Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center Open House

Pequest Open House
Sportsmen's Flea Market
March 28 & 29, 2015
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily

Every year the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center opens its doors to the public for the annual Open House, which usually takes place the weekend before Trout Season opens. The event is held at the Pequest Trout Hatchery and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, rain or shine. (Please leave pets at home - only service dogs are permitted on site.)

This event is great for people of all ages and there are so many things to see and do throughout the day. The Open House allows the Division of Fish and Wildlife to show off the trout we raise at the state-of-the-art Pequest Trout Hatchery and it serves as a reminder that spring has just arrived.

Each year, thousands of people come to the hatchery to experience this event for themselves. And each year, the Division of Fish and Wildlife strives to make this a bigger event than the year before. This year is no different, and instead of just focusing on fish, we will be inviting many different outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists to join us in our celebrations.

There will be numerous environmental and conservation exhibits, historical reenactors, wildlife artists, carvers and taxidermists with goods and services to sell. Activities include fishing, archery ranges, hunter education (pre-registration required), kids' activities and more. A sportsmen's flea market will be open so you can purchase what you need to get started or to stock up for the upcoming fishing and hunting seasons.

More at

Directions to Pequest

Monday, January 26, 2015

Walking the Columbia Trail

Pequest Trail at DL&W overpass

Most of us will never through hike the Appalachian Trail and only a small group of us will even hike the New Jersey section of the AT, but there are many smaller and short trails in the state that are good for beginners, parents with kids and a day's outing.

I have written about the Columbia Trail which is a Rails-to-Trails project which in Morris County follows the South Branch of the Raritan River. It ends to the north at Long Valley near the nearby Patriots' Path trail.

When in the 1990's the Columbia Gas Company constructed a gas line under the rail bed, the surface rights were transferred to the Hunterdon County Division of Parks and Recreation for use as a recreational trail.

There are a number of other smaller trails near sections of the Columbia Trail.

The Columbia was the Trail of the Month last October on the TrailLink website. They discovered that the Columbia Trail "had the highest user rating that a trail could have: five out of five stars, as well as 70 firsthand reviews when most trails on the site boast only a handful. It ranks number 21 on the list of TrailLink's most-viewed trails in the entire country."

Columbia Trail along the Ken Lockwood Gorge, photo © Sean Blinn via

Information on Rails-to-Trails via

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Following the Lenape Through Irvington and Paterson

I grew up in Irvington, New Jersey and despite its current unsavory reputation, it was a great place to be a kid in the 1950s and early 60s.

It is hard for any of us to really imagine New Jersey 15,000 years ago, but what is now Irvington was then buried under hundreds of feet of glacial ice. As the ice receded present-day contours of the town emerged, such as the Elizabeth River. As a kid, we called that "The Brook" and it's a natural feature that bisects the town from north to south.

The river enters Irvington 140 feet above sea level and gradually descends as it exits the town at Hillside at an elevation of 70 feet. The land east of the Elizabeth River is a gently rolling plain and west of the river is part of the Orange Mountains. The town's little "mountaintop" reaches 220 feet above sea level at Franklin Terrace.

The Lenape (who were later named Delaware Indians by Europeans) were the natives who lived in what is now New Jersey and along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, the northern shore of Delaware, and the lower Hudson Valley and New York Harbor in New York when Europeans arrived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

They were the major tribes that lived in our state

The first inhabitants of this Elizabeth River valley were the Awkinges or Hackensacks, who were a subtribe of the Lenni Lenape. I couldn't find any evidence that there was any significant village there, but before Europeans came to the area there was plentiful game and well-stocked streams.

Around 1676, Newark's first settlers spread out towards the "suburbs" and laid out highways. We know that one Lenape trail became Clinton Avenue which ran straight to the Elizabeth River.

The Lenape Trail of today doesn't pass through Irvington or follow a historical American Indian trail exclusively.  Look at a map of the Lenape Trail (which is a component of the Liberty Water Gap Trail). You can see it go through Becker Park with a side trail that goes to to the Walter Kidde Dinosaur Park. The dinosaur tracks there (including the smallest ones ever found) pre-date even the Lenape but it doesn't tell any of our New Jersey natives' story.

