Quarterly Reporter September 2014

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

Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

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

Gerry MooreDr. Gerry Moore is 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.

November Meeting: Wednesday the 12th, 2014
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Eileen Miller, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Vineland Office
Program: Unlocking the Secrets in the Soil

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about soil from expert Eileen Miller. And it will also give you a great appreciation for its characteristics, and what makes our soil in South Jersey so fertile. Eileen is a warm and enthusiastic speaker whom you will certainly enjoy.

Special Thank You To Bill Jenkins, Floating Cabin Story Teller, Cristina Frank of Pepco Holdings was unable to give her presentation at our July 9th meeting, and Bill Jenkins was suggested by CU member, Christine Ward Garrison, who had found him mesmerizing at a recent Vineland Historical Society meeting. Bill’s grandfather’s was one of the last remaining Salem River floating cabins in the area, until vandals set fire to it. He enthusiastically agreed to give a presentation to a great showing of members in July. Bill gave a warm and humorous portrayal of life on the Delaware River in the days of the floating cabins.

*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

CU Down Jersey Dinner Dance
Friday, September 5th at 6:00 p.m.
Greenview Inn, Eastlyn Golf Course
4049 Italia Ave, East Vineland, NJ
Greenview Inn
Hors d’oeuvres * Buffet Dinner * Live Music by The Shakes * Cash Bar
$80.00 per person

Our Fall FUNdraiser is right around the corner and it’s going to be a blast! Grab some friends and get a table together, and brush off your blue suede shoes!

Here’s a sneak peek at the menu. You won’t want to be late for cocktail hour, where you will enjoy a traditional countryside Mediterranean spread of baked brie with raspberry purée, grilled vegetables, hummus, baba ganoush, seasonal salads, and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. The dinner buffet includes salad, risotto, Prime Rib, Chicken Capris, Seafood Imperial, and more, followed by a selection of fresh fruit cobblers and ice cream. Get your tickets soon for a wonderful evening celebrating CU Maurice River! Make your reservations by calling Suzanne Olah at 856-327-5118 or email cureservation@gmail.com. You can mail a check or pay online here.

Celebrate Labor Day, Monday, September 1st with a Birding Sail on the A.J. Meerwald
A Labor Day tradition, CU Maurice River helps fill the boat, and our members receive a discount on the cost of the ticket. Call the Bayshore Center at Bivalve to make your reservations: 856-785-2060. Be sure to mention CU! Current CU members get $10 off adult & senior tickets, and $5 off children’s tickets, so the pricing is as follows: Adults (13-59 years) $30, Seniors (60+ years) $25, Children (3-12 years) $15. Non-member pricing is Adults $40, Seniors $35 and Children $20.

Volunteers Needed for Outdoor Artists’ Day, September 13th in Mauricetown
Join CU and other organizations on the grounds of the Compton House, which is home to the Mauricetown Historical Society, at 1229 Front Street, from 10 am to 4 pm. This is a celebration of local artists who will be displaying their works in the form of plein air painting throughout the village. In addition, there will be crafters, food, music and activities for the whole family. Volunteers are needed for an informational table and Paint-a-Landscape. It would be great to have two crews; one for set-up ’til 1:00 pm, and another for 1 pm through breakdown. Please RSVP to Doreen, Doreen.homan@cumauriceriver.org or call the office at 856-300-5331 at your earliest convenience.

Monarch Mania, Saturday, September 27th
We will be holding our annual event in Cape May Point on Saturday, September 27th from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. We are planning the same arrangements as last year, viewing a tagging demonstration by a member of the Cape May Monarch Project team in a private wildlife garden and then exploring the neighboring streets for roosting areas. Fingers crossed that the plentiful goldenrod and warm summer have been good to the monarchs who managed to make their way to North America. Please RSVP to Doreen, and she will provide details closer to the date.

Burcham FarmPaddle, Burcham Farm Tour and Campfire/Pot Luck, Saturday, October 18th
Join us for a paddle and tour, or simply attend the campfire. Meet at the Galetto home at 9:00 am and paddle across the river for a tour of Rocky Lacivita’s”Burcham Farm.” We will have a unique opportunity to explore this private property. Afterward, we will visit some of the former farm marshes on the river. The paddle is expected to end around lunchtime. Feel free to pack a lunch that you can leave refrigerated at Galettos’, then picnic afterward or head home. All are invited to a potluck and campfire and pot luck at 5:30 pm at the Galettos’, 22 Brittany Lane, Millville, NJ. In the event of rain we will bring the event indoors.

