Successful local initiatives help protect natural resources, health and open spaces
Cranford Environmental Commission
My Green Cranford web site
The Commission created its own web site, with the objective of being the “town square for all things green” in Cranford. The site has about 26 pages and attracts roughly 8500 visitors per month at an annual expense of $141. The site also features an electronic newsletter with Environmental Commission meeting updates, Green Team activities, events notices, ideas for sustainable living, a photo gallery of local wildlife and much more. The first successful campaign promoted through the web site was the Township’s expansion of plastics recycling by the Township, which led to the collection of four additional types of plastics at the recycling center. My Green Cranford also lists local businesses that qualified for certification in Cranford’s Green Business Program, and has a section that examines solutions to flooding from the Rahway River, a major issue for the community. Volunteer David DesRochers, a member of the Environmental Commission, manages the site.
Hawthorne Environmental Commission and Hawthorne Green Team
Hawthorne interactive “Green Map”
Hawthorne’s Environmental Commission and Green Team created a map and campaign to promote exercise and wellness through safe walking and biking in the community. Partnering with residents, government, the Chamber of Commerce and the local historical society, they cataloged walking paths and community destinations in the Borough and engaged a local student to map them on the Green Map System. A local graphic artist converted the map into a downloadable and printable map, available on the Borough’s web site. The Environmental Commission launched the Green Map at its 20th Annual Cel-Earth-Bration fair, and promoted the walking/biking campaign through a “Where’s Waldo” promotion tied to use of the Green Map.
Hightstown Environmental Commission
Stormwater management ordinance amendments and updates
In the aftermath of severe flooding from Hurricane Irene, the Hightstown Environmental Commission advocated strengthening the town’s stormwater management ordinance to make it stricter than the State’s Model Stormwater Ordinance. The new ordinance will trigger stormwater review of more development applications and zoning permits by the Environmental Commission. It will also lead to greater opportunities for personal contact, education and (nonbinding) recommendations for small-scale, non-structural stormwater management techniques such as rain gardens, porous pavement, swales, rain barrels, etc. The ordinance was adopted unanimously in 2012.
Manalpan Environmental Commission
Water bottle reduction project
Concerned about plastic waste and other environmental harm caused by production and distribution of disposable water bottles, the Manalapan Environmental Commission set out to increase public awareness and encourage the use of reusable water bottles. The Commission decided a traveling exhibit would help educate the community at large. After their presentation on conservation and recycling to a fourth grade class at Taylor Mills Elementary School, the students helped to collect 365 bottles (representing the use of one per day for a year) from the cafeteria, and then helped to create a sculpture of water bottles. The exhibit also features educational information, written and researched by Commission members and printed by the town’s Department of Public Works. The exhibit has been displayed at the school and at Manalapan Day, and featured on a local television program, and will be featured at the Town Hall, then at Monmouth County Library for Earth Day 2013.
Plumsted Township Environmental Commission
Kestrel awareness project
In January, Girl Scout Troop #559 asked the Plumsted Environmental Commission for help building bluebird nesting boxes. On learning of the recent addition of the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) to New Jersey’s Threatened Bird Species List, the Commission suggested shifting the focus to building kestrel boxes instead. They taught the scouts about the natural history and needs of kestrels, helped them to create a kestrel display, explained how to build wooden kestrel boxes, and helped them to obtain materials. The Commission’s Earth Day Celebration featured the kestrel exhibit and activities, including a visit from “Killy the Kestrel.” The team installed two kestrel boxes at Colliers Mills WMA and one at a local farm.
Roxbury Township Environmental Commission
Monofilament recycling program
The Roxbury Commission organized a campaign to collect and recycle monofilament (plastic) fishing line, which takes many centuries to degrade and can injure fish and other wildlife as well as boaters and swimmers. It cannot be recycled with household plastics. The Commission registered with the Boat US Foundation and installed 10 bins contributed by the Boat US Angler Program. They educated the High School Environmental Club and the Township Council about the impacts of improperly discarded fishing line. The bins were installed at Ledgewood Park Pond and Horseshoe Lake in time for 2012 fishing derbies. When the bins were emptied in August, they contained about six pounds of line, enough to extend eleven miles! This information will be entered into the Boat US online database, and the discarded monofilament will be recycled at a plant in Iowa.
Verona Environmental Commission
Go Idle-Free Verona
After members of the Commission noticed many idling cars and buses near local schools as parents and drivers waited to pick up students, they embarked on a campaign to increase awareness of the harm done by vehicle idling and to reduce idling in their community. They worked to get “No Idling” signs posted at the schools and in other areas around town. A comprehensive education campaign included newspaper coverage, posters, flyers and speaking engagements, as well as an elementary school poster contest and a Walk to School Day. In collaboration with students and parents the Commission produced a two-minute video, “Go Idle-Free Verona,” that was aired daily through the summer on Verona’s municipal TV station, reaching thousands of residents. Members “have noted a reduction of vehicle idling in town and a greater awareness regarding idling dangers.”
Secaucus Environmental Commission – New Commission Project
In October 2011, the Secaucus Environmental Commission initiated a campaign to ban the use of polystyrene in local restaurants and school facilities. Having witnessed the large amount of non-degrading Styrofoam trash collected each year in local Hackensack River cleanups, and the damage it does to wildlife, the Commission believed that restaurants and schools should switch to paper and other biodegradable cups, plates and take-out containers. They started raising awareness with presentations at public meetings and schools, and through press coverage in the Hudson Reporter, Home News and Secaucus Reporter. At the Commission’s urging, the Council adopted a resolution in “to put a ban on Styrofoam in the Town of Secaucus.” Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill responded by switching to plastic and tin containers after depleting their inventories of foam containers. A local ice cream shop and a café also supported the ban. Dunkin Donuts switched to paper cups, but eventually switched back to Styrofoam due to complaints from customers. The ban attracted attention from the Dart Corporation and the American Chemistry Council, who both asked the Town to retract the measure. Dart officials met with Secaucus officials and the Environmental Commission, but neither side changed its position.
Awards to Nonprofit Organizations
Cherry Hill Environmental Board
Rain barrel program
The Cherry Hill Environmental Board noticed erosion and other environmental issues arising from unmanaged stormwater, particularly at the Croft Farm Nature Area. With a grant from American Water they distributed nine rain barrels to each of three township schools. After students decorated the rain barrels that had been prepared by Girl Scouts, volunteers constructed a pollinator garden bed and installed the rain barrels. An additional nine rain barrels were decorated and installed at the Croft Farm Center. The group also developed a trail system on the property with a bridge built by an Eagle Scout.
Somerville Girl Scouts
Tree nursery in honor of Girl Scouts 100th anniversary
With a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation, the Girl Scouts obtained and planted 200 seedlings in a specially created arbor to protect them for a few years until they can be moved to various locations throughout the town. Construction of the arbor was completed as a Boy Scout Eagle project and the arbor will be used for a community garden when the trees are moved to their permanent locations. Volunteers helped water, mulch and care for the young trees and will continue to do so as needed. Girl Scout volunteers created signs at the site to inform residents of the project.
City of Linden
Hawk Rise Ecological Sanctuary
The City has been redeveloping the Hawk Rise Sanctuary within the urban landscape since the capping of the Linden Landfill in 2007. This award recognizes the second phase of the project, which created the Hawk Rise environmental education site with funding from the Green Acres Program of the State’s Department of Environmental Protection. It includes construction of a wetlands trail system and the implementation of the Hawk Rise science curriculum in Linden’s public schools. Under NJ Audubon stewardship, an array of natural history programs for adults and families are now available.
- 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 (Bergen) 2012
- Long Hill (Morris) 2007
- Manalapan (Monmouth) 2010
- Montgomery (Somerset) 2009
- 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
- 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
- Woodbridge (Middlesex) 2010
Threatened & Endangered Species Protection
Trees and Forest Areas
- Berkeley Heights (Union) 2006
- Bethlehem Township (Hunterdon) 2006
- Cape May Point (Cape May) 2010
- Hightstown (Mercer) 2012
- Washington (Gloucester) 2007
- Westville (Gloucester) 2009