Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pine Barrens Protection

Pine Barrens cranberry bog

The Pine Barrens, or more correctly The Pinelands National Reserve, is an amazing part of New Jersey.

Some Pinelands facts:
  • It covers over a million acres.
  • It includes 800,000 acres of forest and 60,000 acres of farmland. 
  • It is home to many rare animals and dozens of rare plants, including some found nowhere else on Earth.
  • The highest point in the Pine Barrens is the fire tower on Apple Pie Hill in Wharton State Forest.
  • The Pine Barrens comprise the largest surviving open space along the Eastern Seaboard south of Maine's great forests.

What is hidden from view but very important is the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, a shallow underground reservoir beneath the Pinelands that holds 17 trillion gallons of clean, fresh water. The aquifer provides more than 35 billion gallons of water per year to residents, farmers, businesses, and industry in southern New Jersey.

The National Parks and Recreation Act and New Jersey's Pinelands Protection Act were enacted in 1978 and 1979, respectively and these laws created a system of regional planning, with all development governed by a Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and a mandate to protect the region's natural resources. A central goal is to safeguard the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer by protecting the forests that collect and cleanse rainfall.

A 15-member Pinelands Commission oversees and implements the Comprehensive Management Plan, which designates conservation and growth zones and applies stringent environmental standards.

Threats to the Pinelands include underground gas pipeline proposals, contamination of the aquifer by nitrogen runoff in developed areas, saltwater intrusion into the aquifer from pumping too much freshwater, and the destruction of forests and habitats by illegal or improper off-road vehicle use.

The Pine Barrens are a New Jersey treasure and a global treasure that was designated a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Biosphere Reserve.

Pinelands Preservation Alliance website www.pinelandsalliance.org
NJ Pinelands Commission www.state.nj.us/pinelands

Pine Barren tree frog

Sunday, October 8, 2017

NJ Fall Trout Season Begins With Stockings


The fall trout season will get under way as the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife begins stocking rivers, streams, and lakes across the state with thousands of large, two-year-old fish on Tuesday, October 10.

New Jersey boasts some of the finest trout fishing opportunities found anywhere,” said Commissioner Martin. “The fall stocking program is another example of the Christie Administration’s commitment to the outdoor community by providing wonderful opportunities to catch large trout at this special time of year.”

Later in the month, anyone can try their hand at freshwater fishing without having to purchase a fishing license during the Free Fishing Day on Oct. 21.

Beginning Tuesday, more than 20,000 two-year-old rainbow trout, ranging from 14 inches up to 22 inches in length and weighing 1 1/2 pounds to nearly 8 pounds, will be stocked in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout the state. The trout are raised at the Pequest State Trout Hatchery in Warren County.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife strives to make trout fishing available in all regions of the state. Waters stocked during the first week of fall stocking are the 16 large streams and rivers in northern and coastal New Jersey, such as the Big Flatbrook, Pequest River, South Branch Raritan River, Musconetcong River, and the Manasquan and Toms rivers. During the second week, 20 ponds and lakes across the state will be stocked.

There are no stocking closures during fall, so waters can be fished at any time. Although all newly stocked fish are at least 12 inches in length, anglers are reminded that there is a 9-inch minimum size limit on RainbowLargetrout in New Jersey. Anglers must immediately release fish smaller than the minimum size.

“Many of the rivers to be stocked also have fish that were released previously, providing even more opportunities to catch bigger fish,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Larry Herrighty. “Fall is a great time to seek solitude, join a buddy or bring out your family to cast for trout while enjoying the beauty of New Jersey’s great outdoors. There are few better ways to enjoy the change of seasons.”

In addition to the already great fishing opportunities being offered this fall, anglers can enjoy a Free Fishing Day on Saturday, October 21. On this day, residents and non-residents can fish the fresh waters of the state for free without paying for a license or trout stamp. Other regulations, including size and daily catch limits, remain in effect.

Free Fishing Days provide a fantastic opportunity to sample fishing for a wide variety of fish, including trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel and numerous pan fish species. Hatchery-supported muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, and hybrid striped bass fisheries are also thriving.

