Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Solar Eclipse Viewing in NJ

From space, the Moon's shadow during a solar eclipse appears as a dark spot moving across the Earth
Image: NASA Earth Observatory

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun. In New Jersey, which is north of the path of totality, the sun will appear partially eclipsed at magnitude 0.77 or about 73% of the sun being covered by the Moon - which will still be an incredible sight. It will peak at about 2:43 pm ET.

Two places you might go for viewing in New Jersey that also offer other things to see and do while you are there are two of our own national parks.

Solar Eclipse Party at Sandy Hook
History House, Building 1
1PM - 5PM
Join a park ranger and S.T.A.R Astronomy to view the solar eclipse. Rangers and astronomers will share with visitors how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse. Ranger-led activities will be led on the lawn as the party takes place.

At the Great Falls on the Passaic River, you can experience this solar phenomena in Overlook Park at 72 Mcbride Avenue, Paterson, NJ. Free solar eclipse viewing glasses and t-shirts will be provided while supplies last, as well as special solar eclipse junior ranger books and badges.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Birds and Airports. Not Perfect Together.

United Airlines and Audubon International are teaming up to protect raptors “threatened” by living near Newark Airport. They want to send them to nearby golf courses.

The United Eco-Skies Raptor Relocation Program at Newark Liberty International Airport plans to protect hawks, ospreys and owls by transporting the animals to golf courses certified within the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.

Since a 2009 accident when a jetliner was forced to land in the Hudson river after birds were sucked into its engine, many birds have been killed in the New York City area in an effort to make flight paths safer.

"The presence of wildlife at our airports can pose a challenge to pilots operating commercial aircraft," said Laura Francoeur, the Port Authority's chief wildlife biologist. "The agency implements wildlife management measures to reduce these challenges, and we continue to work with our airline partners and organizations such as United and Audubon International to ensure safe operations while protecting nature."

But, according to, the leading causes of fatal plane crash accidents are not wildlife but pilot error (50%), mechanical error (22%) and weather (12%).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Endangered New Jersey History

Yes, historic places are often on their own endangered lists around the world and New Jersey is no exception.

One list is at the website (They are also on Twitter) and on Preservation New Jersey's site you'll find their annual list of the state's 10 most endangered historic places.

The places vary in age and usage. For example, there is the Colemantown Meeting House and Jacob's Chapel, in Mount Laurel (Burlington County). This circa-1865 chapel and meeting house along with an even older cemetery are all that remain of the 19th-century African-American community of Colemantown.

The meeting house was made even more endangered than it had been after Superstorm Sandy flooded it and made the building unusable. With an estimated $1.3 million needed for repair, restoration and site improvements, the price tag is well beyond the means of the congregation.

Jacob's Chapel  (NPS)
The Jacob's Chapel A.M.E Church property, which includes the Colemantown Meeting House, the Chapel and cemetery mark the emergence, growth, and decline of Colemantown. This antebellum African American settlement established in 1828 flourished into the 20th century and was an important event within Burlington County history.

The Colemantown Meeting House (moved to its current location in 1965) served as both the first worship sanctuary in Colemantown and as a schoolhouse for the hamlet's children and is one of the oldest all-black schoolhouses still extant in New Jersey.

The cemetery was inaugurated about 1849. In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, the growing congregation, then led by Jacob Mitchell, an A.M.E minister known for his success in helping other black churches build their own sanctuaries, led the effort to build the present Jacob's Chapel in 1866-67.

Founder's Fountain in better days - Photo CC 2.5 
Not all endangered NJ history is a building or place. An example is Founders Fountain in Monmouth County's Founder's Park. The park was established on the site of the first Camp Meeting in Ocean Grove, off Pilgrim's Pathway.

This elaborate cast iron fountain was the centerpiece of the park when it was placed there in 1907 as a memorial. Vandals clogged it in 1977, but it remains partially intact, but in severe disrepair. Many of the original molds are available for the fountain’s restoration, but the expensive cost is beyond the means of the historical society that owns it.

You might not think of most school buildings as being historic, but Camden High School is a century-old Collegiate Gothic-style building that is also known as the "Castle on the Hill."

Camden High School's Class of 2017 is the last graduating class of "The Castle on the Hill" as the school is slated to be demolished this year to make room for a new $133 million state-of-the-art high school.

The chances are very slim that the building will be saved.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Reducing Summer Flounder Mortalities

The Department of Environmental Protection has begun distributing 20,000 free larger J-hooks to help reduce summer flounder mortalities as part of its campaign to educate the fishing public on how to safely release summer flounder that do not meet minimum size requirements.

Summer flounder, or fluke, is one of New Jersey’s most important recreational and commercial fish species. The “If You Can’t Keep It, Save It!” campaign focuses on the proper methods and gear to use to reduce unintentional mortalities that can occur when flounder that do not meet minimum length requirements are returned to the water.

The summer flounder season in New Jersey began May 25 and runs through Sept. 5. The minimum size is 18 inches for summer flounder for most coastal waters, including the ocean, estuaries and creeks. Anglers in these areas may keep three legally sized fish per day. The size limit for Delaware Bay is 17 inches, with a three-fish per day limit. At Island Beach State Park the size limit for shore fishing is 16 inches, with a daily two-fish limit.

“We are asking all anglers to help protect summer flounder for future generations,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “New Jersey is fully committed to doing the right thing by using science and public education to conserve a species that is critical to the fishing culture and economy of New Jersey.”

The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the American Sportfishing Association and Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle Co., are distributing larger-sized J-hooks that help anglers land bigger fish and reduce the potential for discards. These hooks are available at bait-and-tackle shops. They can make a difference by reducing the number of smaller fish that are caught as well as risk of serious injury to these fish.

For a list of shops, visit: or follow the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife on Facebook at

DEP Deputy Commissioner David Glass was joined by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife staff today for the distribution of hooks at Fisherman’s Supply Co. in Point Pleasant Beach.

“Whether you are a seasoned angler or it’s your first time fishing, it’s important for everyone who reels in a fish to be educated on the proper ways to handle them in order to best preserve current and future stocks,” Glass said.

The “If you Can’t Keep It, Save It” campaign builds upon the FishSmart campaign promoted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It features distribution of print and electronic brochures to anglers registered through the state’s Saltwater Registry, charter and party boat operations, bait-and-tackle shops and members of fishing organizations, as well as radio public-service announcements and newspaper advertisements. The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is also doing outreach through its website, email lists and social media.

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently affirmed New Jersey’s size, bag limit and season length regulations for the current summer flounder season. NOAA falls under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department.

Earlier this year, a regional fisheries management board voted to increase the size of fish that could be legally taken in New Jersey, a move that could have had severe economic impacts on the shore tourism economy.

The DEP provided NOAA with data that demonstrated that the increased size limit would have resulted in high rates of discard mortalities and would have forced anglers to keep female breeder fish, which account for the vast majority of the largest fluke found in New Jersey waters.

As part of its campaign, the Division of Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to follow these techniques:

Plan ahead – Expect to release fish and have the necessary equipment to do so, including de-hookers and nets; more experienced anglers may also consider using a recompression tool, a device that allows fish to be returned to the water at a safer depth.
Use appropriate gear – Use gear suited to the size of the fish that you are trying to catch; 5/0 to 7/0 size hooks are recommended to successfully land bigger fish and reduce discards.
Handle fish carefully – Use knotless, rubberized landing nets and rubberized gloves to avoid removing the protective slime layer on fish and help ensure survival when the fish is returned to the water.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New Jersey Conservation Foundation

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation is the state’s oldest land preservation organization. They work to protect farmland, meadows, rivers, and endangered species. NJCF was a group that fought to protect the Great Swamp National Wildlife Reserve in Morris County from being developed into a major airport when that was proposed in the late 1950s.

NJCF is a voice for conservation in NJ politics. They offer a number of ways to donate and help their efforts.

Many of New Jersey Conservation Foundation's preserved properties are open to the public for hiking, bird-watching, bicycling, picnicking, nature photography and family outdoor activities. Some preserves have spots for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized water sports. Preserves are open during daylight hours.

To learn more about individual preserves, go to

Since 1960, NJCF has been working to preserve mountains, fields, farms, streams, forests
and meadows, and has saved over 125,000 acres since then. (2014 - 17 minutes)