The Lenape Trail continues west across the Morristown and Erie Railway tracks and passes under I-280 and continues along Hatfield Swamp and the Essex County Environmental Center before ending at the Patriots’ Path.

The Lenni Lenape people of our area were divided into smaller groups, but all participated in both hunting and gathering as well as cultivation. Deer, elk, bear, fox, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, beaver, squirrel and rabbit were all hunted for food and furs were used for clothing, bone for fashioning tools, toys, and sewing needles. Sinew was used as sewing thread.

Fish leftovers were used as fertilizer. They made maple sugar and had an abundant supply of natural honey. Cultivated garden plots usually contained corn, beans, pumpkins or squash, and tobacco. 

The Minsi  (AKA Munsee) were the "people of the stony country" whose totem was the wolf. They lived in the rugged country along the upper Delaware and their principal village was Minisink, on the east bank at the Delaware Water Gap.

You might know Mount Minsi and Lake Lenape which are located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

They were the largest of the subtribes and most warlike of the Lenape because of their proximity to the fierce Mohawks of the Iroquois nation.

In the Central area of NJ lived the Unami, “the people down the river.”

The southern part of our state was home to the Unilachtigo, “the people who lived near the ocean.”

These were some of the Indians that I read about as a kid in The Last of the Mohicans and the other Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper. I don't think I had any sense that these people had walked over the same lands that I grew up walking over myself.  Many years later, I taught The Light in the Forest in which a European is adopted by a band of Lenape.

The Lenni Lenape people participated in both hunting/gathering as well as cultivation and fishing. In their lands were a great assortment of animals such as deer, elk, bear, fox, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, beaver, squirrel and rabbit. Nothing went to waste. Furs were used for clothing, bone was used for fashioning tools and toys for children as well as being used for sewing needles, and sinew was used as sewing thread.

They spoke what we call an Algonquian language, known as either Lenape or Delaware. Among other Algonquian peoples the Lenape were considered the “grandfathers” from whom all the other Algonquian peoples originated. Consequently, in inter-tribal councils, the Lenape were given the respect one would give to elders.

The Treaty of Easton, signed between the Lenape and the English in 1758, moved them west out of New York and New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Then they were pushed to Ohio and beyond.

It didn't work to their advantage, but the Lenape were the first Indian tribe ever to enter into a treaty with the United States government. They signed the Treaty of Fort Pitt during the American Revolutionary War and supplied the Continental Army with warriors and scouts in exchange for food supplies.
When the white man arrived, the Lenape had developed an extensive system of trails through the wilderness. These trails were originally 18 inches wide and could only accommodate persons walking in single file. Warriors, messengers, hunters, diplomats and visiting families apparently used separate paths. These Indian paths became bridle trails, wagon roads and twentieth century highways.      via
The Lenni-Lenape of New Jersey were peaceful and they were sometimes intermediaries in resolving problems within the nation. The hostile Iroquois mockingly called them “The Old Women.”

North of my hometown of Irvington, the Lenape were also living in what is now the Passaic valley around where I worked for a number of years at Passaic County Community College.

At the Paterson Museum, I learned that the Lenni Lenape Indians knew the Great Falls well as a prime camping and fishing site. They called it “Totowa” which meant "to be forced beneath the waters" which shows their respect for the power of the falls.

The Passaic Falls, more popularly known as the Great Falls. There is no record of  who first "discovered" the Great Falls. History books record the white settlers who moved into the area following the settlement of Newark in 1666. Of course, the Lenape discovered the Falls long before any white hunters or land prospectors from that colony wandered up the river.

Acquackanonck was the land in lower Passaic County from Essex County line to Pompton. The name is said to be derived from several  Indian words meaning place of  brush net + rapid stream. The V-shaped brush nets were set in the river in shallow places so that fish became entangled in the twigs during the seasons when spawning runs of shad and sturgeon were under way.

Over a long period of time, the area of the falls was a productive source of fish for the Indians and later for the white settlers. During the spawning season, shad and other anadromous species (fish that migrate up rivers from the sea to spawn) would come in great numbers to the waters below the falls, where their upstream progress would be stopped.

These large catches couldn't be consumed immediately and much of the catch was dried for later use. Sturgeon, as well as shad, made their way to the foot of the falls and, because of their size, were especially prized. One of the largest ever reported was taken on August 31, 1817, and was said to have weighed 130 pounds.

