Successful local initiatives help protect natural resources, health and open spaces
Highland Park Environmental Commission Wins ANJEC’s ERI Essay Award
Congratulations to the Highland Park Environmental Commission for winning first prize in the ERI Essay Contest! They will receive a large framed print of a map from their own ERI, donated by long-time ANJEC business member Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants. Three other commissions, Bordentown Township, Franklin Township (Hunterdon Co.) and Mountain Lakes Borough, will also receive awards for their entries, a free admission to the 2014 Environmental Congress on October 24.
ANJEC is grateful to all of the commissions that took the time to compile an essay describing the ways they utilize the information in their ERI (environmental resource inventory) to benefit their communities. We will be posting information from the essays on our website. Also, look for an article about using an ERI in the next ANJEC Report.
Belvidere Environmental Commission
The Commission, under a grant from NJ American Water, developed a storm drain marking program and built a riparian buffer with interpretive signage to foster watershed stewardship and protect local streams. They partnered with the fifth grade class at Oxford Street Elementary School to mark about 50 storm drains with stencils reading “Keep it Clean - Drains to River” with a fish icon. In response to recent severe flooding events, the Commission also created a 1200-foot-long riparian buffer to limit pollutants from entering the Pequest River, and installed five interpretative signs encouraging residents to leave “no-mow zones” in areas adjacent to waterways. Each sign has a QR code that can be scanned with a smart phone directing the user to a NJ Department of Environmental Protection website with additional information.
Chatham Township Environmental Commission
Spring sapling sale
To replace many trees lost during Hurricane Sandy, the Chatham Twp. Environmental Commission held a joint Spring Sapling Sale with Long Hill Twp. In consultation with Morris County Soil Conservation District, the Commissions identified native tree species well adapted to area conditions and held three widely publicized classes where homeowners could learn which trees were best suited to their lots, how to plant and care for the trees and could order them at the same event. With a generous grant of $4000 from Investor’s Bank, residents were able to keep their costs low---an average of about $30 for a 5- to-12-foot tree. Each community replaced almost 400 trees destroyed in Hurricane Sandy; and Chatham’s unsold saplings were purchased by the municipality and used to re-vegetate a steep slope on preserved land devastated by the storm.
Montgomery Township Environmental Commission
Recycling education and outreach
Montgomery Township Environmental Commission formulated a two-pronged approach to improve the town’s recycling rate, targeting both the business community and residents. Commission members worked with the township to visit each commercial site, surveying the types of dumpsters in use and then meeting with owners to supply recycling information. The Commission also launched a recycling education campaign featuring a sculptural display at the local library, elementary school, and in nearby towns. In addition to disseminating information via the township website, newsletter, e-bulletins and the annual Earth Day Fair, the Commission hosted a forum with the NJ Environmental Lobby on plastic bag recycling, held events where residents could trade plastic bags for reusable bags and created educational displays and handouts. The result was an overall 30 percent increase in Township recycling from 2010 to 2012, including 2,450 pounds of metal and 14,494 pounds of electronic waste.
Plumsted Township Environmental Commission
Plumsted Youth for Nature and the Environment (PYNE)
Plumsted Township Environmental Commission created Plumsted Youth for Nature and the Environment as a result of one young person’s vision of creating a township-supported environmental group outside of school. The youth-led organization is comprised of elementary, middle and high school-aged children. Two Environmental Commission members serve as adult advisors to PYNE. The Commission has co-sponsored several projects with PYNE, including: a Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird count, a Christmas tree recycling event, a stream monitoring program at Crosswicks Creek, roadside and trails cleanup events, a crayon recycling event, and a fall tire cleanup. Results from PYNE efforts include: 159 Christmas Trees collected for a dune restoration project in Island Beach State Park; removal of 86 bags of trash from roadsides and public areas; 22 tires and other trash from the Union Transportation Trail; 750 tires from public land in partnership with Bridgestone Americas; and 118 pounds of crayons for recycling.
Roxbury Township Environmental Commission
Stream Keepers cleanup and monitoring project
In response to the reopening of a local landfill and its proximity to local streams, the Environmental Commission organized a stream cleanup and stream monitoring program to focus attention on water as a natural resource, and how water from the township flows into other parts of New Jersey. The Commission partnered with the Roxbury Trails Committee for the cleanup and publicized it in the local paper and township website; they also distributed flyers. More than 20 volunteers removed a total of 23 bags of debris from the stream and park, as well as a considerable number of large items, including shopping carts, a motor and part of a foot bridge. Ledgewood Brook became the Commission’s Stream Keepers project, and a second site was added on Flanders/Drake Brook downstream of the recently reopened landfill. The volunteers performed a visual assessment of the health and conditions of the stream as well as a count of certain aquatic organisms, called macroinvertebrates, to help determine stream health. The Commission submitted all data collected by the volunteers to Raritan Headwaters Association.
Hightstown Environmental Commission/Hightstown Housing Authority
Green stormwater management demonstration project
In response to severe flooding from Hurricane Irene, the Environmental Commission garnered public and official support for groundbreaking changes to local stormwater management policies. After determining that, due to 60 percent impervious cover, 45,000 gallons of water would run off the Hightstown Housing Authority’s (HHA) public housing complex into a stream that runs through the center of town, the Commission partnered with the Authority to build a demonstration site showcasing three simple solutions to reduce runoff: (1) a rain garden to manage runoff from one of HHA’s largest buildings and recharge the water back into the soil; (2) a rain barrel project to store water from a portion of the office building roof and use it for irrigating the landscaping; and (3) a dry well to improve percolation of rain water into surrounding soils. The project reduced runoff from the HHA site by 14 percent, and kept 40,740 gallons of water from running down storm drains in June of 2013 alone. In addition, the HHA added an attractive landscape feature for residents to enjoy. This has encouraged the Authority to add additional project areas and report that this fall they will have doubled the size of the original project.
Warren Township Green Team
Low impact checklists for construction and planning
Warren Township Green Team, in partnership with the Environmental Commission, created checklists to encourage individuals and groups that submit site plans for development proposals to incorporate environmentally friendly practices prior to planning and construction. The Low Impact Checklists were developed over an eight-month process, with participation by members of the Green Team, the Environmental Commission, Township Committee representatives, and the Township Administrator. Professionals and consultants such as the Town Planner, Town Engineer, and the Construction Official also shared their expertise and resources. The Low Impact Construction Checklist is now handed out when residents and builders apply for construction permits. The Low Impact Planning List brings environmental concerns directly into the local planning process; it is given to architectural firms and developers when putting together developments. The lists were also shared with the Watching Hills Regional High School District to use as a guideline in developing a $12 million infrastructure referendum.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County and Camden County Soil Conservation District
Hopkins Pond water quality improvement project
The 5-acre Hopkins Pond, part of the Camden County Park System, experienced intense blue-green algae blooms during warm weather due to excessive nutrient runoff from local lawns, recreational fields and other sources. In the Spring of 2013, Hopkins Park was fitted with a Hydro Logic “Airlift” diffuse air aeration system to increase circulation and dissolved oxygen in the pond. In addition, artificial floating wetlands were installed as a unique way to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in a water body by using natural microbial action and aquatic vegetation that might be grown in a land-based, constructed wetland, and extending it into deeper waters. Faculty and students from Haddonfield High school helped collect water quality data and assisted in habitat monitoring. As a result, the pond water column is mixing well, and zooplankton has had a period of explosive population growth that will provide food to fish in the pond. Hopkins Pond did not experience a blue-green algae bloom this past summer, unlike other local ponds.
Three commissions earned honorable mention:
- Caldwell for hosting Tree Day, an event emphasizing the importance of local trees;
- Bridgewater Township for organizing their Eco Blast Fair, a community event with a sustainability theme; and
- Manalapan for organizing volunteers to establish a Monarch butterfly waystation.
Group initiatives winning honorable mention included:
- the Maplewood Garden Club, Hilton Neighborhood Association and Maplewood Green Team Parks and Gardens Committee for their rain garden at the Hilton Branch Library; and
- the 2012 Rutgers Intermediate Landscape Architecture Class working with the Lawrence Brook Watershed Partnership on innovative land use design interventions to address stormwater issues.
Local Environmental Education
- Bethlehem (Hunterdon) 2007
- Bradley Beach (Monmouth) 2009
- Cape May Point (Cape May) 2010
- Cranford (Union) 2012
- Cresskill (Bergen) 2009
- Friends of East Brunswick (Middlesex) Env. Commission 2011
- East Brunswick (Middlesex) 2006
- Hawthorne (Passaic) 2012
- Long Hill (Morris) 2007
- Manalapan (Monmouth) 2010
- Montgomery (Somerset) 2013
- Montgomery (Somerset) 2009
- Plumsted (Ocean) 2013
- Verona (Essex) 2012
- Westville (Gloucester) 2010
- Westville (Gloucester) 2011
New Environmental Commissions
Open Space and Natural Areas
- Cape May Point (Cape May) 2009
- East Brunswick (Middlesex) 2006
- Fanwood (Union) 2009
- Mendham Township (Morris) 2006
- Mountain Lakes (Morris) 2011
- Roxbury (Morris) 2010
- Voorhees (Camden) 2010
- Manalapan (Monmouth) 2012
- Manalapan (Monmouth) 2010
- Montgomery (Somerset) 2013
- Montville Township (Morris) 2008
- Roxbury (Morris) 2012
- Verona (Essex) 2009
- Woolwich (Gloucester)
- Chatham Township (Morris) 2008
- Cranford (Union) 2006
- Egg Harbor (Atlantic) 2006
- Princeton Joint (Mercer) 2008
- Southampton (Burlington) 2010
- Summit (Union) 2007
- Warren (Somerset) 2013
- Woodbridge (Middlesex) 2010
Threatened & Endangered Species Protection
Trees and Forest Areas
- Asbury Park (Monmouth) 2007
- Bethlehem Township (Hunterdon) 2007
- Chatham Township (Morris) 2013
- Hawthorne Borough (Bergen)
- Belvidere (Warren) 2013
- Berkeley Heights (Union) 2006
- Bethlehem Township (Hunterdon) 2006
- Cape May Point (Cape May) 2010
- Haddonfield (Camden) 2013
- Hightstown (Mercer) 2013
- Hightstown (Mercer) 2012
- Washington (Gloucester) 2007
- Westville (Gloucester) 2009