Wednesday, October 19, 2016

NJDEP Gets Grant to Protect Bog Turtle Habitat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded the Department of Environmental Protection an $850,000 grant under the federal Endangered Species Act Grants Program. The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF) Recovery Land Acquisition grant for New Jersey will go toward the future acquisition of hundreds of key acres of habitat for the bog turtle, which is found predominately in the northern half of New Jersey.

“Preservation of this unique habitat protects the federally threatened bog turtle, while also enhancing our environment and providing a better quality of life for residents of the state,” Commissioner Bob Martin said. “We are grateful to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for our inclusion in this federal grant program.”

New Jersey is one of 20 states to receive funding to support projects that conserve at-risk species and their habitats.

“These grants will enable state fish and wildlife agencies to advance the stewardship of our nation’s fish and wildlife resources,” said Dave Chanda, Director of DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect these imperiled wildlife species and their habitats, which are critical to the on-the-ground success of these projects.”

The bog turtle is native only to the eastern United States and is found in the northern half of New Jersey. The species, considered threatened at the federal level and endangered at the state level, congregates in small colonies often of fewer than 20 individuals. They prefer calcareous wetlands (areas containing lime), including meadows, bogs, marshes, and spring seeps, that have both wet and dry regions.

Once the purchases of the properties are completed, the preserved lands will be managed by the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust in cooperation with the DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program,

CESCF funding is provided through three competitive grant programs: the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, which provides funds to support the development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) that protect habitat for listed species; the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, which provides funds for the acquisition of habitat in support of approved and draft species recovery plans; and the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, which provides funds to acquire habitat for listed species associated with approved HCPs.

The grants are funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was established by Congress in 1965. The fund promotes access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations by providing funding to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. For the past 51 years, the fund has supported more than 40,000 conservation and outdoor recreation projects nationwide.

To learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services Program visit:

For more information on the state’s Threatened and Endangered species, please visit:

For more information on turtles in New Jersey, please visit:

For more information about the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, please visit:


Friday, October 14, 2016

Batsto Village Country Living Fair October 16

Batsto Village, a beautiful historic village within Wharton State Forest, will host the annual Country Living Fair on October 16, 2016, as part of the Village’s 250th anniversary celebrations. The 31st annual Country Living Fair will take place on Sunday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Batsto Village is located on Rt. 542 in Washington Township in Burlington County. The Village, which is listed on both the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places, includes more than 40 sites and structures, including the Batsto Mansion, a sawmill, a 19th-century ore boat, a charcoal kiln, ice and milk houses, a carriage house and stable, a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, a gristmill and a general store. The Batsto Post Office, established in 1852, still processes mail with a postmark having no zip code.

The popular fair will provide visitors to the South Jersey historical area with many opportunities to experience the joys of country life from when Batsto was founded in 1766 and right up to the current day. The fair will offer crafts, exhibits, music, old-time engines and cars, food, antiques, pony rides, farm equipment, chain-saw art, quilting, and more authentic South Jersey country attractions.

About the Country Living Fair

Directions to the village

Learn more about Batsto Village

More about Wharton Stae Forest

Thursday, October 13, 2016

10 Things You Might Not Know About the New Jersey Pinelands

 A view of the Pinelands from the Apple Pie Hill fire tower - nothing but trees

  1. 12,000-15,000 years ago was the end of the last ice age when many present plant and animal populations begin to develop. About 10,000 BC, the first human inhabitants appear in the Pinelands. They are the predecessors of the Lenape Indians that would inhabit the region until about 1800.
  2. New Jersey's Pinelands National Reserve is our country's first National Reserve. Congress created the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) through the passage of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978.
  3. It spans portions of seven counties and all or part of 56 municipalities. 
  4. It occupies 22% of New Jersey's land area.
  5. It is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. 
  6. It is the home to dozens of rare plant and animal species.
  7. Mimosa Lakes in autumn colors

  8. The Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system below the Pinelands contains an estimated 17 trillion gallons of water.
  9. In the 1830s, the earliest cultivated cranberry bogs appear in the Pinelands, along with the first paper mill in the Pinelands at McCartyville (Harrisville). 
  10. In 1967, the publication of John McPhee’s national best-selling book, The Pine Barrens, generated a public outcry to protect the Pinelands natural and cultural resources.
  11.  In 1979, New Jersey formed a partnership with the federal government to preserve, protect and enhance the natural and cultural resources of this special place. Through its implementation of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission protects the Pinelands in a manner that maintains the region's unique ecology while permitting hopefully compatible development. 
And, though it is often referred to as the "Pine Barrens," the NJ Pinelands are anything but barren.

Get more information at:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Watch Out for Deer During Rutting Season

This is the fall breeding (rutting) season for New Jersey's whitetail deer. During rutting season, deer are most active in the very early morning and around sunset, when visibility conditions can be very difficult. This is when bucks are most actively pursuing does.

Peak rutting season for deer in New Jersey runs from late October, throughout November, and into mid-December in all areas of the state, beginning earliest in northern regions.

Using caution while driving will become even more important when Daylight Saving Time ends November 6, causing commutes to align with periods when deer are most active.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is reminding motorists to be alert for white-tailed deer, which may unexpectedly dart onto roads and cause accidents. Deer are involved in thousands of collisions annually in New Jersey, with as many as half coming during the fall mating season, or rutting season, which peaks in November.

An adult male deer can weigh 150 pounds or more.

For motorists, low levels of light and sun glare can make it very difficult to see deer that are about to cross the road. Moreover, multiple deer may cross the road at any given moment, usually in a single file.

Motorists are encouraged to inform the Department of Transportation of dead deer they find along the state highway system at   Note that municipal and county governments are responsible for removal of dead deer from roads they maintain.

  1. If you see a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer doesn’t move, don’t go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
  2. Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
  3. If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads. If you see one deer, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file.
  4. Don’t tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
  5. Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, considering weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
  6. If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
  7. Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
  8. Obey the state’s hands-free device law or, better yet, avoid any distractions by refraining from using cellular devices while driving.

As a result of New Jersey’s proactive deer management policies, the estimated population of deer in New Jersey, derived from a formula based on deer harvested in hunting seasons, is about 101,000, down from 204,000 in 1995.

This does not factor in deer inhabiting areas where hunting is not permitted. The DEP’s Community-Based Deer Management Program is available to help municipalities control deer in areas where sport hunting is not a viable management tool.

To hear a new Discover DEP podcast about New Jersey’s deer population, visit:

For more information about white-tailed deer in NJ

Information on the Community-Based Deer Management Program:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The NJ Bald Eagle Project

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, zoologist Rober Somes will present "The NJ Bald Eagle Project" at the Monmouth County Audubon Society meeting in Fair Haven. The presentation begins at 8 p.m. and is open to all. Admission is free. The program will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 200 Fair Haven Road in Fair Haven.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Whale Beached in NJ Died Due to Human Interaction

Beached whale in NJ - Photo via

A humpback whale that washed ashore in Sea Isle City, New Jersey in early September died because of human interaction, officials say. The beached young whale was 33 feet long and weighed some 20 tons.

Officials with the Marine Mammal Stranding Center said it may have been caught in a fishing line which caused injuries that left it unable to feed. A necropsy revealed that the whale was emaciated.

Only a few weeks before the whale was found, the news on humpback whales was that many populations were being removed from the endangered species list.

But whales still are endangered - listed or not - by human interactions, especially entanglement in fishing gear, weaponized sonar use, and ship collisions. Conservationists will continue to work to minimize these interactions.
Breaching humpback whale

The wrote about the NJ stranding and reminds us that humans have hunted whales for some 5,000 years, but in the second half of the 20th century, whales became a popular species to "save."

"Save the Whales" led to the Marine Animal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act and commercial whaling moratoriums emerged.

What about currently? This year, NOAA Marine Fisheries Service designated an additional 39,414 square miles of ocean as critical habitat for the endangered right whale. Last year, the US Navy agreed to reduce its use of mid-frequency sonar along the coasts of California and Hawaii.

As far as I'm concerned, taking a species off the "endangered" list moves it to the "threatened" list. Pay attention, people.