Monday, January 14, 2019

Want to Lease the Rockport Game Farm Property?

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking for ideas from individuals and organizations that may be interested in leasing the former Rockport Game Farm in Mansfield Township, Warren County.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife last year closed the facility, which reared pheasants, due to the cost of complying with recent changes to U.S. Department of Agriculture avian influenza control requirements.

The 160-acre facility, situated within the 1,380-acre Rockport Wildlife Management Area and just minutes from Hackettstown, had been in operation for more than 100 years. Game pheasants reared at the facility were known as Rockport Rockets.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for projects that are compatible with the rural environment of this part of the state. The goal is to eventually bid out the site for agricultural purposes to a bidder that can improve and utilize the site while providing lease revenue to the DEP.

“Located amid picturesque rolling hills and farmland, the Rockport Game Farm is a wonderful property that could be re-utilized for a number of purposes such as a farm, to raise poultry, a tree nursery, or even a vineyard,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “We are very eager to gather ideas on how this property can remain in active, productive use that is compatible with its rural surroundings.”

The 160-acre game farm consists of a number of structures, including a barn, a garage, rearing pens and houses, a pole barn, and brooder and incubator building.

Diverse uses are welcome provided they cause no detrimental environmental impacts. Those interested should note that the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on land owned by the Division of Fish and Wildlife but that the rule may be relaxed if a bidder can show the potential for significant revenue.

For details and to view the full Request for Expressions of Interest, visit

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

'Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs' Team Leader Training Workshop

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will host a 2-day Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) training for adult staff and volunteers of youth-centered community and/or faith-based organizations looking to offer an ongoing or year-round youth fishing, conservation, and aquatic education program. 

HOFNOD is a great way to introduce youth to fishing, learning about their local waters and other natural resources while supporting positive outdoor recreation activities and life skills. The program is flexible enough to be tailored to fit most organizations.

Participants in this training will be responsible for delivering the program to youth from beginning to end over the course of 22 or more sessions. Organizations that participate in the program are eligible to receive additional professional development in conservation education and angling skills and in-kind support for program materials and supplies including subsidized educational field trips. Supplemental training can be requested for content like fly tying and kayaking.

Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Team Leader Training Workshop

May 17-19, 2019
7th Street & Navajo Drive
Waretown, New Jersey 08758

Your participation includes: two nights lodging, five meals (Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; Sunday breakfast, lunch and light snacks) and all workshop activities and materials. Please bring a sleeping bag or bedding, pillow and toiletries; a water bottle and/or coffee cup; a camera; any necessary medications, weather appropriate clothing and muck shoes or old sneakers that you don't mind getting wet. Please dress for the weather as some activities will be outside. This is a rain or shine training and registration is required.

There is a $40 non-refundable deposit to hold your space and to off-set training costs.

For more information on this workshop and to register, 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Holiday Activities at New Jersey State Parks

Historic Christmases in New Jersey ranging from the American Revolution to the Victorian era and modern day are among the highlights of annual holiday activities planned this month at state parks, according to a NJDEP press release.

“Christmas is a special time in New Jersey, with many activities for the public to recall our important place in history and to celebrate the beauty and magic of the season,” Parks and Forestry Director Olivia Glenn said. “There is something for everyone at many of our parks, from seeing the stately Ringwood Manor decorated as it would have been during its heyday, to watching busy elves in Santa’s workshop, to the always popular Delaware River crossing on Christmas. These activities are a great way to enjoy the holiday spirit.”

Ringwood Manor
Ringwood Manor at Ringwood State Park in Passaic County is hosting the 43rd Annual Victorian Christmas, showcasing holiday décor from the 19th century, while Washington Crossing State Park will host the annual Christmas Day re-enactment of Gen. George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River. Other activities include a reading of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol at Waterloo Village in Sussex County and history-themed fun at The Historic Village at Allaire in Allaire State Park in Monmouth County.

The 19th century Ringwood Manor is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stunning house that was home to well-known ironmasters in the 19th and 20th centuries sits on a low hill that overlooks a rustic landscape, making it a beautiful location to visit during the holidays and winter.

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 16, Santa Claus and his elves will be busy in their workshop at Ringwood State Park’s Hermitage Museum Visitor Center to greet children and their families.

Children can spend time at holiday craft tables, surrounded by vintage toys, trains, Christmas trees, holiday decorations and music. Refreshments will be provided. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-12, and free for children age 5 and younger. Santa’s Workshop is sponsored by Friends of the Hermitage.

Remaining dates to visit Ringwood Manor for the Victorian Christmas are Dec. 9, 15 and 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children ages 5-12. Group tours for 10 or more people are offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12, with admission set at $7 per person.

The Women’s Club of West Milford, the North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, and the Ringwood Manor Association of the Arts sponsors the Victorian Christmas. For more information, call (973) 962-2240.

Santa at Ringwood State Park

To learn more about the 2018 Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor, visit 

A reading of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13 at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, Sussex County. Admission is $10 per person. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Call (973) 347-1835 to register.

The Historic Village at Allaire within Allaire State Park in Farmingdale, Monmouth County, is offering guided lantern tours and interactive Christmas activities for all ages.

Visitors can tour the Historic Village at Allaire by lantern light and learn about Christmas in the 1800s. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 5 to 8 p.m. p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 15 and 21. The 90-minute, outdoor guided tours are $20 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Strollers are not permitted in the historic buildings.

Christmas at The Historic Village at Allaire will offer interactive programs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16. Activities include music, storytelling, hearth cooking, dancing, wagon rides, crafts and a visit from Santa Claus. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children younger than 12 years of age.

Washington Crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day

At 1 p.m. on Christmas, visitors to Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, Mercer County, can commemorate the 242nd anniversary of the pivotal crossing of the Delaware River on Dec. 25, 1776, during the War for Independence.

The crossing led to strategic victories the next day in Trenton, followed by victories at Assunpink Creek on Jan. 2, 1777 and at Princeton the next day. These victories helped establish Washington’s Continental Army as a viable fighting force that could challenge the British Army and its Hessian mercenaries.

Prior to the crossing and the ensuing battles of Trenton and Princeton, the American Revolution was thought to be lost. But those victories turned the war around and led to the eventual defeat of the British in 1783.

Visitors are encouraged to arrive by noon to have time to park and find a good viewing location. A history narration of the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. along the riverbank. Cider and doughnuts will be provided at the Nelson House.

Approximately 100 re-enactors will start the crossing at 1 p.m. from the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, in reproductions of the Durham boats used by Washington and his troops.

The re-enactment is free and will be held weather-permitting. For more information, call (609) 737-0623.

Those interested in learning more about the history and significance of the crossing, as well as the Battle of Trenton may attend a free lecture with Washington Crossing State Park Historian Clay Craighead at 2 p.m. Dec. 15, at the park’s Visitor Center Museum.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

2019 Freshwater Fishing Digest Now Available

The 2019 Freshwater Fishing Digest is available on the DFW website in PDF and on the publisher's site in an interactive format. It will arrive in stores early next week.

The Digest includes articles on popular waters you may not have fished, fisheries project highlights, and kayak bass fishing in addition to regulations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Rails to Trails

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) serves as the national voice for more than 160,000 members and supporters, 31,000 miles of rail-trails and multi-use trails, and more than 8,000 miles of potential trails waiting to be built, with a goal of creating more walkable, bikeable communities in America.

There are more rail trails in New Jersey than you might imagine, especially in the northern part of the state.

Screenshot of rail trails in NJ via RTC's TraiLink
My neighborhood rail trail is the West Essex Trail in Essex County. It's a short stretch of 2.84 miles that runs from the Essex-Passaic County Line in Cedar Grove to Arnold Way in Verona.

Being an old railbed, the surfaces are mostly cinder and gravel. In most places, it is raised above the trail sides from the railroad days and so it is usually dry. Of course, after a big rain and lacking proper maintenance, there are sections where the water has broke through or damns up after a heavy rainfall. Besides walkers and runners, you'll see bikers and a few cross country skiers after a snowfall.

RTC has been around since 1986 working coast to coast to support the development of thousands of miles of rail trails. I wish that my local trail could have been saved to a greater extent. Where it ends in Verona is where the railbed was given over to construction for a row of townhouses. Luckily, the West Essex Trail crosses close enough to the Lenape Trail that if you want to take a longer walk or hike it is possible.

Because railroads ran both through open prairies, mountain passes, across canyons and along riverbanks, as well as through cities, the variety of settings for these trails across New Jersey and other parts of the country are very diverse.

In urban areas, I think it was (and still is) critical to save these corridors as green spaces which can completely redefine the livability of a community.

You can support RTC and also, a free service provided by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, that provides maps and information about trails.

I have several RTC t-shirts that I'll wear when I'm on one of the rail trails which will sometimes start up a conversation with a fellow wanderer about what these trails are all about.