Quarterly Reporter March 2012

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

Next Meeting and Presentation – March 2012
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 – 6:30 p.m.
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College
Featuring Allen Jackson

“Establishment of the New Jersey Bluebird Society
and the Importance of Proper Management”

BluebirdCU member Allen Jackson has taken his proactive approach to wildlife management to another level  –  establishing the New Jersey Bluebird Society   The North American Bluebird Society is the premiere bluebird organization on the national level with affiliate chapters in most states.  NJ has been one of the few states without an organized affiliate until 2011 when Allen spearheaded the effort in this State to consolidate and organize efforts for the benefit of bluebirds.  Bluebirds are similar to purple martins in that they respond well to proper management.  Come listen to Allen discuss the importance of a State chapter and promote proper management.

He will be providing handouts and will show a number of different types of bluebird houses and the pros and cons of each style house.  A few CU members are already involved in managing a Bluebird trail.  Perhaps you may be interested in working with Allen to establish your own trail or help with an existing trail?

May 2012 Meeting and Presentation
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 – 6:30 pm
Luciano Center, Cumberland County College
Featuring Bill Haaf of Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection

“The Science of Climate change:  Consequences, Solutions and Jobs”

Earth on fireBill Haaf is a chemist by training and recently retired from DuPont after 38 years.  He started as a chemist in R&D; became a CIH; then led the corporate environmental audit program. The last 15 years he was corporate manager of Product Stewardship, a Responsible Care code.  He first learned about climate change in 1995 and has followed the science and watched the data grow into an overwhelming (and alarming) consensus. Visit their website at www.chescocooler.org.

The CU Reporter is now the CU Quarterly Reporter!
Revolutionary?Your CU newsletters will now arrive quarterly in March, June, September and December. We will keep them packed with useful and timely information, while CU saves some money on postage and paper, which we may use for follow-up mailers for specific events. We also make use of Constant Contact for email announcements. If you are not on our email list, please send your email address to Lillian.armstrong@cumauriceriver.org at your earliest convenience.

Up-Coming Events for Members and Friends

In addition to our member meetings, CU has many events in the next few months leading into springtime. Come one, come all! And bring a friend or two.

Watch the seasons unfold on our Birding and Botany Walks at Waltman Park with CU’s fun and phenomenal naturalists, including Tony Klock (most Saturdays), Mary Fusco, Dee Shiell, Jane and Lillian and other great leaders on the following dates:

Saturday, March 17th – 9:30 am
Tuesday, March 20th – 9:00 am – First Day of Spring!
Saturday, April 21st – 9:30 am
Tuesday, April 24th – 9:00 am
Saturday, May 19th – 9:30 am
Tuesday, May 22nd – 9:00 am

We also have three special field trips planned. On Saturday, March 17th, Karen Johnson will lead a tour of Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Designed to accommodate some early evening owl prowling, the event begins at 2:00 pm. This trip is limited to 25 participants with carpooling strongly encouraged. On Saturday, April 28th, meet Laurie Pettigrew and other leaders at 7:30 a.m. at Peaslee Wildlife Management Area for some prime spring birding. Also, on Wednesday, May 2nd, Laurie Pettigrew will lead a birding trip at Heislerville/Matts Landing at 8:00 am, where shorebirds congregate by the thousands. Please do RSVP to Lillian for all the trips above, so we have an accurate head count. Lillian Armstrong, Lillian.armstrong@cumauriceriver.org or 856-305-3238.

The OspreyThis just in!! A cruise on the Maurice River! Bob Lubberman of Osprey Cruises will have his touring boat on the Maurice River from late March through April, and he has offered a special trip to CU members only on Sunday, April 1st from 10:00 am to 12 noon. The cost of the trip is $25 per person, with all proceeds benefiting CU Maurice River. (Thank you, Bob!) The trip is limited to 30 participants, so please make your reservations with Lillian A.S.A.P., and mail your check to CU Maurice River, PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332, or pay online, and write April 1st Osprey in the designation box. The boat will depart from the Municipal Pier in Millville.

Helonias bullata - Swamp PinkApril 14th will be another busy day on the CU Calendar. Renee Brecht will be leading her annual Adopt-a-Swamp Pink training at 10:00 am at Shaws Mill Pond. That evening, we will be holding a Pot Luck and Campfire at the Laurel Lake Clubhouse. Please RSVP to Lillian for both events, and let her know what you’ll be bringing to the pot luck, so we can ensure some variety.