The complete list of fall trout stocked waters and the stocking schedule is available at www.njfishandwildlife.com/flstk17.htm or through the Trout Stocking Hotline at (609) 633-6765. A wealth of information about trout fishing in New Jersey, including regulations, fishing access points and trout fishing facts can be found at: www.njfishandwildlife.com/trtinfo_fall.htm

Anglers may also download the stocking schedule right to their cell phones by simply scanning the QR Code that appears in the Freshwater Digest or on the Division's trout stocking signs posted along trout stocked waters. Updates to the fall stocking program will be posted as needed.

Except for Free Fishing Days, anyone age 16 or older must obtain a fishing license to fish the fresh waters of the state. A trout stamp is also required to fish for trout. Children under 16 and New Jersey residents 70 years and older may fish without a license. Licenses and stamps may be obtained through license agents statewide, found at: www.njfishandwildlife.com/agentlst.htm They can also be purchased online at: www.nj.wildlifelicense.com

Anglers who have yet to purchase a 2017 fishing licenses also have the opportunity to introduce a friend or family member to fishing at a reduced price this fall by purchasing a “Fishing Buddy” license. These discounted licenses are available to resident anglers ages 16 to 65, or any nonresident angler over age 16 who purchases an annual New Jersey freshwater fishing license at the same time as their “buddy.” For more information on the Fishing Buddy license, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/fishbuddy.htm

Photo by Tom Pagliaroli

Friday, October 6, 2017

Annual Fall Forestry Festival October 7 in Ocean County


Outdoor enthusiasts, crafting devotees, and fans of all things arboreal will gather again on Saturday October 7 at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson Township, Ocean County for the 23rd Annual Fall Forestry Festival. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. Admission and parking are free.

“We invite all New Jerseyans to visit our Fall Forestry Festival to learn about trees and enjoy the outdoors,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Richard Boornazian. “The festival’s nature-themed activities and programs are sure to entertain and delight children and parents alike.”

“This festival is also a great time for birders, scouts, hikers, and anyone who appreciates forests and woods,” added State Forester John Sacco. “This event is here for people to gain a better understanding of New Jersey’s vast forest resource.”

Visitors will get the chance to meet beloved outdoor mascots Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, take a hayride, visit the New Jersey Tree Nursery, or join one of the many guided hikes scheduled throughout the day. Professionals in the natural resource field will also be on hand to give tips on water and soil conservation, composting, invasive insects and diseases, maple sugaring, managing your backyard forest, and more.

Children, teens, and parents alike can plant acorns, build a wooden craft, make music in “Sounds of the Forest,” and even put on a harness and climb the old white oak tree. Plans are in place for demonstrations of the center’s sawmill and the utilization of logs from storm and/or insect damaged trees from around the state to be milled into useable lumber.

On the forest safety side, fire wardens will be on hand showcasing firefighting tools and equipment, as well as demonstrating how homeowners in our wooded areas and forests can help make their property “firewise.”

“Living in our forested areas means living with the potential for wildfires impacting their homes and property,” said State Fire Warden Steve Holmes. “We will be providing information on firewise gardens, which is the practice of making smarter landscaping choices to best protect our homes from wildfires.”

In 1994, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson hosted the first Fall Forestry Festival, drawing attention to the work the center does in educating the public about forest stewardship — managing New Jersey's forest resources so that we have healthy trees and forests, clean air and water, and places to learn about and enjoy the outdoors. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at the Festival. Sturdy hiking shoes and insect repellant are encouraged.

Parking is available for the festival at 370 E. Veterans Highway, Jackson. For driving directions to the Forestry Festival, call the Forest Resource Education Center (FREC) at 732-928-2360 or visit www.forestrycenter.nj.gov .

The Forest Resource Education Center (FREC), operated by the DEP's NJ Forest Service, is committed to providing exceptional conservation education programs that promote benefits of trees and forest stewardship to all age groups at no cost. It is the sole public facility in NJ focused on forestry education. Located on 875 acres, the FREC also offers miles of trails for hiking, biking, and nature watching.

