Quarterly Reporter March 2015

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

Our Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Speaker: Elizabeth Schuster,
The Nature Conservancy
Leveraging economics to protect the rivers and lands that sustain our communities

Elizabeth SchusterNature provides economic benefits to people in many forms, through reducing flooding, improving water quality, and providing habitat for native pollinators that boost agricultural yields. Yet only recently have researchers begun to put a dollar value on these benefits. Understanding how to quantify the value of nature can help us scale up our watershed protection efforts. Further, by leveraging the benefits of nature and developing collaborations with non-traditional partners, we can access innovative funding sources for conservation and ultimately increase the level of investment in the diverse ecological systems surrounding the Maurice River and Delaware Bay.

Elizabeth Schuster joined The Nature Conservancy in 2013 as an environmental economist to bring expertise in economic valuation and assessment to their conservation work. Since joining the Conservancy, Elizabeth has supported their Marine and Freshwater programs in a variety of projects including quantifying the value of natural infrastructure for flood reduction and community economic development through nature-based tourism.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Member meeting 6:30 pm, Presentation at 7:00 pm*
George Luciano Center, Cumberland County College

Speaker: Ned Morgan
About the Bees

Ned MorganNed and Doris Morgan will be talking about “The Status of the Honeybee in New Jersey”. They will discuss the issues around beekeeping today, the importance of the honeybee to agriculture, and what homeowners can do to help the honeybee and other pollinators. They will review the life cycle of the honey bee and the various products of the hive.

The Morgans are the owners of Ned’s Honey LLC, a small apiary located in Deerfield Township. Ned and Doris are also president and secretary/treasurer, respectively, of the South Jersey branch of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association. Both are leaders of the Cumberland County 4-H WannaBees club. Ned started beekeeping in 2008 after taking Rutgers University’s “Bee-ginning Beekeeping” course. His wife Doris joined Ned in beekeeping in 2012 after taking the Jersey Cape Beekeeping Association classes. In addition to Ned’s Honey LLC’s honey products, the Morgans also provide honeybees for pollination.

By 2014, Ned and Doris had expanded their apiary to 16 hives and harvested 660 pounds of honey. Doris also makes candles from the beeswax. Ned’s Honey LLC was recognized with Deerfield Township’s Farmer of the Year Award. Doris Morgan was the 2014 Rutgers Master Gardner of the Year for Cumberland County.

Upcoming Events for Members and Friends

Chili guyThe Chili Bowl – Tickets are officially sold out! If you would still like to attend, please call Doreen Homan at 856-300-5331 or email her at doreen.homan@cumauriceriver.org, to be added to our waiting list. The event will take place on March 7 at 6:30 pm, at Rosary Hall, Padre Pio Parish, Dante and Cornucopia Aves., East Vineland. Many prior notifications have gone out. The next newsletter will report on the festivities. The Events Committee has been giving it their all for a great evening.

River Renaissance Center for the Arts – On March 20th CU Maurice River will sponsor the Associate Artists Exhibition 2015 at the RRCA. Associate Artists are those whose work has passed a jury’s review for this level of membership in the gallery. Quite a few of the exhibitors will be local artists and pieces often feature local venues including our own four rivers. We hope you will come out to join in the fun. If you would like to be a CU Ambassador that night please let Doreen know of your interest Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org or 856-300-5331.

Wild About Cumberland

Wild About Cumberland Update – 10th Anniversary of Kids Outside March 24 & 25 – For the past 9 years CU has been key in orchestrating an “unplugged experience” for over 400 fourth graders to appreciate the great out-of-doors. Now known as Wild About Cumberland, it consists of half a day of classes in the historic Bivalve Shipping Sheds at the Bayshore Center in Bivalve (BCB), NJ.

Students are introduced to concepts such as watershed, wetland processes, tides, habitat diversity, adaptation, uplands, grasslands, biomass, point and non-point source pollution, vernal pools, and groundwater recharge. They use an enviroscape model to learn the concepts of watershed and non-point /source pollution. Bird models are employed for an understanding of adaptation. Live raptors are brought from a rehabilitation center and experienced docents teach about these magnificent animals.

For the other half of the day, concepts are further interpreted in the field. The varied habitat types present opportunities for exploring a multitude of locations: hard wood swamps, vernal pools, tidal wetlands, mud flats, uplands, farmlands, successional forests and grasslands.

What's that scat?

Topics include animal signs such as, tracks and scat, feathers, bones, fur, cavity nesters, food, shelter, estuary, diking, water cycle, nursery, fire suppression, scavengers, and decomposers. We begin with a mass orienting exercise called “Sense of Place.” Guides make the experience fun and educational to build an appreciation of the out-of-doors. Many of our participants have never been in the woods or on a riverside. We help them look for signs of presence of animals. Commonly we see eagles, ducks, woodpeckers and other birds. On the trails we see signs of otters, coyotes, deer, turtles, horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs, owls and the like.

We have a total of 25 volunteers participating in the outdoor hike and are approaching some other retired educators about helping out. If you are interested please contact Celia.Rodrigues@cumauriceriver.org or call 856-300-5331. Training for the event will take place on March 9th with a foul weather date of March 12th.

An evening of family fun is planned at a Campfire and Potluck at the Burcham Farm on April 25th at 6 pm. This is a reservations-required event. Please call or email Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org or 856-300-5331. Doreen will want to know what item/s you would like to share at the potluck. Please bring a portable chair, a blanket, your beverage of choice and wear layers of clothes. We will email you directions to the farm when you reserve. The theme will be Burcham Stories, so if you have a tale to share please come prepared to do so.

Wheaton Eco Fest

Saturday May 2, 2015 10 am- 5pm is the Wheaton Eco Fest. Our volunteers will set up their canopy for what we hope will be a sunny day of fun. Nature prints, a weighted loom, a nature walk and microscopes are the planned activities. If we have a flock of volunteers we might consider adding a few more projects. In the past this event has been a volunteer favorite. To volunteer, call or email Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org or 856-300-5331. In June Bay Day and Barn Day will also need CU Ambassadors.

Support your 2015 World Series of Birding Team May 9th
The Fish Hawks include Clay Sutton, Kathy Michele, Tony Klock, and Mary Watkins. The proceeds raised from their ventures go toward our avian recovery work and environmental awareness of the same. The team will seek to raise funds but we would like to have some dedicated members also raising pledges to support the team. Please call or email Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org or 856-300-5331.

The 2015 Ah Why Knot Awards with special guests, the International Shorebird Recovery Team, and of course the PIGROAST – A HUGE DAY of fun! Great for Families too!

May 16th is the big event! All members and volunteers are invited to attend the annual Pig Roast and Pot Luck with the shorebird team, where we will also present our Ah Why Knot Awards for the year. This is a great celebration at the Galetto residence, and we want you to come! Please RSVP to Doreen and let us know if you would like to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert. Additional entrees, especially vegetarian options, are also especially coveted. Folks are welcome to arrive starting at 2:00 pm for a paddle or some time outdoors, and volunteers are also welcome to arrive at 2:00 pm to help with set-up. Dinner will take place around 5 pm. Please also let Doreen know if you can help with set-up and/or cleanup, Doreen.Homan@cumauriceriver.org or 856-300-5331.

In the morning of May 16th there will also be our Annual Walk at Hansey Creek Road in Commercial Township. Join World Series of Birding Team members Tony Klock and Kathy Michel for a great guided walk. Who knows – possibly other team members like Mary Watkins, Laurie Pettigrew or Clay Sutton might make guest appearances. The walk begins at 7:30 am in an effort to hear spring migrants sing. Tony is likely to show up even sooner than that; one never knows. The road tends to have great attributes, little to no traffic, wonderful birds and, by being on the macadam, fewer ticks.

Hosting the International Shorebird Recovery Team in May – If you would like to provide a meal, or be part of a cooking crew, for the recovery team please contact Jane at forrivers@comcast.net or call her at 609-774-5853. She will be contacting past participants and their team captains. For those new to this undertaking we have been feeding the scientists and their assistants for over 8 years. A team or an over-energetic chef basically makes a meal for 25 to 30 folks. Whew, honestly it is easier than it sounds. It is buffet style and the scientists will lend a hand if necessary. You do not have to clean up or set tables (although everyone’s approach is different). It is an experience you won’t want to miss. If you are a newbie to the process we can connect you with a team to provide a side or dessert.

Horseshoe Crab - Jan Van De Kam

reTurn the Favor – Horseshoe crabs are a key player in the ecosystem of the NJ Delaware Bayshore, having existed for millions of years. Their spawn is critical to migrating shorebirds. Thousands of crabs each year are trapped by rubble, bulkheads and other impediments. Although the training dates and our beach area are not yet assigned, if you are interested in freeing trapped horseshoe crabs please contact Celia at Celia.Rodrigues@cumauriceriver.org or call 856-300-5331. She will keep you posted on the particulars. Last year our volunteers put in many hours that helped save hundreds to thousands of crabs near East Point Light House.

Ring in the summer on May 25th on the A.J. Meerwald’s Memorial Day Sail. CU Maurice River helps fill the boat on this special day, 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. What better way to start the summer than with your CU friends!

May 29th 7:30 pm to 9 pm is the most Family Fun Evening of All – The Annual Frog Slog with Fred Akers. 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 register in advance with Celia.Rodrigues@cumauriceriver.org or call 856-300-5331. We might be trying a new location this year so calling in will be imperative.

Volunteer Opportunities – Citizens United is working on organizing several wildlife projects for 2015. Be on the lookout for projects such as blue bird monitoring, osprey platform repairs, native vegetation planting and bayshore rubble removal. If you are interested in volunteering for any of these wildlife projects please email Celia Rodrigues at celia.rodrigues@cumauriceriver.org or call 856-300-5331. Celia will add you to the volunteer list for your project of interest and notify you as soon as project dates are scheduled.

Waltman Park Saturday River Walks meet at Millville’s Waltman Park, off of Brandriff at 9:30 a.m. led by CU’s favorite naturalists. This year’s dates are March 21, April 18, June 20, July 18, September 19, October 17, and November 21.