Listen to 2 minutes podcast on Swamp Pink.

New members who joined CU since May 2011 are invited to a New Member Orientation at the home of Mary Ann and Tim Russell on the banks of the river on Friday, May 11th at 5:30 pm. Be on the lookout for your invitation. All members are invited for the annual Frog Slog that evening at 7:00 pm at Bennett’s Mill with Fred (“Watershed Fred”) Akers of the Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association. Be on the lookout for details via email, or contact Lillian for more information.

Celebrate Memorial Day with a Birding Sail aboard the A.J. Meerwald on Monday, May 28th from 8 am to 12 noon. Please register with the Bayshore Discovery Project at 856-785-2060 and ask for the CU Maurice River discount.

Please note this change on your calendars. Our Dinner Dance at the newly renovated Greenview Inn has been moved from Saturday, June 23rd to Saturday, June 30th. CU Board Members Mary Ann Russell and Susan Leopold are working hard to make this a fantastic event, and they have booked a great band, Randy Freil & Friends. More details as they are available, and in the June newsletter.

The NEW Greenview Inn

And, save the date, Saturday, December 1st for a very special tour of the Giant Trees of Northern Cape May County with the incomparable Pat Sutton. This trip will be limited to 20-25 people and will cost approximately $30 per person. More details will be available closer to the date.

Volunteers Needed
CU volunteers are needed at the Eco Fair at Wheaton Arts on Saturday, May 5th, and at Bay Day at the Bivalve Center on Saturday, June 2nd. Please let Lillian know if you are able to volunteer for one or both events. THANK YOU!

The Return of the CU Fish Hawks – World Series of Birding 2012, May 12th
CU Maurice River will be sporting quite a team for New Jersey Audubon’s World Series of Birding (WSB) on Saturday, May 12th. WSB veterans Karen Johnson, Tony Klock, Clay Sutton and Brian Johnson will set out to see and/or hear (or otherwise “identify”) as many bird species as they can from 12 midnight and for the next 24 hours on May 12th. Perhaps they will capture the LGA (Limited Geographic Area) Award in Cumberland County. What the heck is that, you ask? Well, each county in New Jersey has been assigned a “par” based on the known species in that county. And, given Cumberland County’s large size and amount of open space relative to many other counties in the state, the “par” is quite high – 194 species. The team that gets the highest percent of par in its county wins the LGA Award.

So, let’s give our team a big incentive to chalk up a high number by making pledges for each bird species they see. Contact Lillian and say, “I pledge $1 per species!” Or, “I pledge $0.50 per species!” As a matter of fact, we have devoted the last page of our newsletter to a pledge form for the CU Fish Hawks! Check it out! Fill in your pledge, and then ask some friends to pledge, too. Believe us, if you ask a friend to pledge of even 10 cents per species, first of all, they take an interest in what we’re doing, and second of all, hey, that could be $15.00 or $19.50 or more! You get a bunch of pledges like that, and you’d be surprised how much money we can raise. And here’s the deal. You send your pledge form to us, and make sure addresses are legible, so you only have to ask your friends for pledges. Get it? You do the hunting; we’ll do the gathering. And it’s FUN! See instructions on the pledge form.

And please know CU Maurice River pays a registration fee to NJ Audubon/Cape May Bird Observatory in order for our team to participate. We are happy to provide those funds to one of NJ’s leading environmental organizations. After that fee, all pledges go to CU Maurice River.

A New Book is Arriving in May: Life Along the Delaware Bay: Cape May Gateway to a Million Shorebirds

Life Along the Delaware Bay book cover

We are looking forward to the launch of this new hard-bound book, which was co-authored by three of the State’s leading shorebird biologists, Lawrence Niles, Joanna Burger and Amanda Dey, and features brilliant photography by internationally acclaimed Jan Van der Kam. The book tells the story of not only the shorebirds and the horseshoe crabs, but also the intricate relationships between man’s reliance on the bay as a resource and the wide range of wildlife and marsh habitats that exist in the area. CU Maurice River has played a critical role in contributing funds toward the book’s publication costs, both by tapping our reserves and bringing other funders to the project. Our members are sure to want to add this beautiful book to their collections. By purchasing it from Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF), proceeds will be shared by CWF and CU to help each organization’s conservation efforts along the bayshore. Please check our website for purchase information in May.

February 2012 – A Busy Month!
For a short month, February certainly has been busy for CU Maurice River. It is still February as we write this newsletter, and there is much to report.

Eagle Fest Education Days (formerly known as Raptor Discovery Days) took place on February 8th and 9th, thanks to the generosity of CU Maurice River and the individuals and organizations that supported the event through gifts and grants. Although we got a late start on planning, and we had a few scary moments when we thought we would have only one day’s worth of classes instead of two, thanks to the valiant efforts of our coordinator, Sue Slotterback, the two days went off without a hitch – and we had beautiful weather!

Some 350 students, teachers and chaperones enjoyed a half day of indoor environmental education at the Bayshore Discovery Project, and spent the other half of the day with CU volunteers on the Natural Lands Trust trails out on Turkey Point, and at the Point itself, where CU volunteers were stationed with spotting scopes. Kids were treated to great looks at Bald Eagles, Red-tailed hawks, fox dens, otter scat, seed pods, eagle nests, and much more. It was a bit of a scramble, but our hearts were in it because we knew our members would be behind us with support – and you were. We pulled it off for the kids and they had another unforgettable day outdoors. Great thanks to our CU volunteers and to our donors!

We will begin planning next year’s event now, and we hope to see the return of former partners on this project, as well as the resumption of three full days of activities for a larger number of schools in 2013.

Carolyn Draftz shows off Joe Marinelli's fish carving at the Cili Bowl AuctionAnd then, the Cumberland County Eagle Fest itself and our seventh annual Chili Bowl and Auction followed just two days later. Preparations for the Chili Bowl began months in advance, and we had a truly awesome team of volunteers doing everything from coordinating the food, to surveying and packing the auction items, to learning the Auction Software, to taking reservations, inputting auction data and selling tickets. The logistics the day of the event are monumental. As soon as Eagle Fest ends at 4:00 pm, CU volunteers swarm the Mauricetown fire hall and transform it into… well… a party waiting to happen!

The auction items are expertly displayed, the tables are set, the bar is open, and the kitchen is abuzz with activity. Chilis cooking, appetizers set out, and desserts accumulating. We hope our nearly 200 attendees enjoyed a smooth check-in, a delicious meal, and the many stunning and generous auction items they took home with them. Although the final totals are still being tallied, we know right now, we achieved record revenues!

So, thank you again and again to all the volunteers, whether planners, chefs, donors, workers and everyone who shared a hand, a vehicle and a cheerful smile to make the 2012 Chili Bowl a huge success!

Our first two Birding and Botany Walks at Waltman Park in February were very well attended and proved how great winter wildlife-viewing can be! Participants enjoyed our relatively mild weather (knock on wood!) and witnessed the local Bald Eagles, Red-tailed hawks, and a not terribly shy Pied-billed Grebe on the river, among many other birds. Identifying plants during the winter months is fun and challenging, and the regulars on the walks are already looking forward to the emergence of some of the rarities we see along the trail. Thank you to CU’s expert and enthusiastic volunteer naturalists, who lead these walks.

And, finally, a quick report from Lillian that she is greatly enjoying the Leadership Cumberland County course at CCC. The class meets one day each month for in-depth learning about a single subject relevant in the county. Lillian’s team of three classmates put together a “Learning Day” about local government in early January. After detailed reports on the financial conditions of the county and its three major cities, the highlight of the day was a panel discussion with the mayors of those cities. The discussion was lively, candid and had some moments of humor. In March, the class will explore Environment and Sustainability issues in the county, with visits to solar farms, and, of course, a visit to the river to learn about its history and importance to the local economy – including lunch at Bayshore Discover Project’s new café! Any CU member considering taking this very worthwhile course should contact Lillian for more information.

The shorebirds are coming! The shorebirds are coming! That means the shorebird scientists are coming, too!! Our generous shorebird team chefs should contact Jane at their earliest convenience to let her know if they are willing and able this season. That way she can begin to plan the schedule. There will be lots of news to report by June! Going quarterly with this newsletter has its challenges…

And, don’t forget to keep your membership up to date. It means a lot to us.

Second Wednesdays of the odd numbered months from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Cumberland County College, Luciano Center
March 14, 2012
May 9, 2012
July 11, 2012
September 12, 2012
November 14, 2012