The Toms River, which runs through the FREC, is regularly stocked with trout to provide an exciting fishing experience for anglers. For more information, please visit the FREC’s website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/njfs_frep.html. Many programs may fulfill requirements for scouting badges. To be added to the scout mailing list, email FREC@dep.nj.gov

The New Jersey Forest Tree Nursery, co-located on the same property, grows 300,000 seedlings yearly for reforestation efforts across the state. The Nursery has grown and distributed more than 220,000 tree seedlings for the Tree Recovery Program, providing them to New Jersey residents to replace trees lost in Superstorm Sandy. It also provides trees and seedlings for Arbor Day events and also boasts seedlings that flew in space on the Shuttle Columbia in 1997.

To learn more about the New Jersey Forest Tree Nursery, please visit their website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/nj_forest_nursery.htm


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Appalachian National Scenic Trail and New Jersey

Most people who are not hikers probably don't think of New Jersey when they hear talk about the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the Eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) long. A beautiful 162-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail passes through the New York-New Jersey region.

final section of the AT through NJ

Probably equally surprising to even people living in New Jersey is that there are 10 National Parks in New Jersey.

  1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  2. Delaware Water Gap National Rec Area
  3. Edison NHS
  4. Gateway National Rec Area
  5. Great Egg Harbor Scenic and Rec River
  6. Middle Delaware National Scenic River
  7. Morristown NHP
  8. New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
  9. New Jersey Pinelands
  10. Paterson-Great Falls
Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks, which they do with the help of volunteers and partners.

New Jersey is home to 72.2 miles (116.2 km) of the trail. The trail enters New Jersey from the south on a pedestrian walkway along the Interstate 80 bridge over the Delaware River.

It ascends from the Delaware Water Gap to the top of Kittatinny Mountain in Worthington State Forest, passes Sunfish Pond, continues north through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Stokes State Forest and eventually reaches High Point State Park,where it turns in a southeastern direction along the New York border for about 30 miles (48 km), passing over long sections of boardwalk bridges over marshy land, then entering Wawayanda State Park and then the Abram S. Hewitt State Forest just before entering New York near Greenwood Lake.

In New Jersey the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference maintains and updates the Appalachian Trail.

If you want to explore our Jersey section of the A.T., here are some resources to get you started.








Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Our Fossil State

We worry about a threatened species becoming endangered and about an endangered species becoming extinct. But there are some species that are extinct that we still study and protect: fossils.


The world’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered in Haddonfield, NJ. It revolutionized the study and helped put New Jersey on the paleontological world map. At the NJ State Museum, an exhibit features a 25 foot long cast of Hadrosaurus foulkii, the world's first nearly-complete dinosaur skeleton that was discovered here in 1858.

Paleontologists, both professional and amateur, are still unearthing fossilized remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures at several active sites in the state.

"The fossil state - New Jersey" is a document published by njconservation.org that discusses the narrow diagonal band across our state known to geologists as the Inner Coastal Plain. This area runs along the center of New Jersey from Salem County on the Delaware Bay to the Raritan Bay in Monmouth County. During the Cretaceous period, when the earth was much warmer and sea levels higher, the Atlantic coastline followed the band of the Inner Coastal Plain. (Maybe one day it will again be the coastline.)

This shallow ocean was home to sea creatures like mosasaurs and giant crocodiles, and sometimes land-dwelling creatures would be pulled into the ocean. The sediments in this area contain fossils of both land and sea creatures.

One of the soil types that is very fossil-rich is called greensand, known locally as “marl.”  It was once the sea floor. It is still soft and can be dug with a trowel, rather than the typical chipping away at rock for fossils. You may know some sites of marl deposits of the Inner Coastal Plain because of NJ towns that carry the name such as Marlton and Marlboro.

NJ has 9 of the 11 fossil-rich geologic periods represented in its geology and fossils have been found in 19 of the state’s 21 counties.

Today’s paleontologists are especially focused on fossils of the late Cretaceous period, found at sites in Monmouth, Burlington and Gloucester Counties.

The Discover DEP  Official Podcast of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection covered in Episode 40 the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University with Dr. Ken Lacovara.  Give a listen at http://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3qc47-66bf12

NJ Physiography
JimIrwin at English Wikipedia
CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons