Quarterly Reporter June 2014

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

Next Meeting and Presentation – Wednesday, July 9th
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Cristina Frank, Lead Environmental Scientist, Pepco Holdings
(rescheduled from January to July)
Program: Avian Protection Programs Along Power Lines

Cristina FrankWhen birds interact with electric utility infrastructure, the result can be bird fatalities and power outages due to damage to electrical facilities. These risks increase in the Delaware Estuary where large raptors and other breeding and migratory birds concentrate. To minimize avian hazards from its overhead infrastructure, Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), a power delivery company serving two million customers in NJ, DE, MD, VA and D.C., developed an Avian Protection Program. In her role, Cristina Frank oversees the company’s comprehensive Avian Protection Program across the entire service territory. Throughout her career, Cristina has focused her efforts on reconnecting communities with the outdoor world, promoting meaningful environmental protection and improving the natural world for generations to come. Prior to joining PHI, Cristina implemented and managed New Jersey’s Important Bird Areas Program as a wildlife biologist with NJ Audubon in southern New Jersey. Cristina also monitored and protected many of NJ’s threatened and endangered birds, including osprey and bald eagles, with the NJ DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Wednesday, September 10th
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Gerry Moore, the Director of the US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service
Program: Native Plants of Cumberland County

Gerry MooreDr. Gerry Moore is himself a native of Cumberland County. Presently, he is the Director of the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service, National Plant Data Center in Greensboro, NC. He oversees the US plant database for the entire country including native plants, noxious weeds, and invasive plant species. Prior to working at the USDA Gerry was Director of Science at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. While doing his undergraduate work he was already considered the leading authority on Pinelands plants. He went on to teach and earn his doctorate at Vanderbilt and now he is viewed as one of the nation’s leading botanists. His presentations are filled with interesting facts about individual plants and their histories. You won’t want to miss this presentation.

*Please note, the member meeting portion of our bi-monthly meetings is now kept to 30 minutes maximum to allow our guest speaker to start on time.

Up-Coming Events for Members and Friends

Frog SlogThe annual Frog Slog with Fred Akers, a.k.a. “Watershed Fred,” will take place on Friday, May 30th from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at the corner of Mays Landing Road and Union Road, Vineland, also known as Bennett’s Mill. Discover the secret life of frogs on this night excursion. Learn to identify frogs by their breeding songs and more. Come with a flashlight and be prepared for wet, frog-sloggy conditions – knee-high mud boots or higher preferred. Free and open to all ages. KIDS LOVE THIS EVENT! Touch tanks available! Please to register in advance email Jane.

Waltman Park Walks and Tuesdays on the Fly – meet at Waltman Park, in Millville, just off of Brandriff; bring a friend!

Waltman Park Walks
Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on June 21, July 19th,
(no August walk)
September 20th, October 18th and November 15th

Tuesdays on the Fly, Tuesdays at 9 a.m. (meet at Waltman Park)
June 24th, July 22nd, (no August walk), September 23rd, October 21, November 18th

Member orientation

Campfire and New Members Orientation June 21, 2014
Please note, all members are invited to the paddle, potluck and campfire. New members since June 2013 will receive a special mailing about the day, and an invitation to a new member “orientation” at 5:30 pm. The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 9 am until approximately 1 pm: Paddle from Waltman Park, Millville, NJ on Brandriff Rd. to the Galetto Beach. Please direct your questions and/or RSVP to Jane about the paddle: email Jane or 609-774-5853.
  • 5:30 pm: New Member Orientation at the home of Mary Ann and Tim Russell
  • 6:30 pm: All members welcome for potluck and campfire at the Russells’; please bring a chair, a music instrument if you wish, and a side dish.

Address: 805 N E Lakeshore Drive, Millville, NJ 08332
(off Buckshutem Rd., just north of Laurel Lake, CU Maurice River EVENT signs willmark the turn-off)

To RSVP email Doreen Homan or 856-300-5331, for the new member orientation and potluck, and let her know what side dish you’d like to bring.

