With winter coming to a close, it's a good time for an update on the Littoral Society's current restoration work and upcoming opportunities for you to help.
We have projects underway on South Riverside Drive in Neptune, NJ; Slade Dale Sanctuary in Point Pleasant, NJ; Forked River Beach in Lacey Township, NJ; and the Mouth of the Maurice River near Bivalve, NJ.
The Society’s restoration work was also recognized through New Jersey's 23rd Annual Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards and as one of the initial recipients of a New Jersey Natural Climate Solutions.
First, let’s look at our project on South Riverside Drive in the Shark River Hills section of Neptune Township, which has a stakeholders meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m.
Late last year, NJ Governor Phil Murphy appointed two people to join the Pinelands Commission. One was Jessica Sanchez, who served as a Trustee of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance for many years, and the other was Mark Mauriello, who currently serves as vice president of the American Littoral Society's Board of Trustees.
Mark was sworn in as a member of the Pinelands Commission’s 15-member board in January of this year.
“I would like to thank Governor Murphy for this appointment and am honored to join the Pinelands Commission as a Commissioner,” he said at the swearing-in ceremony. “I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners and the dedicated Commission staff to promote orderly development of the Pinelands, while protecting and preserving the unique resources of the Pinelands.”
The Littoral Society is honored to welcome Gail Lalla as our newest Board of Trustees member.
Gail is an Associate and Business Development Manager for T&M Associates, a leading national consulting, environmental, engineering, technical services, and construction management company that has worked on greenway projects including the Passaic County Highlands Rail Trail (Wanaque, N.J., still in design phase); the Morris Canal Greenway (Jersey City, N.J., still in design phase) and the award-winning Schuylkill River West Trail (Upper Merion Township, Pa., completed in 2015).
At T&M, Gail is responsible for business development, grants research and procurement, project management, and the cultivation of existing client relationships. She provides a multi-faceted background in renewable energy, environmental planning, and community resilience.
Join the American Littoral Society for a walk on Sandy Hook to learn all about some of our winter visitors - both aquatic and avian - while visiting some of the spots they gather! The walks will take place on Thursday, February 16 and Saturday, February 18.
Meet at Littoral Society Headquarters in the Fort Hancock Section of Gateway National Recreation Area's Sandy Hook Unit (GPS: 18 Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ). From there participants will be driving to a few different locations around Sandy Hook.
While in the field we will discuss the different species we find, their habitats, where to find them, and identifying features. Maybe we will get lucky and spot a snowy owl!
Dress for the weather (Hat, gloves, layers, etc.)! Cost is $10 for Littoral Society members, $20 for non-members.
Photo by Marcus Johnstone - Creative Commons License
Over the past decade, there has been growing awareness that the people who live, work, and play in America's most polluted environments are often people of color and with low income.
Moreover, there has been overwhelming evidence that this is neither coincidence nor accident: historic, systemic inequities have allowed these communities to be targeted for landfills, industrial plants, and truck depots.
The people who are most impacted already know this, and the American Littoral Society is taking the time to learn from them and other stakeholders across the region. It has become apparent that the issue goes beyond how to mitigate the effects of superfund sites and dirty power stations on surrounding neighborhoods. It is the prevention of stormwater pollution, protection from floods and climate change, and access to local waterways and beaches.
Also, much of our restoration work takes place on ancestral Lenni Lenape lands and many of the schools with which we partner are part of urbanized areas at the greatest risk from the threats of climate change.
Last year, tens of thousands spoke out against a plan to increase the harvest of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay. That public concern helped convince the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to keep existing limits in place.
While the effort certainly warrants both praise and thanks, it only bought the crabs - and the shorebirds who depend on them - a year of continued protection. The ASMFC will revisit the harvest limit issue this coming fall and, unless things change, may approach it using the same flawed framework that led the commission to conclude the bay's female horseshoe crab populations no longer needed protection.
All of which means that we may soon be asking people to again raise their voices with ours to protect both the crabs and the birds - such as the Rufa Red Knot - that rely on the crabs' eggs for survival.
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed on February 11. It is intended to recognize the role women and girls already play in science and promote the idea of STEM careers to future generations of women.
On this day, we would like to highlight the female scientists on the Littoral Society staff, which include:
Read on for brief profiles of the American Littoral Society's Women in Science.
It's World Wetlands Day, so we want to recognize the importance of the soggy-grassy places that can often be found along estuaries and coastal areas. Besides being home to 40 percent of life on earth, these often reviled marshes and swamps serve as sponges for flood waters, a supermarket for fish and birds, a filter for drinking water, and a vacuum for carbon in the atmosphere.
But wetlands are at risk from rising seas, the changing climate, human development and pollution. Which is why the Littoral Society puts a great deal of focus on protecting the wetlands we still have and restoring those we might lose.
Our education staff bring bring people to wetlands through such things as nature walks, school programs, and sunset seining. We advocate for them through support of legislation including the Clean Water and Living Shorelines act. We help conserve them through activities such as coastal cleanups, community science programs, and dune planting. Plus we work to restore them in New Jersey and New York at places that include Basket Flats at the mouth of the Maurice River, the marsh islands of Jamaica Bay, the Slade Dale Sanctuary near Barnegat Bay, and shorelines around the Shark River.
You can help. Sign up to be a volunteer for one of restoration projects, join us for an upcoming event, lift your voice with ours in support of wetlands protections, become a member, or help support the Littoral Society financially with a donation.
Thanks to fantastic weather, the Littoral Society enjoyed a great turn out for our annual New Year's Day walks on Sandy Hook, NJ and Breezy Point, NY.
Buoyed by temperatures in the 50s, more than 200 folks gathered for the trek to the tip of Sandy Hook and about 50 joined us for the walk through New York's Fort Tilden.
The annual ritual to ring in the new year, which has been occurring for more than 30 years, included attempts by both parties to signal the other. While we failed in that effort (once again), we hope everyone will join us for another try on January 1, 2024.
The New York group also celebrated some very important milestones for one of the youngest naturalists on the walk … with cake of course!
On Sandy Hook, the event culminated with hot dogs and hot chocolate at Littoral Society headquarters.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for these events and we look forward to making the walk again with you next year.
Helping Pollinators Help Us
Littoral Society Kicks Off Environmental Stewardship Program
with Students at South Jersey High School
Over the past 5 months, students in Agriculture Research and Development and Animal Science classes at Cumberland Regional High School (CRHS) explored the impacts of climate change and habitat loss on pollinators while getting their hands dirty in an environmental stewardship project led by the American Littoral Society.
The project, called Helping Pollinators Help Us: Creating Habitat for Climate Change Resilience, was launched in the Fall of 2022 with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Planet Stewards program (NOAA). The pollinator project at CRHS is led by Nicole Smith, the school's Agriculture Teacher and FFA Assistant Advisor, and Michelle Rebilas, Littoral Society’s Delaware Bay Education Coordinator.
For the two-year project, students will be engaged in hands-on conservation and stewardship experiences that build skills and confidence in their individual and collective ability to make a difference in their community. As part of that they learned about the threats to pollinators like bees and butterflies in the face of climate change and developed a strategy to increase pollinator habitat availability and connectivity on their school campus.
The initial semester of work included three phases: Pollinator Study & Monarch Conservation, Habitat Planning & Design, and Growing Pollinator Plants in a Greenhouse. The project will culminate with the creation of a 1-acre pollinator habitat on the campus of Cumberland Regional High School in Spring 2023.