Society wraps first year of environmental stewardship program with STUDENTS AT Cumberland Regional HS
This Spring, 9th and 10th grade students in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources classes at Bridgeton, NJ's Cumberland Regional High School (CRHS) planted 1000 native pollinator plants, creating a 1-acre pollinator habitat on their school grounds.
The project, called Helping Pollinators Help Us: Creating Habitat for Climate Change Resilience, launched in the Fall of 2022 with funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Planet Stewards, led by Michelle Rebilas, Littoral Society’s Director of Education and Nicole Smith, CRHS Agriculture Teacher and Agriculture Sciences Academy Leader.
In the Helping Pollinators Help Us program, students became the conservationists as they learned about the threats to pollinators in the face of climate change and developed a strategy to increase pollinator habitat availability and connectivity on their school campus. The creation of the pollinator habitat was a part of a 2-year project that will engage over 120 students in conservation action in their local community.
For the first phase of the program, students studied the importance of pollinators and their vital role in food/agriculture and natural resources. They also learned about the decline of pollinators in the United States due to habitat fragmentation, habitat loss and climate change.
By Toni Rose Tablante, Habitat Restoration Technician
The American Littoral Society has wrapped up another horseshoe crab season on the Delaware Bay and it was an eventful one. Let’s recap!
But first, some background: the Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of spawning Atlantic horseshoe crabs, (Limulus polyphemus). The horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn and lay eggs during the months of May and June, with peak spawning occurring during new and full moon events at high tide.
A female horseshoe crab can lay up to 4,000 eggs at a time, and up to 80,000 eggs per season. Horseshoe crabs are keystone species, playing a very important ecological role. Migratory shorebirds, like the threatened Red Knot, (Calidris canutus), use the Delaware Bay as a stopover during their migrations from the tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic. They rely heavily on the easily digested fats and nutrients found in horseshoe crab eggs to regain weight and fuel their continuing migration.
The Littoral Society continues to fight for the protection of horseshoe crabs, while working to restore spawning habitats.
The American Littoral Society is honored to be named one of the New Jersey Council of the Humanities (NJCH) Spring 2023 grant recipients. The incubation grant will support “River Relationships,” a story-gathering project focused on Camden residents’ experiences in relation to pollution of the Delaware River.
The Delaware River is a beautiful waterway that touches four states, flowing from headwaters in New York's Catskills mountains to the wide expanse of the Delaware Bay which borders New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Over the past half-century, the river has been brought back to life through cleanup efforts largely fueled by the 1972 Clean Water Act. As a result, the river is now a prime location for all sorts of recreational activity, while also supplying drinking water for more than 15 million people. This improvement was celebrated when American Rivers named the Delaware River its National River of the Year for 2020.
Unfortunately, sewage overflows and runoff pollution continue to create health risks for people who want to enjoy the river in the roughly 27-mile stretch from Philadelphia and Camden to Wilmington Delaware.
Summer is always the busy season for the Littoral Society's Operation Oyster and Shuck It, Don't Chuck It! (SIDCI) shell recycling programs.
More people at Jersey Shore restaurants means there are many more shells to be collected. But we're also busy with public events designed to highlight both the importance of shell recycling and the importance of local aquaculture. The Society and its partners recycle oyster and other shell for use in efforts to “reoyster” coastal waters through oyster reef restoration.
With the start of summer, our shell collection total topped 64,000 pounds or 32 tons, roughly the equivalent of one adult humpback whale. The vast majority of those shells are collected from the 13 participating restaurants (find them on our Shell Recycling page).
Most of our restaurant shell intake is managed by a wonderful group of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, you can sign up on our website.
A formerly vacant lot in Bridgeton, NJ, now affectionately known as The Triangle Park, recently received some TLC from community volunteers.
On Saturday, June 3, more than 30 people from Bridgeton participated in Family Day of Service to beautify the little corner of the Southeast Gateway neighborhood at South Street and Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. The park has been improved over the years with the help of the American Littoral Society, Gateway Community Action & Partnership, and United Advocacy Group.
In the recent past, the sidewalk around the Triangle was reconstructed to include green stormwater features that trap and filter stormwater from the neighboring streets. A concrete flow pad directs water into the previously constructed rain garden, while strategically placed trees absorb runoff from the sidewalk.
Please join us in welcoming the American Littoral Society's four summer interns. Let us introduce you to Audrey Litto and Liam Heapes, who will be working as Coastal Education Interns; Tyler Setnicky, our Fish Tagging Program intern; and Simran Gohel, our Development intern.
Coastal Education Interns
Audrey graduated this past May from The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in environmental and sustainability science, with minors in sustainability and geography. Audrey previously worked under the Director of Education at Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy in Washington DC, where she discovered a strong interest in environmental education. Throughout her career, she hopes to continue promoting the importance of conservation through education and outreach.
Growing up in Monmouth County, NJ, Audrey has always loved going to the beach and exploring the local coastal environment. She is thrilled to be able to educate people of all ages, and learn more herself, about Sandy Hook’s environment and all that inhabit it. In her free time, Audrey enjoys painting, hiking, and rewatching New Girl for the hundredth time.
In May, the American Littoral Society experienced a changing of the guard with the appointment of Michelle Rebilas as Director of Education. She replaces Nicole Haines, who served in that position since March 2018.
Michelle joined the Littoral Society last year as our Delaware Bayshore office Outreach and Education Coordinator with 10 years of experience working for environmental non-profits in environmental education and community engagement. In her prior role, Michelle connected students, teachers, and community members to the Littoral Society’s work in the Delaware Bayshore region through education programs, community events, and social media.
"Michelle has worked tirelessly since she started to deliver excellent education and outreach programming on behalf of the Society," said Lindsay McNamara, Assistant Director of the Littoral Society . "She hasn't shied away from new challenges and is always willing to help her team. She is a dream to work with and brings extensive knowledge to her new position. We especially love her passion for the Society and her pride in her work."
Weather was perfect on Saturday, June 10, ensuring a wonderful time and magnificent conclusion to the Littoral Society's first-ever Sunset on the Bay at Fortescue Beach in Downe Township NJ.
Fortescue beach is home to one of the American Littoral Society’s restoration projects, which serves to keep sand on the beach and create ideal habitat for horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds.
The Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of spawning horseshoe crabs in the world, with their peak season coinciding with the event which will allow the community to come together and experience this spectacle that is sought after by many.
Those attending Sunset on the Bay, enjoyed entertainment from a local musician, along with food and refreshments, including beer from Tonewood Brewing and oysters from Cape May Salt Oyster Farms.
The addition of 85 forested acres adjoining the preserve will provide space for recreation, as well as protect wildlife and water quality
The Menantico Preserve in Cumberland County, NJ just grew significantly, thanks to a public-private partnership that included New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the American Littoral Society and the County. Together they teamed up to acquire 85 forested acres adjoining the preserve in Vineland, NJ that will provide recreation, as well as protect wildlife and water quality.
The Littoral Society recently purchased the 85-acre Feigenbaum property on Panther Road in Vineland for $302,000, using funds from the New Jersey Green Acres Program, Cumberland County and the Open Space Institute. The property was transferred to New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which acquired the Menantico Preserve’s original 600 acres in 2018.
The Feigenbaum family expressed that they are “happy to know that the acquisition of our property will help to increase the size of the Menantico Creek Preserve.”
“Thanks to this great partnership, the Menantico Preserve now stands at 685 acres of protected open space,” said Rob Ferber, NJ Conservation’s Regional Manager for the Delaware Bay Watershed. “The preserve is near population centers in downtown Vineland and Millville, and we’re creating a trail system to make it a valuable resource for the community.”
Through a collaborative partnership with the Cape May Point Science Center (CMPSC) and Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT), the American Littoral Society will be adding cellular tracking devices to our horseshoe crab tagging program.
These tags will help us to remotely monitor and track the crabs as they come ashore and provide a better understanding on how often female crabs emerge, general horseshoe crab movement, and what informs their movement decisions.
This new partnership kicked off on May 23 when staff from CMPSC and CTT, as well as donors Rob and Wendy Wilson, joined us for a special tagging event at Reeds Beach, along the Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey. These new PowerTags are in addition to those the Society has been using for years that provide some basic insight on crab movement when tagged crabs are recaptured.