The Thirteenth Annual Purple Martin Spectacular
Friday and Saturday, August 1st and 2nd and Friday and Saturday, August 8th, 9th
Make your reservations now for our Evening Dessert Cruises aboard the Bodacious. Slowly cruise the Maurice River at sunset with local Purple Martin expert Allen Jackson and representatives from CU Maurice River. Reservations are required, $35 per person; please pay in advance. The trip lasts approximately 3 hours and takes place RAIN OR SHINE. To RSVP email Doreen Homan or call 856-300-5331. Cruises depart Longreach Marina, 2806 High St., Port Norris 6:15 pm. We can accommodate passengers with disabilities or other special needs if we are alerted well in advance. Last year’s tours were sold out early, so secure a spot now!

You can also view the Purple Martin phenomenon for FREE from viewing platforms graciously supplied by the Cumberland County Improvement Authority at the Mauricetown Bridge on CR 670 just west of the Route 47 Wawa. Starting at 7:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, see thousands of Purple Martins as they gather for migration. Volunteer naturalists from CU Maurice River will be available to answer questions and enhance your viewing experience. No reservations required for the platform. Bring your binoculars!

In addition, rentals will be available from Al and Sam’s Canoe and Kayak Rental at the Mauricetown Bridge. Please reserve at least one week in advance by calling 856-692-8440. Suggested launch time is around 6:45 pm. Life jackets are required and included with rental, and flashlights are highly recommended. Thanks to Maurice River Township for sponsoring the Purple Martin Spectacular!

Volunteer Opportunities

A number of members have already volunteered to work with young campers at YMCA Camp Merrywood in Pittsgrove Twp. Trustee Sue Fenili has developed an outstanding partnership with this YMCA-based camp, in which different CU volunteers present weekly activities that help young people discover the area and appreciate their environment – talk about fun and rewarding! The YMCA camp runs from mid-June to mid-August. Please contact Sue if you would like to volunteer at sfenili@comcast.net or 856-691-7459.

Past Barn Day
Past Barn Day

More Festivals – Great Time to Volunteer to Represent CU!!

May and June are some of the busiest times for festivals in our region, and CU Maurice River supports our like-minded partners in the area by having a presence at their festivals and events. Please consider volunteering to represent CU Maurice River at an informational table (including a fun activity) at any or all of the following events:

  • Sunday, June 1st – 12 noon to 5 pm Barn Day (Paint-a-Landscape)
  • Saturday, June 7th – 10 am to 6 pm Bay Day (Paint-a-Landscape and more)

To volunteer contact Doreen by email at doreen.homan@cumauriceriver.org or call Doreen at 856-300-5331.

Special Announcements

We are in the midst of setting up an office in downtown Millville. We want to give the office a proper unveiling so look for more information to come via email when we announce our official opening. Also we are happy to announce that Doreen Homan, who has served CU for about 25 years handling our mailing from New Jersey, then Virginia, and finally from West Virginia, has returned to Southern NJ. Doreen will be managing our new office. She is in charge of setting up the facility. The phone number at the new office is 856-300-5331.

Drawing by B. Alcox
Drawing by B. Alcox

We are also happy to announce that the 17th Annual Connie Jost Scholarship Winner is Bryan Alcox of Mauricetown NJ, a Senior at Millville Senior HS. This year we had a number of worthy candidates who were of excellent quality. Tricia Dufford, Chairperson of the Scholarship Committee, said the judges were as touched by Bryan’s words as by his work. “His perspectives showed great imagination and maturity,” Dufford offered. Not only is Alcox an accomplished young artist, but he is also a scholar and is presently ranked in the top 10 of his high school class.

CU Maurice River Advocacy Update

The City of Millville Planning Board has found the NJ Motorsports Park to be out of compliance with our three-way (CU Co-Litigants/ City of Millville/ NJMP) settlement agreement in that they cleared more land than their prescribed allowable footprint for the new “Field of Dreams.” We asked the Commissioners their plans to approach this issue and the response was that the Planning Board was making the Park resubmit and rectify. We will have to see if the solution is in keeping with our settlement.

The Holly Farm and a proposed diversion of space have taken up a huge amount of energies and time on the advocacy front.