Email Doreen or call the office with questions or to register for the event 856-300-5331. And please call or email Jane, or 609-774-5853, to let her know what you wish to bring to the pot luck dinner.

Waltman Park Birding and Botany Walks and Tuesdays on the Fly
Our Saturday walks start again on the third Saturday of the month at 9:30 am into the fall on the following dates: September 20st, October 18th and November 15th. There will be no walk in December. Free and open to the public, the walks are a great way to get a friend involved in CU Maurice River.

Our Tuesday walks are “On the Fly,” meaning that the walk leader may decide to take the group to another nearby wildlife viewing area. Meet at Waltman Park at 9:00 am and be ready for adventure! Future Tuesday dates are September 23th, October 21nd and November 18th. No walk in December. Free and open to the public.

Recent Events

We had a beautiful Memorial Day Birding Sail aboard the AJ Meerwald, with a full boat and lots of great sightings. The weather was marvelous and the river was alive with birds and other wildlife. Osprey chicks were abundant as always. Many thanks to CU Fish Hawks and spotters extraordinaire Tony Klock and Kathy Michel for building a very respectable list on the trip!

“Ribbit, ribbit” or no “Ribbit, ribbit? That was the question on this year’s Frog Slog. As you may know each frog species has its own unique call. So on May 30th as we ventured into a vernal pond for our Annual Frog Slog, we expected to be serenaded by a chorus or cacophony of frog songs. Instead the evening was a bit chilly and since frogs are triggered to sing by warmer temperatures, things were rather quiet. However, our expert and not-so-expert frog seekers were not to be deterred and in the long run we found a number of species to place in a tank for the kids and adults alike to observe. As usual the kids’ reactions did not disappoint and you bet we didn’t let Art Linkletter down either, as the kids did say the darnedest things. Lots of sweet squeals and odd noises. Watershed Fred from the Egg Harbor Watershed Association once again led the educational presentation before we ventured into the pond. All in all if you have never been, don’t miss out on next year’s Frog Slog.

Horseshoe CrabAs part of the second year of the ReTurn the Favor program, CU volunteers took on East Point as their area for freeing impinged and flipped horseshoe crabs. It turned out that this was a rather daunting effort in that the remains of the ramp at East Point offered a perfect crab trap. We have alerted the NJ Fish and Game Land Use Management staff about the problem and hope for a solution before next mating season. In all, our CU team flipped or freed over 1,000 crabs, and over 32,000(!) were flipped or rescued on beaches throughout the Delaware Bayshore. A special thank you to our volunteers Wendy Walker, Mike Golla, Terri Ballas and family, Joan Langston, Ruthanne Haman, Kathleen Haines, Pat Haines, Ruth and Dan Devine, Sharry and Marika Masarek.

Citizen United supports our like-minded partners in the area by having a presence and offering a fun activity at their festivals. Our steadfast volunteers manned our information table and did Paint-A-Landscape with the young and old alike at both Barn Day at the Barn Studio of Art and Bay Day at the Bayshore Center in Bivalve. Barn Day offered exceptionally good weather, as well as the opportunity to see the work of two of CU member/artists, Dee Shiell and Mike Golla, which was on exhibit. At Bay Day, in addition to our information table and Paint-A-Landscape, Dave and Sue Fenili led in the creation of a “found-object woven loom.” This unique work of art was left as a gift to the Bayshore Center and can be seen displayed on the back wall in their dock area. We also shared some slide shows and the LIVE nest box camera feed of our screech owl and wood duck boxes. Thank you, volunteers!

Building Kids ProgramOnce again, CU Maurice River and the Bayshore Center at Bivalve partnered in the Building Kids Program. Here’s a report from Dave Fenili, one of the many volunteers: “Row, row, row your boat after you build it. Kids designed, built and successfully tested their crafts in June. After three months of extracurricular work, students from Cumberland Regional High School and Bridgeton Middle School went to Parvin Lake to test the durability of boats they helped create. Also, fifth graders from Our Lady Star of the Sea’s school in Atlantic City built two boats and tested them in the inland waterway in Atlantic City. The students worked with CU and BCB volunteers to construct both Garvey and Bevin Skiff boats using hand tools and traditional skills. The program gets kids to learn new skills and work together as a team.” A special thanks to Bill Sheridan, David Zane, Dave Fenili, Frank Kammerer, Steve Gates, and others for guiding the kids through many weeks of construction of the boats.

June 21st was a busy Saturday for CU! We had a walk in Waltman Park, and a crew of about dozen paddled down the river from the park to the Galetto residence, with stops at the artesian well and The Bluffs. Jane did her usual terrific job providing history and interpretation along the way. Late in the afternoon, Mary Ann and Tim Russell opened their home for our new member orientation, followed by a potluck and campfire in their beautiful yard on the river. About 35 people stayed well past dark for singing around the campfire, led by Carl Homan. Thank you very much to Tim and Mary Ann!

Owl web camOur nest box webcam set up was a bit of a challenge. Some highlights were watching the baby wood duck chicks in their nesting box, and after less than 24 hours their speedy 45 second exit. Those of you who are signed up for our electronic news got a real treat. If you missed the written account of Jane and Dee Shiell’s escapades on the day of the great escape you can still watch it on Youtube.com by searching for “wood duck exodus” or click here.

Our screech owl finally threw in the towel after 35 or so days of sitting on eggs – we assume they were not viable. Prior to leaving the nest box, their evening routine was very elaborate and worth the watch. So next spring we will once again venture to bring you live footage from nesting boxes. This is clearly an unpredictable effort.

Banding ospreyThis year we wrapped up the osprey season banding 70 chicks. While not a record it was a respectable year for production. We got out a number of new folks for a banding experience; possibly the most memorable was 7 year old Sophia Mazowski. A special thanks to all the volunteers who helped with guards and nest checks this year.

Elevate remains one of the best days on the CU calendar! The day consists of a youth enrichment group from Vineland coming for a day at the river. This was the 10th anniversary of the event, and we actually had a woman who came with her two children who had been a youth participant! This year there was a great turn out of folks for the event – 17 youth participants ranging in age from mid-teens to 2 years old. There were at least eight chaperones and 17 CU volunteers. The age range gave the day real family flavor.

Volunteers extraordinaire and otherwise "bad boys" Dave Fenili and Tony Klock photo bomb our shot with the Elevate crew!
Volunteers extraordinaire and otherwise “bad boys” Dave Fenili and Tony Klock photo bomb our shot with the Elevate crew!

We started with the slide show using pictures of past years. The slides were put to music, and by the second song everyone was clapping and singing along to “Down by the Riverside.” There were four stations; CU Paint-a-Landscape, canoe paddling, bird watching, and a motor boat ride. We had lunch together and a competitive, yet not very serious, hula-hoop contest. The event concluded with a seine net for fish capture and subsequent ID. By the end of the day a number of teenagers were begging for a sleep-over next year. When the children left it was hugs and hand shakes all around. We did our traditional Japanese wave, which means basically all the volunteers line up and wave until our guests’ vehicles are well out of sight. It is actually a marvelous send-off.

Kid with binocularsOne of our newer volunteers wrote the following in an email that we think sums up most folks’ feeling about the day, “I’m sure some seeds will fall on fertile ground. It never ceases to amaze me that when you volunteer at CU events you always feel that you have been the recipient. I do anyway.” We think that expresses the sentiments of most of us who interact with the children.

Once again, the Purple Martin Spectacular was just that! And once again, the birds had us on pins and needles right up to the first night. Folks weren’t seeing much from the bridge, but we placed the platform generously provided by CCIA in the usual spot and crossed our fingers. A small group of birds was found up-river near Spring Garden Marina, so some folks left the platform to view from there as dusk approached. The Bodacious wasn’t going to make it all the way there by dusk, so we placed our bets to the south. We began seeing some martins passing in a generally southerly direction, then a few more and a few more, and at last – just in time for the sunset gathering – we found the roost site. It is about a mile and a half south of the bridge, and it is HUGE. It is very well seen by boat, especially the Bodacious. For over two decades the birds staged at the bridge. The last two years their pattern changed, so a boat trip turned out to be the best bet for viewing. Already, we can hardly wait for next year.

For the third year in a row, the campers at YMCA Camp Merrywood are being treated to weekly environmental education activities provided by CU volunteers. The programs seek to heighten awareness of the natural and cultural resources of the region. Campers learn about wind and weather as they create “Fishy Fabric Windsocks,” search for the “Presence of Animals,” learn about “Biodiversity,” identify characteristics of leaves, and create “Leaf Prints” on matte board. The children learn how to identify birds and their flight as they create birds from construction paper.

Campers with their new sun visors.
Campers with their new sun visors.