The lenape were not the only Indian in this area, but they were the dominant tribe. There is still a group of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation (AKA Ramapo Mountain Indians) numbering about 5,000 who live around the Ramapo Mountains of northern New Jersey and southern New York.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Tracking NJ Bald Eagles on Their Journeys photo

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) has released the 2014 Bald Eagle Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, active nests and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey with data collected by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWFNJ biologists and dedicated volunteers.

During the summer of 2014 two juvenile bald eagles were fitted with a GPS tracking device (a wearable backpack). ENSP biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male) and one from Cumberland County (a female) to be tagged in this telemetry study.

The male, named "Nacote," hatched at a nest near Nacote Creek in Port Republic, and wears a green band with code D/95.

The female, named "Millville," was from a nest on the Maurice River; she wore color band E/05. Unfortunately, Millville was found dead on November 24, 2014.

Nacote was in Canada until mid-October when he started heading south. He visited Six Flags Great Adventure in December and for the past two weeks, he has been residing in northeast Atlantic County, especially Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Millville ventured out to Delaware Bay marshes in late July and back in early August. In mid-September, she crossed the Delaware River into Delaware and then spent most of September along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland before crossing over to Virginia.

"Tracking these young eagles is giving us insight into where the birds go once they fledge and the type of habitat they are using," explained Conserve Wildlife Foundation Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager Larissa Smith. "Unfortunately, we recently learned that the female was found dead in Delaware. The first year of life is tough for young eagles as they learn to survive on their own."

D/95 Nacote with GPS transmitter being attached. Kathy Clark/ENSP

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to follow these juvenile bald eagles on their forays far from New Jersey," said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director. "With the eagles choosing to fly in completely different directions, it’s a reminder on how much we still have to learn about these fascinating creatures. Yet what is not in doubt is the bald eagle’s continuing recovery from the brink of extinction - thanks largely to the dedicated scientists leading the way."

For maps of the movements of Nacote, updated regularly, visit

2014 Eagle Report

The federal government removed the bald eagle from its list of Endangered Species in August of 2007, but the bald eagle’s official New Jersey status remains state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season. The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) bald eagle recovery efforts, implemented in the early 1980’s, have resulted in a steady recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population. ENSP biologists, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey staff, and volunteer observers continue to locate and monitor bald eagle nests and territories each year to analyze the state of the population.

The population of wintering bald eagles has grown along with the nesting population, especially in the last ten years. This growth reflects increasing populations in NJ and the northeast, as each state’s recovery efforts continue to pay off for eagles.
  •     This season, 25 new eagle pairs were found.
  •     The statewide population increased to 156 pairs (including nesting and territorial) in 2014, up from 148 in 2013.
  •     A total of 156 nest sites were monitored during the nesting season, of which 146 were documented to be active (with eggs), up from 119 last year.
  •     One hundred fifteen nests (79%) of the 145 known-outcome nests produced 201 young, for a productivity rate of 1.39 young per active and known-outcome nest.
  •     The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with 43% of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties.
  •     2014 marked the first year of successful eagle nesting in the Palisades Interstate Park in perhaps 100 years.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife and the habitats they depend on. We carry out our mission by researching and managing rare animal species, restoring habitat, educating New Jersey’s residents, and engaging volunteers in our conservation projects. Since the early 1990’s, CWFNJ scientists and educators have helped conserve and protect a variety of at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation.  For more information on CWF, please visit us at

Monday, January 12, 2015

Curbing Invasive Species by Eating Them

Following the traditions of her Chinese and Japanese ancestors, Tama Matsuoka Wong learned how to forage wild plants for food. She was surprised to learn how many plants in New Jersey's meadows are delicious.

They can also be harvested without limit because they're invasive. How to curb invasive species? Eat them! She teams up with chef Mark Drabich on some gourmet recipes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reports on 3 New Jersey Raptors

An osprey returns to its nest     Photo by Gary Lehman

Raptors, commonly referred to as "birds of prey," include hawks, owls, eagles, falcons and vultures. Raptors have fascinated people for thousands of years and inspire people even today. Fortunately, after some frightening declines in some of our largest species, raptors represent some of New Jersey's greatest success stories.