CU testified, as did many other environmental groups, at a May 7th DEP hearing regarding a proposed diversion of space. Essentially, a diversion is when state land is swapped with an alternate property for open space. We all voiced our strong objections to the land exchange. It is a very complex proposal that involves an 80 acre parcel that the State DEP protected just about 10 months ago and now proposes to sell for inclusion in the City of Millville’s industrial park. The 80 acres is currently-preserved land and is bordered 60% by other preserved holdings, 31% by the freeway and 9% by a rail line adjacent to the Industrial Park. The property serves as a wonderful buffer between Route 55 and the Menantico Ponds / Creek, acting as a filter for waters entering our drinking supply and the rivers. The moneys from the sale are proposed to be used to buy land at the Holly Farm which, by virtue of a City Planning Board general development plan approval some 12 years ago, is already considered protected in a set- aside (not to be developed) arrangement. In fact we wanted the state to purchase the entire property, which was rendered possible by our winning a lawsuit against the DEP in 2013. Following the proposed diversion a third piece of property, yet to be determined, is to be purchased by the developer and given to the state. We know this is complex so permit us to say the bottom line is “Don’t sell our State’s protected space!” We did email a very detailed critique of this proposal to our members. If you need it emailed to you please contact Jane Morton Galetto at forrivers@comcast.net. Members who do not have email may feel free to write us for a copy at Citizens United, P O Box 474, Millville NJ 08332-0474.

Recent Events

On March 8th. our 9th Annual Chili Bowl fundraiser was over-the top-incredible. We had around 250 in attendance and everyone raved about the new venue at Rosary Hall, so much so the team booked the hall for next year on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Our events team was beyond marvelous. There are so many star performers: the planners, the reservation line, the cooks, the auction items, the music, decorations, presentations, the auction handlers, you name it, everything fell into place. We think if we called out one person’s efforts no one would protest… Suzanne Olah was incredibly well organized, and all team members offer a round of applause for her grand skills. And in fact, the bottom line, this was our most successful net to date!

On Earth Day, April 22 our members represented us at Cumberland County College, and in the evening we assisted at a showing of “A Race Against Time” at the Levoy Theater in Millville. In this documentary the American Littoral Society, Conserve Wildlife and Greener NJ Productions explained their emergency efforts to restore DE Bayshore beachfront prior to the return of the horseshoe crab spawn and shorebird feast.

So, yes, May is crazy busy.

Sue Fenili and Marika Masarek work on weighted loom
Sue Fenili and Marika Masarek work on weighted loom

We kicked off May with the Eco Fest at Wheaton Arts. The weather was marvelous and we had a large number of representatives. The Fenilis added a new fun project to our festive things to do – a found object weighted weaving – that was a big hit. All ages enjoyed weaving items onto the loom. We also had printing leaves on matt board and our representatives talking about what we do. It was great fun.

Volunteers are feeding the shorebird recovery team members; by the end of the month that will be thousands of meals. We have the Ah Why Knot Awards, the Pig Roast, Hikes, A Bio Blast, the World Series of Birding Team, Thanksgiving Dinner, Music Night, and the Frog Slog to finish up the month.

We celebrated Memorial Day, Monday, May 26th, with a full boat on the A.J. Meerwald. In fact some of our members were not able to join us because we booked the boat. There is another opportunity to join fellow members on a birding sail this Labor Day September 1st out of Bivalve. Call the Bayshore Center at Bivalve to make your reservations: 856-785-2060. Be sure to mention CU to get a $10 discount!

At 12:01 a.m. on May 10th Our World Series Team, the “CU Maurice River Fish Hawks,” hit the roads and trails and made a great showing, competing in the Limited Geographic Area category of the NJ Audubon Sponsored event. The team was composed of Laurie Pettigrew, Tony Klock, Mary Watkins, and Kathy Michel. They logged in 147 birds or 76% of the prescribed par for Cumberland County. Only two other teams logged a higher total species count pointing to the fact that Cumberland County is a birder’s mecca of abundance. It is not too late to sponsor your team with a pledge. Pledges over $50 will get our annual signature T-shirt.

CU Fish Hawks
Left to right Laurie, Kathy, Tony, Mary

As is tradition on the day before Mother’s Day, the osprey eggs are tallied on the Maurice River. This year all but a couple nests were surveyed (because of tides) and there are already over 90 eggs counted.

On April 25 and again on May 4th we orchestrated, along with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Drexel University, South Jersey Land and Water Trusts and American Littoral Society, a survey of reptiles and amphibians on State lands. Between the two events over 40 folks participated. It was a wonderful educational experience for all ages. A special thank you to John Choko for assisting in guiding us. The CU turn-out was over the top as usual on both dates.

At the time of the writing of the newsletter our volunteers will just have begun the month long reTurn the Favor, a program for rescuing impinged horseshoe crabs.

Jane Morton Galetto, with Ah Why Knot Awardees Judy Nelson, Mike Golla, Wendy Walker - photo by L. Ficcaglia
Jane Morton Galetto, with Ah Why Knot Awardees Judy Nelson, Mike Golla, Wendy Walker – photo by L. Ficcaglia

The Ah Why Knot Awards this year recognize two marvelous trios of Amigos. Wendy Walker, Judy Nelson, and Mike Golla take home the coveted Red Knot Award. If there is a walk, a table set up to represent CU, an event, something to cook, something to cart, fun to be had, or a member in need they are amazingly helpful and kind. This year Judy and Mike took Vineland’s cooking safety class in order to help coordinate the kitchen at the Chili Bowl and Wendy was a sous chef. Judy participated in The Nature Conservancy’s raingarden where she worked rings around most of the other participants and she was easy to spot because her giggle proclaims her whereabouts. Wendy is known for keeping us all in stitches and having the most infectious enthusiasm for CU’s activities.

Single-handedly she has likely recruited the most new members to CU. Mike is simply always looking to assist everyone. He has helped set up AV equipment and can turn his hand to anything else that needs doing. And he looks after his fellow members’ needs at many levels.

These people give of their talents with great dedication and joy. All three have huge hearts. Their contribution of CU is stellar and immeasurable.

CU Bd. Pres. Jane Morton Galetto, presents to Sandy Batty and Cheryl Reardon (Jody Carrara had to attend a graduation ceremony.) Photo by L. Ficcaglia
CU Bd. Pres. Jane Morton Galetto, presents to Sandy Batty and Cheryl Reardon (Jody Carrara had to attend a graduation ceremony.) – Photo by L. Ficcaglia

And the other trio are the Southern NJ’s Association of NJ Environmental Commissions team of Cheryl Reardon, Jody Carrara and Sandy Batty. The Association of NJ Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) has been active in our area for many years. We celebrate their establishment of the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition and their constant support to municipalities and environmental organizations statewide. Sandy Batty has been Executive Director of ANJEC for 12 years and has recently announced her retirement after 28 years of service. CU Maurice River has benefited from Sandy’s talents for a very long time. Sandy has also generously encouraged her staff’s interest in helping CU at numerous levels. Jody Carrara is Project Director for Coastal Planning at ANJEC and as such she has run many planning and environmental workshops. She has offered advice on a host of water conservation, water supply and wetland issues. Jody lives locally in Maurice River Township. Cheryl Reardon is the South Jersey Bayshore Project Director and coordinates the meetings of the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition. The Coalition is a collective of 21 non-profit groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss local and statewide issues that impact the NJ Delaware Bayshore on a number of levels: sustainable agriculture, preservation of cultural and historic resources, preservation of wildlife habitat, ground and surface water quality and quantity, and economic revitalization that is compatible with resource sustainability and protection. Both Jody and Cheryl have orchestrated local environmental commissioners to help the County and CU at festivals. They have volunteered for a host of CU activities – not only our environmental activities but even our fundraisers. They have helped with registration at many events, sold tickets for the Chili Bowl, and prepared dinner for the shorebird recovery team. In fact Cheryl has driven to Philadelphia a number of times to get the pig for the annual pig roast.

AClive examine horseshoe crabnd this year’s President’s Award will go to Clive Minton, the Shorebird Team’s inspirational leader. Clive is one of the foremost recognized shorebird experts on the planet. His great enthusiasm for life, people and naturally shorebirds dominates his landscape. His infectious love of people brings others to share in his “magnificent” zest for all that he does. Now, I’m not certain if it is his English upbringing or Aussie style, but for us Americans he has a way with words. This flourish for the spoken word is loaded with positive embellishments, so much so that his superlatives act like kindling on a flame igniting all of us to follow his glow. His joy is contagious. He describes shorebird stopovers like cruise ship dinners, in which the birds double their weight and can hardly take off. He paints pictures for us lay folk to share in a complete understanding. He is, simply, the best.

Amstrong familySad note-
Condolences to the Armstrong Family

For a number of weeks we have been without our Executive Director’s usual guidance as she cared for her mother and member Valentine “Val” Armstrong, who died May 12th. Lillian will be working part time for a number of additional weeks while she attends to various responsibilities that this has thrust upon her. During this period our Board President will assume the responsibilities of Executive Director.



CU on the River!