Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Attack of the Emerald Ash Borer,

 EAB - Photo: David Cappaert,
It is possible that in another decade most of New Jersey's ash trees will be dead. The 24 million ash trees in our forests, neighborhoods, parks and backyards are very endangered because they are under attack from an invasive insect known as the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

This  tiny beetle came from Asia with wood products, first to the Great Lakes region, especially Michigan in the early 2000s. It has destroyed hundreds of millions of ash trees in the Midwest.

Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in New Jersey in May 2014 in Somerset County. Through July 2017, emerald ash borer has been found in New Jersey in Bergen, Burlington, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.

Adult females deposit eggs in bark crevices and emerging larvae burrow under the bark and feed on the cambium, which transports water and nutrients and kill the tree.

An affected tree, will start looking bad  -  thinning out at its crown, leaves turning yellow, shredding bark, woodpecker holes and D-shaped holes where the insects exit. If a tree is at this point, it cannot be saved.

So, what can we do?  Very little.

Cutting ash trees down or treating untouched trees with insecticide are the only alternatives. Treatment costs about $200 per tree, and they have to be treated every two years, so, though individual trees can be protected, widespread treatment is cost-prohibitive and impractical.

One of the frightening statistics from the NJ Department of Agriculture is that 99 percent of untreated ash trees in our landscape will eventually become infested and die from EAB.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Annual WILD Outdoor Expo This Weekend

New Jersey’s great outdoor locales and activities will be featured Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10 during the Department of Environmental Protection’s eighth annual WILD Outdoor Expo at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township.

The Expo will highlight the state’s natural resources and outdoor heritage with more than 100 environmental and conservation exhibits, demonstrations and seminars. The rain-or-shine event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission and parking at the Expo are free as are most activities.

One of the Expo’s highlights will be a giant mobile aquarium, which will show off a variety of New Jersey’s fish species. The tank will be loaded with warm water game fish from the state’s fish hatchery located in Hackettstown. Casting and fishing demonstrations as well as instructional tutorials for new anglers are planned.

Expo visitors can also sharpen their camping and backpacking skills, get an introduction to archery, learn about osprey platform building, hone their bird and tree identification skills, walk through a mobile reptile zoo, and view raptors up close.  Other activities will include zip lining, stand up paddle boarding, nature photography, and outdoor learning on everything from fishing to kayaking, rock climbing, shooting sports and watching wildlife.

“The Expo provides a great opportunity for people of all ages to acquire new outdoor skills, while also learning about New Jersey’s bountiful natural resources” said Larry Herrighty, Director of the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “It is truly a one-stop event for learning how to explore, experience and enjoy New Jersey's great outdoors."

The numerous exhibits, demonstrations and seminars scheduled during the Expo will focus on New Jersey’s air, water, soil, flora, fauna and history. Experts will be on hand to discuss topics ranging from hunting to bird watching to scuba diving and forestry stewardship in the state. There also will be a living history encampment and demonstrations of crafting dating back to the 1740s.

Many of the free activities and programs offered at the Expo can help fulfill Boy Scout and Girl Scout badge requirements. View a complete list of free scout badge activities as well as a complete list of Expo events at

The Expo will also feature an equipment flea market featuring outdoor recreation and other environmental-related products for purchase. Food will be available from a variety of food  trucks and food vendors.

The WILD Expo is sponsored by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, State Forest Service, State Forest Fire Service and the State Parks Service, as well as the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and L.L. Bean. It is partly financed by a grant from the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation’s Trailblazer Adventure Program.

Directions to the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, located at 299 East Colliers Mill Road, New Egypt, NJ 08533 – can also be found at the Expo website.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Jersey State Parks

The end of summer doesn't mean the end of visits to outdoor areas. In fact, with foliage becoming a major tourist attraction in many area on the East Coast, the cooler months of autumn are increasingly times for outdoor travel vacations.

Though it may be only weekend visits for families with kids, for others the less crowded fall season has advantages.

Last year I bought my lifetime senior citizen National Parks Pass for $10 and my wife and I have since visited several National Parks and plan on visiting many others. But we don't have to leave the state to see parks and forests.

The State Park Pass is available for New Jersey residents at $50 (Non-Resident $75) and means free entrance for one calendar year to the state parks and forests facilities that charge daily walk-in or parking fees. If you are a frequent visitor to the state parks, the purchase of the State Park Pass can mean a substantial savings over the payment of daily walk-in or parking fees. The pass does not cover camping fees or guarantee entry when facilities are filled to capacity or for special events. That same application also entitles New Jersey residents age 62 or over and people who are totally disabled to free admission and free parking upon providing adequate verification of their status. They also receive a $2 per night reduction in campsite rates.

There are 40 New Jersey State Parks and forests. Here are just a few options to consider this autumn.

High Point      Flickr - Thomas Hannigan 
High Point State Park is known for its High Point Monument which, at 1,803 feet above sea level, offers a great panorama of rich farmland and forest, soft hills and lush valleys in three states. The Delaware River is a blue line that marks the ridges of New Jersey from those of Pennsylvania.

But High Point also offers trails for walkers, hikers and skiers, and quiet spots for campers and anglers.

The land for High Point State Park, donated by Colonel Anthony R. and Susie Dryden Kuser, was dedicated as a park in 1923. The landscaping was designed by the Olmsted Brothers of Boston, a prominent landscape architectural firm of that time owned by brothers who were the sons of the eminent Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park.

Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island south of Seaside Park that stretches for 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the historic Barnegat Bay.

Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast in 1609.

The dunes and white sandy beaches offer habitat to maritime plants and diverse wildlife in the dunes, thicket, freshwater wetlands, maritime forest and tidal marshes.

The state's largest osprey colony calls this park home and there are also visiting peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds.

Island Beach is nationally known as a unique resource with over 400 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey.

Like High Point, the best known spot at Cape May is the lighthouse. It is a great attraction for many visitors to the area, but the park’s constantly changing shoreline, dunes, freshwater coastal marsh and ponds, forested islands and varied uplands make it a well-known location for viewing the fall bird migration.

Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May Point State Park is a key site on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail, with an environmental center that houses a classroom for interpretive programs and a museum on the area's natural and historic features.

Check out the Official Facebook page for New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites at:

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Heart of the Pinelands

Here is a video from the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on New Jersey's Pine Barrens. NJCF has preserved thousands of acres of land in this home to many rare and plants and animals.

Of particular focus in this video is the harmless and threatened Northern Pine Snake.

According to NJCF:

"Northern pine snakes face a variety of threats in New Jersey. Habitat loss and alteration are the greatest threats to this in New Jersey. However, illegal collecting and off-road recreational vehicle use also have harmful effects on pine snakes.
The development of Pinelands habitats leads to a loss of pine-oak forest habitat and an increase in human encounters with pine snakes. Too often, such encounters prove fatal to these snakes, and reports of pine snake road kills are common. Some forestry practices may also have negative impacts on pine snakes. For example, forestry practices that favor oak-dominated systems with closed canopies or dense shrub layers probably decrease the amount of suitable pine snake habitat in an area."

More on the pine snake at

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Freshwater Mussels in New Jersey

Freshwater mussels inhabit rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are vital to their ecosystems, filtering water and cleaning our waterways. Jeanette Bowers-Altman, Principal Zoologist in DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, sits down with Gladys Giron to discuss this fascinating mollusk and its status in New Jersey, role in the environment, and how NJDEP aids in its conservation.

To learn more about freshwater mussels in New Jersey, click here to listen to Discover DEP: the Official Podcast of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection  - Episode 65-Freshwater Mussels with Jeanette Bowers-Altman