Tuesdays on the Fly once again meets at Millville’s Waltman Park, off of Brandriff at 9:00 a.m. and from there we carpool to the super local environs. This year’s dates are March 31, April 21, May 19, June 23, July 21, September 22, October 20 and November 17. Often we lunch at a venue near the destination. If you don’t join us for lunch you will likely return to the Park around 12:30. If you enjoy a leisurely lunch with us, anticipate being back around 2-2:30. The camaraderie of Tuesdays on the fly is really fun. And the surprise nature of the walk adds to the event.

Sue Fenili is looking for volunteers for YMCA Camp Merrywood in Pittsgrove Twp. Sue has developed an exceptional partnership with this YMCA-based camp, in which different CU volunteers take a day to present a topic or lead an activity at the camp. It is wonderful to open the young campers up to the rich variety of things that nature offers. Educators will especially like the program. 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. Thank you in advance for your help.

On the Advocacy Front

We have continued to follow the fate of a DEP proposal to sell off 80 acres of protected space in the Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area. We testified December 3rd 2014 in Millville and January 6th 2015 in Trenton. The ramifications if the State House Committee approves the sale are catastrophic for protected space in NJ. If all lands’ highest and best public use is deemed to be development then many protected spaces will be jeopardized. Our environmental brethren from around the state have joined us in objecting to the DEP’s defying their own mission of protecting NJ’s open spaces. It is a violation of the public mandate to protect open space for future generations.

Recent Events

Volunteer Training Party – CU hosted a Volunteer Training Party on January 28th. Members were contacted by email and phone encouraging attendance. Our program manager Celia Rodrigues developed an agenda for the evening and welcomed nineteen enthusiastic volunteers, who enjoyed the camaraderie of sharing their differing approaches as CU Ambassadors.

The purpose of the party was to have our volunteers become comfortable and confident with setting up for different events, understanding our mission, and approaching people about becoming a member. Experienced volunteers were encouraged to mentor newcomers. The event was coordinated by Sue Fenili, Celia Rodrigues and Jane Galetto. Sue developed and presented demos of different CU activities, including the weighted warp loom, paper making, microscopes and leaf prints. She also wrote lesson plans for each activity, for the volunteers to use. Participants also learned what supplies are needed for specific events and where to find them. A list of materials for various venues will be displayed on the shed doors.

We had special assistance from two volunteers, Sharry Masarek and Wendy Walker. Sharry picked up the pizza for the party and was a phenomenal helper with clean up. Wendy participated with Sue and did the leaf print demonstration, which turned out beautifully.

CU’s Eagle Trail walk on January 10th was led by Tony Klock and Mary Watkins; over 40 folks participated, including an international contingent. We had folks from Argentina, Peru and New Zealand. In fact we now have our first members from NZ. We thought with that many people on the walk we would not see much activity. However, as luck would have it, the eagles cooperated, as did a red-shouldered hawk that made a worthy attempt at snatching a woodcock off the forest floor. There were many things to interpret and everyone had a grand time. It was clear, sunny, and very cold, but in spite of the frigid temperatures people were energized by how beautiful the blue sky made the day.

The 15th Annual Eagle Festival Was a smashing success!
Eagle Fest
CU coordinated the speaker roster and had a crazy active table throughout the festival. The Littoral Society led children’s activities, The Natural Lands Trust and The Nature Conservancy held walks, The Association of Environmental Commissions and local Commissioners handled registration, Cumberland County Clay College hosted children’s clay making, Woodruff Nature Center had their live birds of prey on exhibit, the River Renaissance Center for the Arts representatives assisted children in making sketches of the birds, the Bayshore Center in Bivalve hosted activities at the Center, and New Jersey Audubon coordinated the docents at the viewing sites.

The Endangered and Non Game Species Program & Conserve Wildlife had their eagle monitor meeting and presented at the event. Numerous environmental organizations and vendors were present. The Mauricetown Fire Hall provided some local fare of fried oysters and clam strips. Once again CU Board Member Leslie Ficcaglia was the Chair of the Festival Committee. She, Matt Pisarski, and the County Planning staff did a fantastic job of coordination. The speakers were super and each presentation had 80 to 120 folks in the audience. Matt estimated our attendance to be around 750 people which was a record. The day was cold but sparkling; mid-day was milder than many days that week, and we think that some folks had decided to shake off a bit of cabin fever. We thank everyone for his or her hard work to make the event a great success.

Big Day Saturday June 13th
Do some of the events or all of the events. But for goodness sake don’t miss out… Mark your calendars. The day starts with a paddle at 10a.m. Then at 5:30 p.m. we have an orientation at the Russells’ home – Special for new members Followed by a Campfire/ Potluck for all members. This year the Saturday walk will be on June 20th so as not to conflict with the Paddle.

Address Changes
Please keep us posted on any changes in your email address. Our emails contain a constant stream of reminders and updates that you won’t want to miss.

Membership Info
Do keep your membership up-to-date and/or invite a friend to join. Membership is set at $20 for individuals and $30 for families, although our average annual donation is approximately $75. Mail your check to PO Box 474, Millville, NJ 08332 or click here to pay on line.

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

CU on the River!