggs back on a grassy section of the platform in these cases and much to our surprise a number of these eggs hatched. We have had a number of osprey recoveries this year and the cause of death is theorized to be drowning and electrocution. This is a leap without a necropsy. One bird was found at the base of electric wires and the other on the shore. It is not uncommon for young osprey to become exhausted and drown.

The Atlantic City Press and Channel 40 were each hosted to an osprey banding. These hosting opportunities resulted in people learning more about osprey and CU’s recovery efforts.

Raptor and Waterbird Study—Field ornithologists Clay Sutton and Jimmy Dowdell have submitted their newest survey, our 23rd year of data. The report is available on our website.

Rails to Trails—We have been participating in meetings and discussing opportunities to develop trail networks along abandoned railroad beds. Cumberland County has been working with a consultant to determine possible options. Many stakeholders have been giving input into the process; a draft plan will be presented to the public for comments.

Congressman LoBiondoCongressional Visit— We are in the process of organizing our annual Environmental Summit with Congressman LoBiondo. The Congressman’s interest in the environment continues to be a passion. The gathering will take place on the AJ Meerwald and involve approximately 30 representatives from twenty different environmental and visitor interpretation organizations. In the past this has proven to be a beneficial exchange for all the attendees.

Presentations— CU members Eric and Dianna Sprengle were kind enough to make arrangements for CU to present at the Pitman Rotary. It appeared that the attendees enjoyed the presentation “Seasons of the Maurice”.

Bayshore Heritage Byway—The Department of Transportation sent their design consultant to meet with the subcommittee of the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition’s Committee for the Byway. From this meeting, as well as meetings with other byway groups from around the state, the designer made a sign for each byway area. The logos have a similar style but each has images that highlight the individual byway’s identity. Our prospective sign highlights an osprey and a lighthouse reminiscent of East Point Lighthouse.

Radio Blurbs— At this point we have created enough radio spots to go to the studio for recording. We are very excited about bringing shows about interesting aspects of the great-out-doors to a wider audience. The spots will also be available as a podcast download on our website.

Winfield'sDinner at Winfields—Our special events committee has created a subcommittee to host our first ever five- star fundraiser. Sue Fenili, Larry Merighi, and Mary Ann Russell have been working hard to create an unforgettable evening. It will be held on Tuesday, September 14th at Winfield’s restaurant in Millville. As of the drafting of this newsletter, the event is two thirds full. If you are interested in attending, please contact Larry Merighi at 856-696-9155. Additionally, CU member Mary Ann Cannon of La Bottega of Art in Millville is hosting a gallery exhibit just prior to the event. The focus will be on locally painted landscapes. Both the Abbotts of Winfield’s and Mary Ann have made generous donations to the evening. We do hope that our membership will step up to the plate as recognition of the work we do at CU and as a thank you for these proprietors’ generous donations to our collective cause.

Shorebird Advisory Committee Meeting– On August 12, CU members Lisa Garrison and Jane Morton Galetto attended a Shorebird Advisory Committee meeting hosted by Manomet Bird Observatory, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Conserve Wildlife, and the William Penn Foundation. Much discussion ensued in regards to what role the Committee wants to play in planning for the future of Shorebird conservation. In past years this assemblage of various stakeholders pulled together many tasks that have become hallmarks of the present shorebird conservation effort. Priorities for future protections and planning were discussed in a very broad mission-oriented format. Specific tasks were not the focus of this initial convening.

Boat Building Project– Meghan Wren, Bill Sheridan, and Jane got together to discuss the future of the boat building efforts that teach children many life skills and build self-esteem. We hope to continue to provide funding toward this effort. Bill is constantly looking for opportunities to connect with people who would enjoy participating in the effort.

Administrative Functions—As usual, a good deal of our time goes toward coordinating our many volunteer efforts. Calendar planning, budget, grant reports, and the like are all necessary for the organization’s well-being. We thank all of you who continually increase the opportunities for our members to; participate in enjoyable activities, advocate for the natural and cultural treasures in our region and in general increase people’s knowledge about the wonders of nature.

On the Advocacy Front:

Holly Farm Update — The board of Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc., and New Jersey’s Rate Council are challenging the Board of Public Utilities decision to allow the Atlantic City Electric Company to transfer the Holly Farm property to a developer. Commissioner Jeanne Fox, and President of the Board of the BPU, wrote a dissenting opinion from her fellow board members. We are in agreement with her points.

Open Space Meetings —Presently the Cumberland County Planning Department and a subcommittee of the County Planning Board is working on an Open Space Plan Study. We have been taking part in this process. We are hopeful that the resulting plan is truly an open space plan that will be an asset to the County. We shall keep you posted on the outcome.

Member Opportunities

Summer Walks—The summer series of walks were well attended. We had an early start time to beat the heat. If you missed the summer walks read about the Fall series below.

Fall walks—A continuation of our seasonal series of walks on the Maurice River Recreational Trail. Join us on Tuesdays, 9 a.m. from October 5 – October 19th. We will be meeting on Sharp Street at the ballfield at adjacent to the Union Lake dam.

WildflowersWildflower I.D. Workshop—Sept. 11, 12-3 p.m., Vineland Public Library. We are collaborating with the Vineland Public Library and the Vineland Environmental Commission to offer this informative class. Participants will learn how to use Newcomb’s Field Guide to identify wildflowers. At the conclusion of the workshop participants are encouraged to join the instructor at a local natural area to practice their newfound skills. Preregistration required; contact

Third Friday October—CU will be sponsoring Third Friday at the RRCA during October. If you’d like to represent CU at the RRCA on October 15th, please contact Renee at

East Point LighthouseEast Point Lighthouse—This year’s event featuring local regional artists at work takes place September 18 from 10 – 3. Events include CU’s Paint a Landscape, seining, scenic kayak tours, performances by the Snake Brothers and Steve Byrne, and much more. The Maurice River Botanical Gardens will be available at a satellite site. For more information visit

RSVP! Space Limited “Ah Why Knot”—This fund-raising event is soon approaching – October 23rd, 6:30 p.m., so invite your family and friends and plan to attend our annual steak and salmon dinner while giving accolades to you, our members, for all of your hard work and dedication to CU and our mission. As in previous years, there will be Red Knot Awards given to several volunteers whose efforts have been outstanding. This year’s honorees are Tim Russell, Grace Richter, and Mary Jane and Chuck Slugg. It is sure to be a nice evening of merriment. You will be getting an invitation mid-September to attend this celebration of volunteerism. A donation of $50 per person is suggested. Contact Renee to make reservations or to help with planning, shopping, set-up, cooking, beverage set-up, and breakdown – (856-305-3238 or If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact Jane at 856-327-1161 or

Recent Happenings

Kayak trip/Potluck—Our final BYOB kayak trip took place in July. Approximately 30 people joined us to put in kayaks at the Union Lake Wildlife Management Area boat ramp. The lake’s water level had been temporarily lowered about 2’ by the DEP to check the dam, making for an interesting trip. Following the kayak trip, we were joined by other CU members at the Union Lake Sailing and Tennis Club for a potluck.

Delaware Bay Book –A contingent of the Shorebird Study team members have decided to make a picture book about the Delaware Bay. Conserve Wildlife will be the administrative lead and Citizens United will be the primary funding organization. The book’s key writers will be Joanna Burger of Rutgers, Larry Niles of Conserve Wildlife, Amanda Dey of the Endangered and Nongame Species Program, David Mizrahi of New Jersey Audubon, and other shorebird team members of note including: Humphrey Sitters, Allan Baker, Patricia Gonzalez, Kevin Kalasz and Stewart Michels. World renowned photographer Jan van de Kam will provide the majority of the pictures. It is a wonderful opportunity for Citizens United to support a project that will create a greater awareness of the bayshore resources. This undertaking will be a substantial financial commitment; if you are interested in donating to this project please contact Jane at 609-774-5853.

Elevate 2010Elevate—This year’s Elevate program involved a number of young children and was expanded to include another learning station on pond life. In previous years we have kayaked, painted, seined, and birded with the attendees as well as taken them on a powerboat ride to visit an osprey nest. A grand time was had by all!

Philadelphia Botanical Club field tripPhiladelphia Botanical Club Field Trip—On August 7, Gerry Moore, Director of Science at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and long-time CU member, co-led a trip with CU Associate Director Renee for the Philadelphia Botanical Club and the Torrey Botanic Society (NY). Attendees compiled a plant inventory of the Maurice River trail that CU regularly uses for the Breakfast Walks.

A second site was visited as well that yielded a population of Schizaea pusilla, or curly grass fern, a species that has not been recorded in Cumberland County since Bayard Long documented it in 1923. The inventory is available online on our website at

Purple Martin Festival—This year’s festival was a successful event. Over the course of Friday and Saturday evenings, over 140 people visited the platform, about 100 viewed from the Bodacious, and about 25 individuals kayaked on Saturday with Natural Lands Trust. The birds performed their nightly ritual in preparation for their impending migration and everyone seemed pleased. Our purple martin coordinator Allen Jackson reported that it was one of the best flight congregations to date.

We hooked Allen up with WHYY’s Senior Science Reporter Kerry Grens and the resulting report was the true excellence of National Public Radio. Nice job Allen and Kerry! Leslie Ficcaglia provided pictures for the WHYY website as did others.


September 8, 2010  6:30 p.m. Bimonthly Wednesday meeting, Cumberland County College, Luciano Center
September 11, 2010 12:00 – 3:00 Community Event Room VINELAND LIBRARY Botany ID workshop followed by field walk
September 18, 2010 East Point Lighthouse Open House

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!