One of the CU volunteers talked with the campers about the sun and the necessity to be sun-smart and each child created and wore his/her own sun visor. This year’s campers also created a “Weaving with Found Natural Objects” that will be placed in the YMCA lobby. “Creating with Clay,” using various techniques including a wheel, proved to be one of the summer’s highlights. “Paint a Landscape” is always a special treat. The campers get to use watercolors as they observe the flora and fauna around them. Arrangements are still being finalized for a “Water-Safety” lesson and some good old, downhome fiddling. If you are interested in volunteering for next year’s camp, please contact Sue Fenili at sfenili@comcast.net or call 856-691-7459. It’s a wonderful experience, and yes—you will help to “Make a Difference.”

Tuesday, August 12 was our Annual Congressional Summit. We have records showing this tradition dates as far back as 2004, although there were years in which we did not convene. Approximately 20 members of the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition attended, as well as Fred Akers, fellow Wild and Scenic Administrator on the Egg Harbor. Each of the groups presented programs they have a hand in coordinating and Congressman LoBiondo was very engaged, judging by his impressions and advice. Organizations represented were ANJEC, Bayshore Center at Bivalve, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, The Nature Conservancy, Cohansey Area Watershed Assoc., Cohansey Area River Preservation, NJ Audubon, NJ Conservation Foundation, American Littoral Society, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and the South Jersey Land and Water Trust. The gathering was introduced to LoBiondo’s new environmental aide, Johnathan Clifford. We also had some informal time over a delicious lunch, prepared by the participants. We requested that the Congressman wrap up the meeting with some of the Committee work he does in DC. These topics were a real eye-opener to those of us who do not deal in National Security matters and everyone wished him well in his various efforts representing the district.

CU Maurice River Advocacy Update

If you receive our email blasts, you know we had a great victory in Trenton in early August, when the Assembly finally passed, with a super-majority, legislation that will allow New Jersey voters to decide on sustainable funding for open space in the November election. The proposed amendment to the state constitution would allow a portion of the state’s corporate business tax to be used for preserving parks, natural lands, farmland, historic sites and flood-prone lands. CU is a participant in the statewide Keep It Green Campaign, and we look forward to a positive outcome in November. Get out and VOTE!

Administrative Update

On July 9th it was announced at our membership meeting that due to events in her personal life, Lillian would remain in a part-time role at CU through the end of August, at which point it is expected that she will wind down her involvement with the organization. This is a mutually amicable separation, unfortunate although it is. Lillian regrets that she is unable to give CU the 100% it so deserves at this time in her life. She appreciates the many wonderful friends she has made, and the wealth of information she has gained through her association with CU. She plans to remain involved and will assist in providing a smooth transition. We will miss the many fine attributes that Lillian has brought to the role of Executive Director.

Moving Forward
We have many good things to report about what we have been doing at Citizens United…

New CU office!Early in May we opened a new office on Main Street in Millville, just east of the Maurice River. You can’t miss our colorful sign, designed by member Donna Vertolli, of Design Advertising, which boldly reads, “CU Maurice River.org.” We felt this would not only define our digs, but also get folks to visit our Web site.

Over the past several months Board President Jane Morton Galetto has assumed the role of Executive Director, and will remain in that role for the foreseeable future. Additionally, we hired Doreen Homan full time as our Membership, Events and Office Manager. She has been working for CU for almost 30 years in various supportive roles, and has been handling our mailings for all of those years. Doreen and her husband recently returned to Southern New Jersey, where she had demonstrated great expertise with various administrative matters: She ran business incubators in both Millville and Vineland; conducted start-up seminars for businesses; and led the Millville Chamber of Commerce. Doreen describes the current work with CU as her “dream job.” Many may not know that she also has a degree in biology from West Virginia University. With such diverse skills and experience, who knows what the future might bring? We are very pleased to welcome her on board.

Search for Program Manager
We have just begun our search for an additional employee, with skills to complement those of Jane and Doreen. In particular, we’re looking for someone with a background in such areas as natural science, environmental policy, teaching or communications, who can help with the preservation and enjoyment of our Down Jersey resources. This individual will primarily write our communications, lead our educational programs, orchestrate advocacy and coordinate our research elements – a Program Manager. If you know of individuals who might be good candidates for this position please relay that information to Jane or Doreen at 856-300-5331. Better yet, share the job description and application instructions with any prospects you like.

Keep an eye out for our annual membership renewal request, and consider giving the gift of membership to a friend. Membership is set at $20 for individuals and $30 for families. Mail your check to PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332 or pay online.

And thanks to all those who give the equally important gift of your time.
We couldn’t do all this without you!

CU on the River!