The bald eagle, osprey and peregrine falcon have made impressive comebacks from the brink of extinction, in large part thanks to the efforts of division biologists.

Unfortunately, not all species of raptors are thriving - the American kestrel, for instance, has experienced a sharp decline in recent years, and the work of biologists in the Endangered and Nongame Species Program continues.

The 2014 reports on three raptor species managed by the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife have been posted on the Division's web site. The reports detail the management efforts and results of Division staff and dedicated volunteers.

This work would not be possible without public support. Donations to the program can be made on the NJ state income tax return (Line 58 - check-off for wildlife) and through Conserve Wildlife License Plates.

2014 Peregrine Falcon Report (pdf, 130kb)
2014 Osprey Report (pdf, 105kb)
2014 Eagle Report (pdf, 970kb)

From One to 135 - New Jersey's Bald Eagle Success Story (US FWS site)

Source: .

Monday, December 29, 2014

Red Knot Is Now On The Federal Threatened Species List

Red knots             Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the red knot, a migratory shorebird, as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. A “threatened” designation means a species is at risk of becoming endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

“This federal designation will make a big difference in strengthening the protections of this incredible shorebird,” said David Wheeler, executive director for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. “Here in New Jersey, we are restoring the vital beach habitat that had been decimated by Hurricane Sandy, and this designation ensures the safeguards we are providing can be complemented along the East Coast,” Wheeler added.

Since the 1980s, the knot’s population has fallen by about 75 percent in some key areas. Wildlife biologists believe the major threat to the red knot is the dramatic decline of horseshoe crab eggs, an essential food source at the most critical stopover during their 8,000-mile trip from southern wintering grounds to Arctic breeding territory. High-energy horseshoe crab eggs provide nourishment for red knots to refuel and continue their journey.

“The major decline of horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay is one of the largest threats to the survival of the shorebird,” explained Larry Niles, a biologist who leads the beach restoration efforts for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and American Littoral Society, and has studied red knots for three decades. 

Shorebird Makes Federal Threatened Species List - The SandPaper

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Species on the Edge Multimedia Contest for New Jersey High School Students

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey announced its new Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest, an educational multimedia contest with a S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) focus for New Jersey high school students.

The Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest invites all New Jersey high school students to submit an original video, application, podcast, digital graphic design, webpage, or other multimedia project showing why wildlife protection is important in New Jersey. The Multimedia Contest showcases high school students' interest in new media technologies, and provides them with the opportunity to showcase their talent, creativity, and love of nature. It also helps develop students’ experience in S.T.E.M. education and project management skills.

“Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is thrilled to announce our new Species on the Edge 2.0 High School Multimedia Contest,” explained Conserve Wildlife Foundation wildlife ecologist Stephanie Feigin. “We hope that this S.T.E.M. education focus will engage and teach high school students about science and New Jersey’s rare wildlife, while also capitalizing on high school students' fast-growing expertise with technology.”

Species on the Edge 2.0 is free to enter. All contestants will be eligible to win scholarships. The first prize winner will be awarded $1,000, $500 will be awarded to the second prize winner and the third prize winner will receive $250. These scholarships are made possible by Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest sponsor PSE&G. All entries will also be eligible to win a drawing to spend a day in the field with a wildlife biologist.

The Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest expands on the success of Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s existing Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest for fifth graders. Since 2003, over 10,000 children from across New Jersey have entered the Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest. The Contest is a great way to engage and excite fifth graders into learning about New Jersey’s over 80 endangered and threatened wildlife species.

The contest is:
  • Free to enter
  • Open to all New Jersey high school students
  • 1st prize: $1,000 in scholarship money
  • 2nd prize: $500 in scholarship money
  • 3rd prize: $250 in scholarship money

All Species on the Edge 2.0 Multimedia Contest entries are due before April 30, 2015.

For more information and to download your contest kit visit:

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWFNJ) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife and the habitats they depend on. We carry out our mission by researching and managing rare animal species, restoring habitat, educating New Jersey’s residents, and engaging volunteers in our conservation projects. Since the early 1990’s, CWFNJ scientists and educators have helped conserve and protect a variety of at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation.