Since 2020, the American Littoral Society has been a key partner working with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), New York City Schools and other partners on the Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) program.
Recently, a short documentary about that work was shown at New York University. The screening was followed by a panel discussion on teaching children about climate change and the ecology of Coney Island Creek. The panel included Alexandra Kanonik, our Jamaica Bay Program Director.
The film, titled "Where it Floods: Planting Hope in Coney Island," follows the journey of students from seven NYC middle and high schools as they learn about climate science, climate impacts and the natural and built solutions that increase climate resiliency in Coney Island. The film itself is narrated by one of these students who is now getting ready to graduate and looking to enter the field of climate science and advocacy.
Ring in the New Year with a walk on the beach. Join the American Littoral Society at Sandy Hook, NJ or Ft. Tilden, NY on January 1 at 11 a.m. for our 48th Annual New Year's Day walks!
The walks are free and suitable for anyone able to walk a few miles, with part of that distance being on sandy beaches. Leashed dogs are welcome. Dress for the weather and bring your own water.
Participants in the New York walk will meet at 11 a.m. at The Little Church, just inside Fort Tilden's 169th Street Entrance and walk to the end of Breezy Point (about three miles). Register on our website.
The Sandy Hook walk will meet at 11 a.m. outside Littoral Society Headquarters in the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area (GPS: Building 18 on Officers Row). Address is 18 Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ. We will walk to the northern tip of Sandy Hook (just under 3 miles). Register on our website.
When we arrive at our destinations, the two groups will attempt to signal each other across the New York/New Jersey Bight.
Teachers from Vineland, NJ's Compass Academy Charter School recently participated in a professional development workshop hosted by Littoral Society Director of Education Michelle Rebilas. The theme was “Teaching in the Outdoors” and it focused on using the Nature Center on their school grounds as an Outdoor Classroom for learning, exploration, and wellness.
Participants, who teach pre-K through 5th grade at Compass Academy, each received a Teaching in the Outdoors curriculum guide containing custom lesson plans to engage their students in the Outdoor Classroom.
Teachers from subjects ranging from art to science, math, reading, writing, and resource/technology had the opportunity to practice the Nature Center activities and take on the role of the student for the day. They used their senses, explored what lives under a log, went on a wildlife detective mission, sorted colors, shapes, and categories, created nature journals, made art in nature and practiced inquiry and science skills. Teachers were encouraged to get curious, find teachable moments, get dirty, and try something new!
Some may remember a discussion Littoral Society staff had last year with Ty Gould-Jacinto of the Native American Advancement Corporation (NAAC). In it, we talked about a 63-acre tract of land that she and her organization were working to preserve. We are happy to share that they have succeeded in that goal, and the Cohanzick Nature Reserve is officially owned by the NAAC!
We’d like to congratulate our allies at the NAAC on their success and thank them for their continued work in caring for the coast. While the Cohanzick Nature Reserve is not open to the public yet, it is expected to be in the near future. When it does open, the Littoral Society plans to host educational events there as we continue to learn with and from the Lenape people in South Jersey.
"We see establishing the reserve as not just important to our mission, but also crucial for that area of New Jersey and for the Lenape people,” says Lucia Osborne, Director of the Littoral Soceity’s Delaware Bayshore Office. "In addition to empowering tribe members living in the area, it will also have a big impact on the bayshore environment, while offering an amazing place to teach other people the importance of preserving nature and how that will affect their lives."
Twenty eighth graders from Bridgeton, NJ recently spent a day kayaking with the American Littoral Society. For some of them, it was their first-time paddling.
The students from the Bridgeton ExCEL Program joined staff from the Littoral Society’s southern New Jersey office at Sunset Lake, which is part of the town in which they live and just north of Bridgeton City Park. After some basic instruction they got out on the water for some paddling practice.
Part of the Society’s mission is to help people experience the natural world, often in their own backyard, in a new way so that they grow to appreciate the importance of these spaces. As part of that, many of these same students learned how to identify some of the plant and animal species in the area during a Spring hike along the trail around the lake. As a result, they now have a first-hand feel for the whole ecosystem on and off the water.
This was the first of a series of kayaking programs staff from the Society’s Delaware Bayshore office will be doing. Those programs are funded by a grant from the Mohawk Canoe Club.
More trips have been planned with local schools and the general public for the spring. If you live in South Jersey keep an eye on the Littoral Society’s social media and website calendar if you would like to go paddling with us!
While the heavy lifting may be done at the Littoral Society's project in Forked River Beach, NJ, work at the site will continue for the foreseeable future.
In addition to monitoring and maintenance of the living shoreline project, which is designed to protect homes and habitat along an eroding section of Barnegat Bay's shoreline while also reducing the amount of sediment getting into the water, Littoral Society staff will continue meeting with and speaking to residents and officials from the surrounding community.
Reef building was completed on Oct. 16-17, with installation of the final sections by our contractor Albert Marine Construction. The protective reef now runs just offshore from near the mouth of Forked River in the north, to a lagoon located at the southern end of Beach Boulevard.
Those final reef sections mark the first use of recycled shells from the Littoral Society's "Shuck It, Don't Chuck It!" program in a major restoration project. The reef has also been seeded with 32 million live oyster, as part of the Littoral Society's effort to help bring those bivalves to New Jersey's coastal waters.
The fruits of that effort are already evident: during this year's monitoring at the site, live oysters were found living on the reef.
Female horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay will be protected for another year, according to a recent announcement from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
Last year, tens of thousands of people like you spoke out against a plan to increase the bait harvest of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay and your voices helped convince the ASMFC not to lift its decade-long moratorium on harvesting female crabs.
The American Littoral Society would like to thank you for helping us protect the Delaware Bay's horseshoe crab population and the shorebirds which rely on the crab's protein-rich eggs to fuel their migratory journeys, such as the Rufa Red Knot. Red Knot populations collapsed during the 1990s, at the same time horseshoe crab populations plummeted due to unregulated overfishing, and the birds remain on the U.S. threatened species list.
Unfortunately, along with the good news came some bad: the Commission’s Horseshoe Crab Management Board plans to increase the harvest limits for male horseshoe crabs for the 2024 season because - according to their new Adaptative Resource Management (ARM) Framework, which was adopted last year - the population of both female and male horseshoe crabs in the Delaware region is at its highest level since 2003.
In addition to the party, which featured live music by the award-winning duo of Ryan Gregg (The Shady Street Show Band and Ocean Avenue Stompers) and Deseree Spinks (Des and the Swagmatics), the evening included great conversation about the Littoral Society's mission and an online auction that concluded on Saturday, September 30. Among the items up for bidding were tickets to a New York Giants game, fabulous art by local artists, and amazing experiences (such as a private moth party with expert lepidopterist Blaine Rothauser).
The event benefited the American Littoral Society's ongoing efforts to support a safe and healthy coast for marine life and humans alike; provide education for people of all ages and backgrounds; and continue advocacy for public access to the coast, natural solutions to the effects of climate change, and responsible environmental policy at the local, state, and national levels.
A rainy Saturday didn't dampen spirits or wash out activities during the Littoral Society's 2023 Fall Cape May Wildlife Weekend on October 12-15.
It certainly helped that every other day had near perfect seasonal weather but even amidst a downpour on Saturday, trip attendees still ventured into the wild to marvel at the incredible birds and wildlife that visit or reside in this picturesque part of southern New Jersey.
As expected, bird watching didn't disappoint. Cape May is one of the top sites on the east coast for witnessing fall bird migration and trip participants counted 86 different species - including a number of Terns, Teals, and Herons, as well as numerous shorebirds, dozens of ducks (including two Pied-billed Grebe and an American Coot), a Northern Harrier (a ground-nesting raptor with a flat, owl-like face) and three Brown Pelicans.
Speaking of raptors, a large variety were sighted (including procrastinating Osprey, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Merlin, Broad-Winged Hawks, two Bald Eagles and a Peregrine Falcon). Many could be seen every day hanging out on light poles and buildings or overhead catching thermals with Turkey Vultures. (See the eBird trip report).
After years of collecting shells, we're ready to return a significant amount of them to a New Jersey bay in what will be the American Littoral Society's first use of recycled shells in a major restoration project.
The shells will be moved from our curing site on Sandy Hook (inside Gateway National Recreation Area) to our Forked River Beach living shoreline restoration project in Lacey Township, NJ on Thursday, October 12. The transportation will also highlight a great public-private partnership, with the construction company currently working on the bridge between Rumson and Sea Bright (Richard E. Pierson Construction Co., Inc.) volunteering to load the shell from the curing site into a truck provided by Lacey Township.
“This is a perfect example of how a public/private partnership should work,” said Capt. Al Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Program Director for the American Littoral Society. “It shows true project cohesiveness and that we all have the ability to care for the coast by and improve ecology, habitat, and community resiliency.”
The installation of the shells from the Littoral Society's "Shuck It, Don't Chuck It!" (SIDCI) program (on October 16-17) and a volunteer event on Wednesday, October 18, will also mark the completion of the project to protect homes and habitat along an eroding section of Barnegat Bay shoreline. The project, which entailed building reef segments that have been seeded with 32 million live oyster, began in 2021 with the help of partners and funders including: the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, Lacey Township, Bayside Beach Club, Stockton University, Albert Marine Construction, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, ReClam the Bay, Parsons Seafood, and Wildlife Restoration Partnerships.