"A New Leaf"

A Series of articles published in the Current of Egg Harbor Township for the EHTEC.  Many were suggested by ANJEC.

Easy Ways to Combat Global Warming

Recently an Egg Harbor Township resident wrote a letter to the Press of Atlantic City urguig everyone to see the movie "an Inconvenient Truth" about global warning. In her letter she states "the actions of one person will not change our world much".

Although I appreciate her concern about the future of our environment, on this point I beg to differ. I think it is the actions of each of us as individuals that are the only hope of changing the state of the environment in our world at all. I cannot do too much about what is happening to the environment in Russia, Africa or Asia. I cannot even control the actions of others. But each of us has the power to be environmentally reposnible right here, in our own little corner of the world.

For instance, you need no world changes and in fact no oneís permission to turn your yard into a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. It is easy enough to do and if every yard in EHT were designed to be wildlife friendly, to nurture and encourage the growth of trees, to offer a home to birds and wildlife, right there we would have changed 68 square miles of this world.

Each of us can make the commitment today to stop dumping chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers on any inch of grass on our personal land. These poisons wash off into the streams and into the ocean, killing the fish, encouraging the growth of algae. To say nothing of the long range effects on our children. This is a very high price that people seem willing to pay for green grass.

Each of us can make a commitment today to stop wasting our precious water on gorwing grass, a cool weather plant that will never adapt to summers in South Jersey! Why not get off the merry-go-round of fertilizing, watering, cutting. That water runs off into the street, down the street drain and out into the ocean, gone forever. Lawn mowers add a tremendous amount of pollution to the air, much more than cars and for what end? Enjoy your summers more by planting your yard with trees and native shuirbs and flowers.

Each of us can make a commitment this very minute to value the trees we have been blessed with, such abundance that we donít think twice about tearing them down, chipping them up and throwing them away. It is amazing that the same people who will want to "save the rain forests" donít think twoce about cutting down the trees in their own yards. Meanwhile carbon dioxide takes over the atmosphere because oxygen cannot be produced by trees that no longer live. And it wonít be long before the flooding scenes we watch in Trenton and Philadelphia are right here I our own backyards.

You can take a few hours to go see Al Goreís movie and leave feeling hopeless and helpless. Or you can use that time to research environmentally friendly ways to landscape your very own yard, become filled with great ideas and know you have the power to act on them. Every yard really does count towards the whole.

How to Birdscape Your Yard

When areas of woods are cut down to build houses, do you wonder where the animals and birds go? I sure do. Anyone who has taken even a short walk in the woods knows there are so many creatures there that we do not even know about, well beyond the deer and the bunnies. Especially when woods are clear cut in the spring I think about the entire next generation of animals that died with those trees, including baby birds in their nests. It is easier than you think to give a helping hand to displaced birds. So many new residents are starting their yards from scratch. Why not "birdscape" your yard rather than just "landscape" it?

Plant evergreens, primarily conifers which offer hiding places, nesting sites and food. Anchor your flower beds with conifers. Remember, it is winter for 6 months of the year here and they will brighten up your winter landscape. Pay attention to mature size though, as some conifers can be huge. But there is a size for every yard.

Deciduous shrubs and trees are the second most important element to your bird friendly landscape. There are many small ornamental trees that produce berries for food as well as great spring flowers and bright autumn colors.

Ornamental grasses make a great treat for the birds and provide both seeds and shelter. They only need to be trimmed in the spring and again, there is a size and variety to suit your yard no matter what the size.

Perennials provide nectar and seeds. It is best not to cut back these flowers in the fall as the birds most need their offerings in the winter.

Annuals also provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Birdbaths are essential and not just for the birds! Provide a few and various depths and sizes. Ground level bird creeks are the best.

Birdhouses and feeders are nice additions. House wrens are the only birds that will nest in a swinging box so provide some stationary post mounted houses also.

There are many books and web sites which will tell you what plants and flowers to plant to attract birds.

In my own National Wildlife Federation Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat, I also have a few dust baths (I just use the dirt I sweep up from the street) and a few brush piles (the remains of pruning the trees).

And of course, most important, is that you never ever use herbicides, pesticides or non-organic plant or grass food. Why would you even consider these dangerous things when there are so many organic products available?

If you are faced with a naked clear cut new yard, do not despair and donít give in to that temptation to plant sterile grass which only wastes water and money. Think of it as a chance to "birdscape". You can restore much of your yard by simply starting at the edges and leaving it unmowed. You will be amazed and surprised at how quickly Mother Nature will restore what was destroyed. Each year you can expand your "unmowed" area and before you know it you will be paying host to birds, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles and more.

A Pinelands Primer

It is hard to believe we are already at the 25th Anniversary of the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Program (CMP). It seems like just yesterday when I opened the paper and read that Egg Harbor Township was going to have to build 33,000 new houses as part of the program. The township did not have any part in the discussions or planning. There is no way, I thought! "Donít worry, it will never happen in your lifetime" we were told.

Maybe you never heard of the Pinelands before you moved to South Jersey. Maybe you thought that by moving to the Pinelands in Egg Harbor Township you were moving to a protected area, safe from development. Maybe your builder even hinted at that when he sold you your house. Maybe you wonder why everyone talks about the Pinelands but you have no idea what it is really all about.

For the benefit of our new residents, many of whom may not be from around here and others who paid absolutely no attention to "Pinelands" when they lived on the island, I offer a brief overview. The plan is incredibly complicated and affects about 1/5 of New Jersey so this is by no means a comprehensive review.

The Pinelands Preserve consists of 56 different municipalities and it is a regional plan. Some municipalities have their entire area within the Pinelands, while others have only a small amount of acreage. The preserve was set aside with the idea of protecting a large swath of New Jersey and the water in the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer. When each of these 56 municipalites draws up their own local master plans, it must adhere to the CMP and the Pineland Commission must approve it. If it does not, for instance if Egg Harbor Township simply down zoned the remaining undeveloped acres in the township, the builders would be able to go to the Pinelands Commission for their approvals, bypassing our local Planning Board entirely. That is why township officials cannot simply "stop the development".

The center of the Preserve is the most stringently protected area and that is where the least amount of development can take place. Most of that area is north of us in Ocean and Burlington Counties. But the thought was when you remove development opportunities from one area, you must set up a place where development can happen. After all, people have to live somewhere. In order to provide for those areas the Commission set up Regional Growth Areas (RGAs). Some municipalities are entirely low growth; some are a combination of low and high growth. Unfortunately for EHT, we are totally high growth. While the RGAs comprise less than 10% of the overall Pinelands Preserve, they must be zoned to accept 60% of the new homes built in the Preserve.

State law does not allow for timed growth, that is, allowing only a certain numbers of houses to be built in a year which would make it easier for roads and schools to catch up to the growth. State law also does not allow for impact fees.

New Jersey recently used the Pinelands CMP as a blueprint to set up another water saving preservation area, the Highlands. There are no mandatory growth areas and the areas that voluntarily accept growth (on their own terms, of course) get $15,000 per unit from the state to help with the costs of schools and roads. Everyone involved will tell you they learned from the mistakes they made with Egg Harbor Township. Glad to know we could help.

What You Need to Know About Mercury

Toxics are a component of many ordinary consumer products we use in our homes and at work every day. Some products may present a health risk during normal use, but others are a problem when we fail to dispose of them properly. It is important to know what is in the products we use, and how best to dispose of them to reduce environmental health risks.

One common toxic is mercury, found in older glass thermometers, certain automotive switches, thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs, including the new energy-conserving compact fluorescent bulbs. Exposure to mercury, particularly through inhalation, can cause neurological and organ damage in humans and animals, and is particularly hazardous to children and developing fetuses. Mercury is unique in that it is a liquid at room temperature. If uncontained, such as when a fluorescent bulb or a glass thermometer breaks, the liquid metal vaporizes readily, presenting a serious risk of inhalation. Over the years, mercury-containing trash burned in incinerators and buried in landfills has dispersed this toxic metal far and wide. Many of the NJDEPís fish advisories alert residents on high levels of mercury in game fish, a result of incinerators emanating airborne mercury that ultimately falls into water bodies. Mercury in fluorescent light bulbs is a significant environmental problem. A typical long fluorescent bulb contains

about 5 - 10 mg. of mercury. But with only about one-quarter recycled of the US annual discard of over 700 million fluorescent bulbs, hundreds of thousands of pounds of the toxic metal are making their way into landfills or incinerators, and thus into our air and water.

Recycling and Cleanup

Although not mandated by New Jersey law, it is in everyoneís best interest to help keep mercury out of the environment through proper disposal of all fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury items. For example when a mercury thermometer breaks, cleanup is tricky. Just trying to collect spilled mercury can spread and increase its dispersal into the air. The best way to avoid accidental exposure is to acquire "mercury free" alternatives, such as

digital or tape. Business owners, who use the lionís share of fluorescents, can protect the

health of their employees and the general public by engaging "universal waste handlers" to collect spent bulbs and recycle them at a qualified facility. Non-commercial individuals can take both compact and regular fluorescent bulbs, as well as thermostats, thermometers and other mercury-containing items, to the county household hazardous waste collections.

New Jersey recently adopted legislation that initiated a successful effort to reduce another source of airborne mercury, mercury-containing automotive switches. By requiring the removal of these switches from cars before they are crushed and melted down, the law will keep several tons of mercury out of the air.

If you do experience a spill, do not use a broom or vacuum to clean it up, and never wash mercury down a drain. Evacuate the spill area, turn off air circulation systems, shut the door, and consult your local environmental health agency for advice on cleanup and disposal. For small quantities (1 Ė 2 Tbsp.), you can do the job yourself if you get proper instruction. Mercury enters the environment from many sources including coalburning power plants, combustion of fuel and solid waste, industrial and medical uses, refineries, batteries and paints. As with most environmental problems, the "answer" will involve many different efforts by many different parties. By keeping informed and taking responsibility for proper disposal of household products containing mercury, we can each pitch in to help reduce mercury in the environment, and to protect ourselves and our families in the bargain.

For Further Information

NJDEP Is Your Life Mercury Free at www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/lrm/mercury_brochure.pdf

NJDEP Compliance Advisory on recent law mandating removal of mercury switches rom end-of-life vehicles at www.state.nj.us//dep/enforcement/advisories/2006-01.pdf

USEPA fact sheet on mercury spills at www.epa.gov/mercury/disposal.htm

 

Arbor Day

Check all that apply. You can

____Jump tall buildings in a single bound

____Stop a speeding bullet with your bare hands

____See everything with your x ray vision

____Plant a tree

You donít have to be Superman to save the world. You just need to care enough to provide for the future by planting a tree or caring for the ones you already have. It is April so it must be time for my annual plea to the people of Egg Harbor Township to just STOP cutting down all of our trees!

Consider that Atlantic County has one of the highest cancer rates in the state; consider that asthma, ADHD, autism are all of the rise in children. Our weather comes from the west and there is nothing we can do to stop the prevailing westerly winds. Unfortunately they bring with them much of the pollution that starts in other states. Until now our abundance of trees certainly helped clear the air. And it is not only the developers who are killing all of our trees. How many times have you seen new homeowners start clearing their lots before they even unpack the moving van! To make matters worse, the trees are then replaced with grass and the addition of pounds of fertilizers and pesticides. All poisons! Read the packages. Consider that these poisons then wash off into our water supply.

It is April and already the automatic watering systems are running and all the precious water runs off the yards and into our streams and ground water. What doesnít get wasted by running off into the ocean comes back to us in our drinking water complete with the addition of all those poisons.

How much better it would be if we planted and nurtured the trees that we have been blessed with. No need for poisonous pesticides. And of course not only do they drink up excess water, they clear the air, add beauty, homes and food for wildlife.

April 28 is Arbor Day. The Environmental Commission will be dedicating this yearís tree to our Service men and women. We will be at Veteranís Park at 11:30 AM and all are welcome to join us.

We will also be holding a Patcong Creek Clean Up on Sunday May 7 at 10:30 AM in partnership with the Linwood Environmental Commission, ACUA Clean Communities Program and others. This is the first joint project the Environmental Commissions are doing and all are welcome to join us, including groups, families and individuals. We will be having a Community Bar-B-Q after the clean up. You MUST register by calling Lauren at 272-6950.

By the way, I have noticed again a big increase in trash thrown along the streets, at school bus stops, thrown out of cars. Whatís up with that? If we all cleaned up after ourselves, there would be no need for community clean ups. I guess people are waiting for Superman to pick up their trash for them too.

 

Beauty attracts beauty in a well-planned garden

Spring tips on natural horticulture

Because they add so much to the beauty and enjoyment of home gardens, backyard horticulturists usually welcome certain winged creatures, such as birds, bees and butterflies. Making the right gardening choices will help them feel at home.

One way is to provide an inviting environment. Many types of birds find both food and habitat in shrubs, trees, wildflowers and perennials, so selecting plants that produce flowers, fruit or seeds at different times will assure an endless banquet for birds throughout the year. For example, elderberry and blueberry plants produce berries in the spring, while sunflowers, Echinacea and black-eyed Susan yield seeds late in the summer. Be sure to leave the dried flower heads in place so birds can feast on the seeds as they ripen.

The environmental bonus is that many birds eat huge numbers of insects each day, which helps control the population of mosquitoes and other pesky insects.

Bees also have an important function, both in the garden and in the worldís food supply. By helping to pollinate plants, bees are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of the food U.S. consumers eat, according to National Geographic News.

Donít be afraid of bees!! They will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Simply teach your children to respect them and there will be no problems. As you may have read or heard, bees are having a hard time surviving and they are vital to our food supply. To attract bees, plant colorful flowers in groups and cultivate sweet-smelling herbs such as basil among vegetable crops. Fennel in the garden provides nectar for the bees and also attracts beneficial insects.

Nothing spruces up a garden like butterflies. They also benefit the ecosystem by spreading pollen as they move from flower to flower. Some of New Jerseyís native butterflies are Monarch, Tiger Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak and the Silver Spotted Skipper. Butterflies like sunny locations and brilliant colors. When looking for a place to lay their eggs, they prefer plant species that their caterpillars will eat. Many native New Jersey plants and trees provide both food and habitat to butterflies, including flowering dogwood, wild black cherry, milkweed, hyssops, phlox, asters, viburnum and violets.

The students of Eagle Academy and the Environmental Commission are in the process of planting a natural landscape at the Arboretum and Nature Center. We will have a native butterfly Garden and a Hummingbird Garden. When competed, residents will be able to visit and obtain the names of the plants to replicate the gardens at their homes.

Fast Track Permitting Law is Bad for EHT

In June of 2004, the state legislature passed a bill in both the Senate and Assembly (S1368/A3008), commonly called the "Fast Track Permitting Law". This bill received little public attention because it was rushed through both houses in 3 days. It is said it was passed as a sweetener for developers because of their opposition to the Highland Water Protection Act. Unfortunately for us, the law specifically states that it applies to Pinelands High Growth Areas which of course includes about one half of Egg Harbor Township.

The bill's 45 day timeline prevents meaningful public participation and prevents local review of development projects. It will force municipalities to approve bad projects and further takes away home rule. It will extend sewers without any local approval. Water Quality Management Plan amendments will be automatically issued as permits by rule without any municipal input, allowing developers to lay sewer lines and tap water supplies in areas not zoned for growth. More sewers always equals more growth. They will then approach the local planning board with permits already in hand, making it impossible to stop the project.

Of further concern to Egg Harbor Township, this law gives the State the power to unilaterally designate new and additional "Smart Growth Areas". The State Department of Community Affairs, DEP and Smart Growth Ombudsman can arbitrarily designate areas for growth just as the Pinelands Commission did 25 years ago. This is of particular concern to EHT, because about one half of the township is currently somewhat protected by CAFRA regulations. It would make sense to developers to ask the state to remove those protections and designate the rest of the township for "Smart Growth", in other words, for high growth development.

Since fast track came to light, 3 federal agencies (US Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have written 5 letters raising concerns about fast track violating various federal statutes and jeopardizing federal funding for a variety of state infrastructure and environmental programs, something New Jersey can ill afford given the current budget crisis.

Recognizing these serious problems, former Governor James McGreevey did sign an Executive Order for a moratorium until June 2005. At that time the flood gates of development will open unless this law is repealed.

The Death of a Tree

A tree died in Egg Harbor Township on Earth Day. Yes, it was only one of the thousands, if not millions of trees that are dieing on a daily basis in our beautiful town, but this tree is different in that it did not have to die. It was murdered in cold blood at the Egg Harbor Township Arboretum for no reason other than vandalism. I assume the person or persons who killed this tree were trying to send a message to those that would use and enjoy the Arboretum. These are probably the same people who stole the township street sign and professional Arboretum sign over the preceding weekend in an effort to do what? Make the Arboretum disappear? Well, I also have a message to send to the people who would do such a mean spirited vicious thing:

You killed a beautiful mature tree for no reason at a time when the township is losing more trees than it can afford. It was not your tree to kill, but belonged to all of the people of this township. You put a damper on a loving memorial service for a man who had given many years of his life unselfishly to this township as a volunteer. That man was our late chairman Dick Bolger. Did you consider his family when you were cutting down this tree to block their access to the spot where his Memorial Tree was planted?

You attempted to ruin a dedication ceremony for the Arboretum Overlook that was built by students of this township, a positive thing for everyone and they were so proud of their accomplishment! What lesson were you attempting to teach these young people with your vandalism?

I canít imagine what you think would be the result of your shameful actions. Perhaps you would rather the township use this area for recreation fields? Our plan is to never develop it much beyond where it is now. It will not have many amenities. It is not exactly going to be drawing crowds of motorists. Perhaps you would rather the township sell the property for houses to be built. Most residents would be thrilled to have a nature preserve, a place dedicated to preserving trees.

If you meant to bring plenty of attention to the Arboretum, you did that. If you meant to bring out the best in the township and people, well you did that also. Public Works, the Police Department and the Township Committee were happy to help clean up the mess you left behind. Ordinary citizens outraged by your actions have contributed to the reward fund. The sign could be replaced but we do not plan to do that since the sign that was there was not appreciated. And of course a tree of that size and that age cannot be replaced in my lifetime, but we will continue to plant trees for the future generations to enjoy.

Hopefully you will step out from the cover of dark and let us know what your gripe with this wonderful Arboretum could possibly be. Only in that way, when we know your complaints, can we work together to solve them. Killing our trees, stealing the signs, that is not going to solve the difficulty you have. So please, return the signs, stop killing the trees, step forward and let us know your complaints so we can work together to solve them. Send a letter ransom style to the mayorís office if you wish to remain anonymous. I promise we will do whatever we possibly can as a community to make you happy. Having one small spot in this township that is dedicated to preserving trees is worth the trouble to us.

A New Leaf

Visioning Team Update

Just a reminder, the next public meeting of the Egg Harbor Township Livable Community Visioning Team will be held Tuesday May 16, 7 PM at the Intermediate School (Alder and Dogwood). Come out and let you ideas be known. The volunteers of the Visioning Team will be present along with the professional planners from Vollmer Associates and members of the School Board. The Visioning Team members have put a lot of time into this effort. Hopefully, it will be worthwhile in the end.

Arbor Day

Congratulations to the winners of the Arbor Day Poster Contest from the Joyanne D. Miller School. What a difficult time choosing the winners! All of the Class Winner Posters were so great. Thanks to all of the 3rd graders who participated. And many thanks to those who donated the prizes, the EHT Environmental Commission, The Childrenís Museum(Shore Mall) and Lindy Hops Ice Cream (Genuardiís Plaza, Fire Rd). Please support the people who support your children.

First Prize: Justin Hlifka

Second Prize: Bryan String

Third Prize: Victoria McCulley

The Environmental Commission distributed nearly 600 seedlings to the 3rd graders at Miller School on Arbor Day, April 28. We then dedicated the Arbor Day 2006 Tree planted at Veteranís Memorial Park in honor of our service men and women. Environmental Commission member and patriot Joan Welsh wrote and delivered this beautiful poem:

From The Heart

This tree is planted no in memory of,

But rather in honor of

Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air Corps,

This is who this tree is planted for.

For those who fight the everyday fight

Guarding our country, morning through night,

We must appreciate the things they do

Not to mention, the must leave families too.

We thank these men and women, patriots all,

Who willingly answer our countryís call

So a golden ribbon this tree will wear

A very small token from those who care

Some Easy Ways to Go Green at Home

Many "Green" ideas for homes--such as plugging air leaks, improving insulation and choosing energy efficient lighting and appliances--can be easily accomplished. By making your home more energy efficient, youíre actually helping to fight global warming, because energy generation is a major producer of greenhouse gases.

Saving money is another good reason for making green improvements around the house. On average, green buildings use 30 percent less energy than conventional buildings, according the American Institute of Architects. Water saving improvements, like fixing dripping faucets and installing faucet aerators, low flow toilets and showerheads will also save money on water bills while conserving resources.

Homeowners can typically cut heating and cooling bills by $100 a year or more just by sealing windows, doors and other openings with weather stripping and caulk, according the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization that has developed a set of performance standards for construction known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Here are some easy ways to Go Green:

Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbsóchanging just five of the most frequently used bulbs can save $100 or more per year in electricity;

Unplug things that glow. Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows after you turn it off is an energy vampire. Plug them into power strips and turn off the strip when not in use.

Recycle your electronics. Go to www.mygreenelectronics.org to find a recycling source in your area.

Get an energy audit of your home.

Support local farmers. Buying local means less energy was used to get the products to you.

Fix your drips! More than 36 states are looking at water shortages in the next 6 years. Donít waste water.

Let your grass grow. Most grasses do best when they are at least 2.5 inches tall.

Buy appliances with the ENERGY STAR emblem to cut your energy bill by $50 per appliance annually;

Protect indoor air quality by choosing painting supplies and cleaning products that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs);

There is also a wide variety of building products made with recycled contents are not only environmentally friendly but also affordable, readily available and of high quality.

References:

NJDEP, Recycled building products: www.state.nj.us/dep/dshw/recycling/buy_recy/index.html

US Green Building Council, 16 Ways to Green Your Home: https://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=2121

National Association of Home Builders, Model Green Home Building Guidelines: www.nahb.org/gbg

American Institute of Architects, The Economics of Green: www.aia.org/SiteObjects/files/Economics%20of%20Green06.pdf

Green building supplies: www.greensage.com

Environmentally Sound Lawn Care

Well, we made it through the first water crisis, but it will not be the last. Why not prepare your lawn now for the next time? When it comes to lawns, it does not have to be all or nothing. You can have your grass and still plant shrubs and trees around the edges as a background. And you can have an environmentally sensitive lawn. Any small steps you take will be an improvement over using dangerous chemicals and pesticides. The best way to maintain an organic lawn is to have a healthy lawn that takes care of itself. Here are some easy ways to get your grass growing in the right direction.

Raise you mowing height. Grass should be cut at 2.5-3" in order to maintain a healthy root system. Scalped lawns, and we have all seen them, dry up quickly in the heat of the summer and encourage weed growth.

Recycle clippings. This adds organic matter to the lawn. If you cut your grass high, the clippings will be short and easily dispersed into the lawn. You can help it along by using a mulching mower. This type of mower is also great for mulching your autumn leaves, reducing their volume tremendously.

Choose the right fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are easily available at garden centers and are so much safer than chemicals. They release nutrients slowly and you will not have to worry about burning the grass when applying. Even if you are using a synthetic fertilizer, be sure to chose one with low phosphorous levels.

Water Smart. Infrequent watering is actually better for your grass because it encourages the roots to reach deep. Water only enough to keep it green during dry spells. You do not need to water your grass when it is raining!

Aerate. Soil compaction is probably one of the worse things that can happen to any landscaping. South Jersey soil is easily compacted because it is sand over clay. Many of the retention ponds that hold water do so due to the effects of the heavy machinery running over them and compacting the soil. Likewise, in the newer houses, remember it was not too long ago that heavy machinery was on your lawn. Aerate once or twice a year.

Pick the best grass. Be sure to choose a grass that adapts well in our South Jersey climate and to your conditions. Sun, shade, wet or dry? The Atlantic County Master Gardening Program is a good resource. You can have your soil tested and go from there. Or check out this site www.rcre.rutgers.edu/garden/faq.asp

This year think habitat over neatness in your yard

I always say autumn is the most dangerous time of year for trees. It is when they shed their leaves and for this simple, natural act so many homeowners condemn them to death. They hate raking leaves so they prefer a treeless yard. (as if that will keep the wind from blowing leaves into their yards anyway!) The problem with this line of thinking is that if we all decided to think that way we will soon have a treeless world.

Many residents work to make their yards neat looking before the winter comes but in truth removing fallen leaves and clearing dead vegetation actually deprives many species of food and habitat and wastes natural nutrients that could be improving the soil.

Botanists recommend that gardeners leave some dead plants standing, especially those with seed heads, to provide food and cover for birds. Dried stalks, leaves and seed pods in perennial beds are not mere debris--they actually provide winter hiding places for insect-eating toads, over-wintering beneficial insects and butterfly eggs, larva and chrysalises.

Even the annual flurry of falling leaves offers many backyard benefits. Instead of raking and bagging up leaves, try turning them into free mulching material for planted beds. A cozy blanket of organic matter helps insulate the soil, preventing it from alternately freezing and thawing, leading to soil heaving and root damage. Mulch also prevents erosion and enhances the soilís ability to retain water and nutrients. And decomposing mulch provides a food source for beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.

Itís easy to make leaf mulch by using a leaf shredder or running over piles of leaves with a lawn mower. To protect shrubs and perennials from severe winter cold, mulch should be laid down in early winter after the soil has cooled but not yet frozen.

According to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden web site, home landscapers should leave an inch or two of space between the mulch and trunks of trees and shrubs to avoid inviting fungus and insect problems as well as voles that eat tender bark and roots in winter.

Another way to make the most of autumnís backyard bounty is leaf composting, a process that speeds natural decomposition and produces a rich, crumbly organic material that can be used to naturally feed the soil in gardens and lawns. A simple way to make compost is to pile leaves and yard clippings in a large heap at least 4 feet wide and 3 feet high and turn the pile periodically, taking care to keep it moist. Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension offers Fact Sheets on backyard composting at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/subcategory.asp?cat=5&sub=1001.

Composting is a nature-friendly alternative to artificial fertilizers. New Jersey homeowners spent over $120 million in 2001 for lawn fertilizers alone, according to a Rutgers University survey. Overuse of fertilizers harms the environment when rainwater carries backyard chemicals into the nearest stream where they interfere with natural ecosystems and eventually find their way into drinking water supplies.

Donít kill your trees for doing what they are supposed to do. Enjoy the time outside instead. It is good for you and good for the environment.

This message is not just idle talk

Turning off the engine after 10 seconds protects young lungs

It is tempting to let your car or school bus warm up on cold winter mornings, but, do you know the damage the exhaust from idling car engines can cause to the health of children and other residents? Vehicle exhaust is the leading source of hazardous air pollution in our state.

School zones are a popular place for idling cars and school buses to line up to drop off or pick up students. Unfortunately, these are areas where idling can cause the greatest harm to children, who breathe in more exhaust because they are closer to tailpipe level and because they breathe at a faster rate than adults. And those sitting inside their vehicles are not immune from the danger.

When youíre sitting in a line of idling vehicles, you and the baby in the back seat are probably breathing in more pollutants than those outside because the air intake of your car is facing directly into the tailpipe of the idling vehicle in front of you.

Vehicle-related air pollution can cause asthma and other respiratory problems and allergies, and they also contribute to heart disease and higher cancer rates in high-traffic areas. About one out of every four school age children in New Jersey has asthma.

State law already prohibits idling for longer than three minutes, but environmental experts strongly recommend turning off the engine whenever a vehicle is stopped for more than ten seconds.

From an environmental standpoint, letting a vehicle idle typically uses more fuel than stopping and restarting the engine, and therefore releases more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

The Environmental Commission is encouraging all residents to turn off their engines whenever they are waiting: at a drive-through window, at the post office, when stalled in traffic for long periods, while gassing their cars, while picking up passengers or any time they will be stopped for longer than ten seconds. Local merchants should also ask vendors to turn off their truck engines while unloading.

References:

NJ Environmental Federation Idle Free NJ: http://www.cleanwateraction.org/njef/campaigns-noidlingsuccess.html

What We Did for Our Summer Vacation

You have not heard about the Arboretum for a while because we needed to do two phases at once in order to get the proper plans and permits. Eagle Academy was able to obtain a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the students of Eagle with the guidance of carpenter Jack Aspenberg completed our absolutely beautiful bathroom and well house building in July. The well is totally solar powered. The state inspector admitted he had never seen anything like it. Six of the seven solar panels power the pump that draws the water from about 100 feet below the surface. The last panel powers the fan for the new composting toilet. Polistina & Associates Engineers donated all of the design and engineering work, Jack and his brother Glenn donated many hours of time. Even the employees of WorldWater Power Company which supplied the solar panels donated their time to help us install the panels on the roof. And we must thank the school building department for the time their employees put in on the electrical and plumbing aspects of the project so we could pass all necessary inspections. The township building department worked with our very tight schedule to get the inspections completed. Finally public works was right there to help us clean up the site afterwards. As you can see this was truly a community endeavor that started with such a simple idea.

As you read this we will be working on the plans for the next phase which is to landscape the entire area around the overlook. Planting will be done in September with the help of a Wildlife Incentives Program (WHIP) grant. The landscaping will include a Monarch Butterfly Waystation along with other native flowers and trees.

You will also see the addition of a Bluebird Sanctuary at the Arboretum thanks to township resident John Layton.

We were delighted to find out while we spent a few weeks working out there that the Arboretum is also a hiding place for a group of geocachers. If you do not know what a fun family activity geocaching is, go to their web site www.geocaching.com and learn about it. Go to New Jersey and look for the "Itsy Bitsy Arboretum Spyder".

It is only due to the fact that so many township residents "bought in" to this project with their time and caring that we were able to complete it on time to file for our NJ Solar Energy Rebates. We were very proud of the fact that the Dodge Foundation chose this project to include in their yearly report to their benefactors. We have also applied for the Governorís Environmental Excellence Award, the Innovation in Governance Award and the Association of NJ Environmental Commission Achievement Award. Yes, it is that good of a project!

Grand Opening is scheduled for October 5, 2006 and I hope many township residents come and see what a few students from Eagle Academy and your friends and neighbors did for you.

Regular readers of this column know I have long been imploring you to grow less grass, more trees. I have promised you that the water you are wasting on grass will someday be needed by your children. But even I did not expect that day to come so soon with the water restrictions issued by NJ American Water. We have had normal rainfall this summer and only a few hot days which is not at all unusual for South Jersey in July and August. I am truly alarmed that the water company cannot deal with normal weather. It seems ridiculous that the Pinelands Commission is forcing us to build beyond the capacity of our water resources.

So I urge you again to consider having less lawn. The National Wildlife Federation is only a few backyards short of meeting their goal of having 70,000 certified Backyard Wildlife Habitats for their 70th Anniversary. Instead of facing a thirsty lawn why not help them meet this goal by turning your yard into a wildlife habitat? Go to their website for ideas and the certification forms. www.nwf.org Or if you are like I was for the longest time and know you have a certifiable yard (and I mean that in the nicest way!) take that extra step and file the paperwork now.

The Survivor Tree

You never know which straw it is that is going to break the camelís back. You add them until there is just that one too many. But you never know until it happens.

Such was the case recently with the old tree at the corner of Zion and Ocean Heights Ave. You know the one, there is a big sign there announcing the coming of Boardwalk Bank but some of us remember when a little white horse lived on that piece of property and that tree has lived there for what seems like forever. When we looked at the plans for the bank at the Environmental Commission we asked right away that the tree be saved. It is just one tree after all and we have lost so many but for some reason that tree seems to be so special to so many people. The Planning Board agreed and it was memorialized that the tree should stay and be surrounded by a construction fence to ensure its safety.

So, it was just fate that I happened to be driving by while there was a huge backhoe in the process of knocking the old tree down. They were putting in pipes for the hardware store across the tree, a lot that was totally clear cut to shoehorn the store in, so what difference did one tree make to them? I thought, there is no way I am going to sit here and watch this tree come down on top of all of the other trees that were supposed to be saved in this township. All of those buffers and all of those specimen trees that are supposed to be marked and surrounded by construction fences. All of those buffers and trees that are now in heaps of wood chips. I was just tired of the "mistakes", tired of the destruction. It was that final straw. By the time I could get over there, one huge branch was already down. No one had told them it was supposed to stay! So it occurred to me that many of you drive by the trees, watch them coming down and in fact you have no way of knowing those trees or that buffer was supposed to be saved.

The same thing happened in Northfield when the trees at the corner of Mill and Shore Road were murdered in plain sight. Everyone saw it and afterwards people said, well, you saw it, why didnít you call someone? I would guess it is because they had no idea who to call or in fact what was supposed to be happening there. We all assume the people at the site know what is going on. We are wrong.

I happened to be there at the right time and happened to know of a tree that was to stay. Thanks to Planning Board member, Manny Aponte, who also keeps an eye on it, there is now a fence that says to everyone "this tree stays!" Even after all of this, there are people who shrug and say the tree is a goner. If so, it is one tree too many and we need to stop this.

If you see construction happening and think there is too much clearing going on, I urge you to contact the Planning Department at Town Hall and have them make sure "mistakes" are not being made. Do it quickly because we all know now how fast those tree killing machines are. Donít assume the people there know what is going on or that what is happening is correct. There is so much construction going on, it is hard for any one department to watch everything at once. We need all 40,000 pairs of eyes in the township to help. And send a kind thought to that little tree on the corner as you go by. It is a survivor.

The True Value of Forests

Trees and forests provide us with essential health, recreational and aesthetic benefits. What they do we literally cannot live without. Yet our forest management in this country and around the world fails to focus on the value of forests and often treats them as if they are merely something in the way, to be torn down and chipped up as efficiently as possible. In the case of Egg Harbor Township, we have lost hundreds of acres of mixed growth forests in just the past few years, forests filled with a healthy mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. Forests that actually would have had a better chance of survival in the case of fire or disease than the "precious" trees in the Pine Barrens. Such is the wisdom of the Pinelands Commission. They have failed to see the forest for the trees.

It is time for everyone who cares about forests and trees to demand a better approach. Some of the benefits of protecting the Townshipís forests include:

Cleaner drinking water and less erosion

Cleaner air thatís free of pollutants

Processing of harmful carbon dioxide

Better control of rain runoff which would result in fewer flooding problems

More habitat for wildlife

Cooler temperatures and lower heating and cooling bills thanks to an increased tree canopy

Improved quality of life

If we do not take care of our trees and forests we will have to replicate the public service they provide through costly man-made devises such as power plants and storm drains. Forests provide these services more cheaply and more effectively.

It is a failure to recognize treesí financial and ecological benefits and services that leads to a failure to protect them. And we will have to spend money to replace their services. Houston for example lost an annual value of $38 million in air pollution removal services and $237 million in storm water management by allowing its tree canopy to decline.

Our local trees also contribute to the world wide canopy which is essential in removing carbon dioxide for all its inhabitants. The Pinelands Commission focuses on a few hundred acres of small Pigmy Pines while they allow forests that contribute to the entire world be destroyed. This is just one example of why their myopic view does not serve the people well.

It is for this reason that each tree you preserve and each tree you plant to replace the ones lost to build your home will become a valuable part of the whole. Please do not remove your trees, especially for such silly reasons as not wanting to rake leaves or wash spring pollen from your car. That is an incredibly small price to pay for the air you breathe. We cannot stop the Pinelands Commission from destroying our valuable forests but we can each contribute to mitigating at least some of the damage.

Submitted by Janis Hetrick with some facts obtained from American Forests

Less is Often More for a Great Yard

Homeowners invest untold time, sweat and money to gain unofficial bragging rights as their neighborhoodís most beautiful yard. But itís important to remember that our beautiful yards are also part of the environment. What we do to them can have an impact on wildlife, water quality, water supply, air quality and even energy use.

Why not try "greenscaping," an environmentally beneficial approach to yard design and maintenance that saves time and money by letting Mother Nature do more of the work.

Good soil is a living ecosystem unto itself, containing about four billion tiny organisms per teaspoon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These organisms help to loosen the soil structure and make room for air, water and plant root growth while making it easier for plants to use nutrients in the soil.

The overuse of chemical fertilizers contributes to water pollution as fast moving runoff collects lawn chemicals that end up in streams, lakes and ground water which is our drinking water. South Jersey has always been the "sponge" of the state of New Jersey, serving as a filter between contaminants and the ocean. Due to our increase in development, much of this sponge has been destroyed. We all need to do our part to stop this cycle.

Feeding the soil is often as easy as leaving grass clippings right where they land, or "grasscycling." Spreading organic, rather than chemical, fertilizer over the lawn in the spring or fall is a better and safer way to maintain rich soil.

To determine if the soil has the right PH balance to grow a healthy lawn, you can use a simple soil test kit. If soil is too acidic, adding ground limestone helps restore balance while improving the soil structure and increasing the drought tolerance of the lawn.

Other ways to save time and conserve resources include watering early in the morning, when less evaporation occurs; watering deeply and less frequently; and placing rain barrels under downspouts to collect water for later use on the lawn and yard plants. Water conservation is about to become one of the most important issues in New Jersey.

Consider alternatives to grass in shady areas or near streams and lakes. Donít fight Mother Nature. Plant ground covers that are better suited to these marginal areas. Leaving a buffer of dense native vegetation to filter and slow stormwater runoff around streams and lakes, prevent bank erosion and provide a welcoming habitat for birds and other wildlife. Plus if you are in a CAFRA area it is required by the DEP.

Sometimes the best place to take care of the environment is in our own back yards. When we find ways to work in harmony with Mother Nature instead of wasting time and resources, everybody wins.

The Importance of Vernal Pools

What an exciting discovery made by Middle School 7th grader Drew Lacovara of a Southern Gray Tree Frog. According to the Current article of May 24, 2006, Drew found the frog in a retention pond near Blackman Road.

What this indicates to me is that this retention pond, one of the most scorned of all development phases in Egg Harbor Township, has transformed itself from an eyesore to a vernal pool. A vernal pool is nothing more than an indentation in the land which collects water mostly in the spring. Usually you will find them in undisturbed forests. It is not a lake, or even a pond, but what you may have called just a mud hole. By the hot days of summer it will probably be dried up. But it is of great importance during its sometimes short existence as a breeding area for delicate amphibians. The creatures that breed in vernal pools rather than lakes or rivers have fewer offspring because they do not face the same dangers and mortality rate as those in larger bodies of water. But of course, that also makes each death of greater importance. And each surviving amphibian is a great victory.

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has taken a great interest in protecting vernal pools because of their importance to overall environmental health. Amphibians are now recognized as the "canary in the mine shaft". The decline of amphibians in the state has alarmed all environmentalists, because that is the first indication of a decline on overall environmental health in the state.

The DEP will take steps to protect vernal pools, but first they must know about them. That is why they offer free classes in identifying both the frogs and the pools and they ask everyone to notify them if they know of a vernal pool. Once the pool is verified by the DEP, it will be subject to 300í buffers. You can notify them online at the State of NJ web page and also find out where and when they offer their classes. So if you are out and about in our dwindling woods and think you have found a vernal pool, be sure to take note of where it is and notify the DEP. It could affect the survival of those woods.

I know many township residents get upset when they see frogs in their retention ponds. They may run to town hall and complain about lack of maintenance. But we really need to change our thinking and offer these areas as a home to the wildlife we have killed off and displaced within the last few years. You may not like frogs but if you want to continue to live on this earth, you are going to have to learn to share it with them. Think of your retentions ponds as wildlife sanctuaries and they may take on an entirely new importance to you.

I often wonder why people move to CAFRA areas in Egg Harbor Township and then cut down all of their trees and refuse to share with wildlife. In some CAFRA areas, people move to developments that actually have DEP buffer zones and then want to clear the buffer areas. You are not permitted to disturb a buffer at all, not even the underbrush. If you do you will be heavily fined by the DEP. It is the homeownersí responsibility to learn about their property before they move there, especially if you are in CAFRA. Of course, it is the builderís responsibility to inform their buyers of the buffers also so a homeowner can decide if they want to live within those restrictions. Bottom line is we canít just kill everything. We need bugs, we need frogs, we need birds and most of all we need trees. Each year, we expect fewer trees to do the job of cleaning our pollution and make the air we breath. At some point, they are just not going to be able to handle the task.

Help Make EHT a "Livable Community"

I think we all have a little of a frustrated planner within us. Admit it! How many times have you gone by something, an intersection, a new store, a development and asked yourself why did they do it that way? I could have done something better than that! Well, now is your chance to let your inner planner loose.

You may remember that Egg Harbor Township was chosen to participate in the Pinelands Excellence Program Livable Community Plan through a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. It has been some time in the works but the Visioning Team has had its first few meetings with Vollmer Associates, the planning professionals given the contract by the Pinelands Commission and Egg Harbor Township.

The Visioning Team consists of various residents, elected officials and professionals. An effort was made to make it a cross section of the community but with one goal in mind, to work together for a better EHT.

The first thing the Vollmer Associates did was interview various residents and go on a tour conducted by Township Administrator Peter Miller. It was interesting for me to hear these professional planners say they had never seen a scope of development such as is taking place here. In fact it was stated only a few places in Nevada and Arizona that might have anything similar. Given the rate of growth and sheer volume they said they were amazed at the excellent job the township has done keeping ahead of things in terms of schools and recreation particularly. It actually felt good to hear these statements after years of being beat over the head by the Pinelands Commission and even some EHT residents about why the township cannot do a better planning job. What I heard the representatives from Vollmer say is that no community could.

At our second meeting we did a SWOT exercise, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Working as a group we came up with all of the usually suspects, overcrowded roads and schools, loss of trees and open space, difficulty getting from one development to the next, the seemingly endless need for more recreation fields. Even the planners admitted they have never before worked in a town where the zoning was mandated by an outside agency and we simply have to find a way to work with it.

Hamilton Township and Winslow Township have done this sort of planning a few years ago and one lesson everyone came away with then was that all of the good planning ideas in world will not be much good if the residents are not on board with it. As a result, in the case of EHT, it was decided to involve the public from the beginning.

You chance to put in your two cents is coming first on Tuesday, March 7 at the Intermediate School (Alder and Dogwood Aves) at 7 PM. Vollmer Associates and the Visioning Team members will be present. Be advised, however, that this is not a time to argue the merits of the Pinelands Comprehensive Plan. This was made clear to us at our first meeting with Vollmer. Our goal is to end up with a "livable community plan", one that hopefully the majority of us can be happy and excited about.

What make a successful "livable community"? Is it mixed use housing, community schools, walkable roads, more stores? Consult your inner planner about what will make Egg Harbor Township a successful community, not only next year, but 20 years down the road and bring your ideas on March 7.

Where Eagles Fly, an Update on the EHT Arboretum and Nature Center

You will probably hear them before you see them. Two young eagles have spent a lot of time this summer hanging out at the Arboretum. They are a beautiful sight. There is no guarantee but if you are lucky, when you are out there you will see at least one of them on the high electric tower or soaring over the meadow.

We have planted the Wildlife Garden, which may not look like a familiar garden to you. That is because it is filled with plants that are native to New Jersey and welcomed by butterflies and hummingbirds. The garden is really for them. The Monarch Butterfly Way Station has attracted not only Monarchs but many other butterfly varieties along with tons of bees. This is a good thing! Bees are having such a difficult time surviving in our modern world and without them we do not have our strawberries and blues and peaches and other food products. So we are glad to give them a sanctuary. Donít be scared. They really will not bother you; they are only interested in the flowers. There are also lots of damselflies, dragonflies and other things I do not even recognize. We have also spotted hummingbirds for the first time and of course our state bird, the Goldfinch. This is the first year we had bluebird houses at the Arboretum and a few were occupied by bluebirds this year. The solar powered well is working great (as long as the sun is out!!). Remember, this is something that had never been tried before and it has been a learning experience for all of us.

I know the overlook is quite a mess right now, with deconstructing and moving the Library shed. There is no longer a "museum" since all of our treasures were destroyed by the vandalism attack in the spring. In September we will begin our next building project which is planned to be a pavilion on the overlook. After some thought and discussion, helped along by the vandalism, we decided it is more practical and useful to build an open air pavilion rather than a closed meeting room. It will offer everyone a great place to sit in the shade and enjoy the meadow. It will also serve as the staging area for the children who take part in the planned "No Child Left Inside" programs. Ribbon cutting is scheduled for October 4.

You will see that we have replaced the stolen "Park Here" and "Nature Center" signs but not with replicas of the originals. We are certainly not going to keep hand making adorable signs for the community to enjoy only to have them stolen. It is a shame a few people ruin things for everyone. If you have our signs, please return them, they do not belong to you. If you see our signs, and you will know them as they are cut out suns with hand painted wording, please know that whoever has them stole them. Shame. I have tried to keep the place stocked with balls for your dogs and Frisbees for your kids but they are stolen as fast as I put them there also.

ATVís and off road vehicles are not permitted in the Arboretum or any of the surrounding area. I know there are people who think this is good clean fun with no harm done, but there is a lot of harm being done to the trail system by these vehicles, not to mention the peacefulness of the Nature Center (and neighborhood). Egg Harbor Township is one of the few communities that provides a safe, legal place to ride these vehicles at PALís Ready-To-Ride Program on Ridge Ave. Thank you for taking advantage of that program and not destroying our Nature Center.

The True Cost of that Green, Green Grass

What if I told you someone is exposing your children on a daily basis to chemicals and pesticides that may be harmful to their health? No doubt, you would be furious and demand they stop immediately. Well, if you use chemicals and pesticides around your home in an endless quest for that green, green grass, look in the mirror. And stop.

Among the most commonly used lawn and garden chemicals, 13 are probably carcinogens, 21 are nerve poisons and 14 have been linked to human birth defects, according to the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, an environmental organization. Past studies by the National Cancer Institute have found that children exposed to garden pesticides have an increased chance of developing leukemia. 90% of the 140,000 cases of chemical poisoning each year occur at home, and 50% of those were children under 6. Americans typically use 3 times the amount of pesticides in their yards as are used on farms. People have a tendency to overuse the product because no green is green enough.

If you think you would not be able to buy these chemicals if they were so dangerous, consider that many of the chemicals and pesticides that were routinely used in the 1950ís have since been banned. Expect to see many of the chemicals now sold over the counter to be banned as their long terms negative affects become better known. If the chemicals were not dangerous, why would landscapers have to mark treated lawns with those little flags? It is a warning. So take it!

How much is that green grass worth to you? If there is even a chance of compromising the health of your children, yourself or pets, why take it? The chemicals also pollute our groundwater and our rivers and streams when they run off your lawn. They promote the growth of algae and kill off many of the natural and beneficial plants and animals living in the woods and water. There are organic means of pest control and organic fertilizers readily available. If you use a landscaper, insist that they use environmental friendly organic fertilizers.

Another high cost of grass is the endless cycle of watering, cutting, watering, cutting. Lawn mowers add to both air and noise pollution. Water is a valuable resource which is becoming scarcer. Drawing too much from the underground aquifer permits salt water encroachment which then requires the use of expensive desalination techniques. Yet, every time it rains you will see automatic sprinkler systems spewing gallons of water which have nowhere to go but down the street, wasted in the storm water systems. A simple rain gauge would put an end to this waste and lower your water bill too. It is my hope that the Township Committee will make such a rain gauge mandatory.

The use of chemicals and pesticides and over watering of grass may seem like an individual decision but of course it is something that affects all of us. Health costs affect everyone. Water costs affect everyone. Noise pollution affects everyone.

You can also help by reducing the size of your lawn. Use trees, natural groundcovers and shrubs instead. Youíll save on air conditioning costs too. Chose the right plants and they will do well naturally without the need for pesticides. Stop cutting down your trees!! They are natural sponges which restore the groundwater.

Think about it. Green grass today, which truth be told, looks boring, or a healthy life and environment for your children tomorrow? Which is worth more to you?

Spring Is Here

April is the busiest month for members of the Environmental Commission. Spring in New Jersey means it is time to pay attention to our environment and its importance to our lives. We would like to offer a few ways for you to enjoy Spring this year.

Thursday, April 22 is Earth Day. Time to get outside and get involved! We will be celebrating Earth Day at the Egg Harbor Township Arboretum, 18 Schoolhouse Rd. At 12 noon we will have a ribbon cutting for the new shed that was built and donated by the students of Eagle Academy. They will honor their business partners who donated the materials for the shed. You can also get a "tour" of the Arboretum which should take about 10 minutes! Be sure to wear sturdy shoes.

Arbor Day is Friday April 30. In an effort to improve our Arbor Day program each year, this year we added a Poster Contest for the 3rd graders at Joyanne Miller School. The theme was "What Trees Mean to Me". Each participating class chose a Class Winning poster and those posters are on display at Town Hall now through April 28th. When you look at the posters you will see what perceptive and intelligent 3rd Graders we have!!

At the April 28th Township Committee meeting we will be announcing the first and second place overall winners. All of the Class Winners will receive certificates in appreciation of their participation in bringing attention to the importance of trees in EHT.

On Arbor Day the members of the Environmental Commission will conduct two programs for the 3rd Graders at Miller School and give seedlings to each student. That alone will return about 600 trees to Egg Harbor Township! You may wonder why we concentrate on the 3rd Grade. It is because when you have programs for the 3rd Grade you can get the seedlings from the State of NJ Forestry Center; they feel that this is the best age to teach the importance of trees to children.

Each year we plant a special Arbor Day Tree somewhere in EHT. This year, the 3rd Graders conducted a "Turn Your Pennies Into Leaves" drive to collect money for the Arbor Day 2004 Tree. Thanks to their generosity they will have a nice tree planted at the site of their proposed Butterfly Garden. The Arbor Day ceremony will be held at 11 AM at Miller School on Alder Ave.

As part of the Arbor Day Ceremony member Joan Welsh reads a poem about the beauty and importance of trees. This year we had to look no further than the posters created by our own children for a great Arbor Day poem. We all agreed this lovely little poem by Melissa Morillo says it all. I call it:

The Perfect Arbor Day Poem

Some trees make you sneeze

And its leaves swing in the breeze

It helps us to breath

And trees are big and it has a green wig

It has a brown dress and it looks like a mess

It has a big black belly in the middle of its chest

Most of all trees are helpful for people

Trees, Please!!

What a great Arbor Day celebration Egg Harbor Township had this year. We offered the 3rd graders of the new Joyanne D. Miller School a chance to donate the Arbor Day Tree 2004 to the Township. They eagerly participated in a "Turn Your Pennies Into Leaves" program and raised nearly $350.00 which we put to good use for their new butterfly garden at the school. The children not only purchased the Arbor Day Tree but a bird bath, a fancy bench and several appropriate plantings for the garden.

This year we decided to have a Poster Contest for the 3rd graders of the township with the theme of "What Trees Mean to Me". Township residents should be proud of how intelligent and creative their 3rd graders are. Because we have so many students (almost 600) in the 3rd grade, we had each class pick a "Class Winner" and then chose two winners from the 19 classes that participated. All 19 posters were displayed at Town Hall and all Class Winners got to attend a Township Committee meeting to receive a certificate, an oak seedling and be on EHT/TV.

Sarah Nicole Champion was the 1st place winner and received a savings bond donated by Joan and Joe Welsh plus a gift certificate to Blockbuster donated by Joe Lisa.

Rachel Taylor Simpson was 2nd place winner and received a gift certificate to Best Buy donated by Rich McGowan.

We did not plan on an Honorable Mention but received so many "mentions" at Town Hall of the poster created by Andrew Rivell that we just had to honor him for his poster showing a bulldozer tearing down all of the trees and one question we should all wonder about "how am I supposed to breath?"

Finally, we had our Arbor Day Assemblies at Miller School on April 30. It was a lot easier than in the past when we had to run from school to school for all the 3rd grades. "The Tree Guys" Dave Parker, Rick Yoos and Rich McGowan talked about trees and answered some good questions from the students. We distributed a seedling to each child, an evergreen obtained from the State Forestry Program. Hopefully all have found good homes and will grow to replace at least some of the trees we have lost in EHT. At the conclusion we introduced the children to their Arbor Day Tree, a great Kwanzan Cherry which we brought right into the gymnasium.

Many thanks to Marge Fopeano, principal and all of the teachers at Miller School. Sorry for the mess we left!! Thanks also to the Township Committee members who took the time to honor our winners and allow them to show off their posters despite a very busy schedule that night. And many, many thanks to the members of the Environmental Commission who are so generous with their time, money and expertise. Most of all, thanks to the students who made our Arbor Day so much fun and such a success. Take care of your trees!

The students of the Intermediate School have requested a chance to donate the Arbor Day Tree 2005. We have gratefully accepted. Save your pennies!

Tree of the Month: The Arbor Day Tree 2004 was a Kwanzan Cherry. This ornamental tree is an excellent choice for almost any yard. It grows to about 15-25 feet with upright branches. It bears an abundance of beautiful pink blossoms in the spring. This tree is widely available at nurseries.

Lemonade from Lemons

Visioning Team Update

The second public meeting of the Egg Harbor Township Livable Community Visioning Team will be held Tuesday May 16, 7 PM at the Intermediate School (Alder and Dogwood). The volunteers of the Visioning Team will be present along with the professional planners from Vollmer Associates and members of the School Board. I am so proud of the members of the Visioning Team and you should be too. It is no secret that Egg Harbor Township never wanted to be the highest of the High Growth Communities in the Pinelands. We were a small rural township much like Mullica and Buena Vista are now (thanks to their Low Growth status). We took care of ourselves. When something needed to be done, the community got together and did it. As a result you have a top notch volunteer Fire Department and one of the best recreational programs around. Fate, in the form of the government of New Jersey, handed us a lemon and we have still been able to turn it to lemonade. The Visioning Team members have put a lot of time, effort, ideas, and discussions into this process. We truly intend to keep EHT one of the best communities in this state.

On a related topic, it is easy to say "just stop development". Just about every single person in this township has been affected by development they did not want. But it is important to remember that there are Municipal Land Use Laws that must be followed by the Planning Board. Just as you want to make a profit from your property, others have the same right. So if you are protesting a development, whether in CAFRA or Pinelands, have facts on your side, rather than comments like "this will change the entire character of the area" (heh, that is what happened to our entire township!) or "birds and turtles live there" or "it will increase traffic" (it is a given that we are going to have traffic jams everywhere from now on). All of this is true but unless Threatened and Endangered Species are proven to be in the area, there is only so much even the Environmental Commission can do to protect something from development. If you know of Threatened and Endangered Species contact us right away.

Arbor Day

Congratulations to the winners of the Arbor Day Poster Contest from the Joyanne D. Miller School. What a difficult time choosing the winners! All of the Class Winner Posters were so great. Thanks to all of the 3rd graders who participated. And many thanks to those who donated the prizes, the EHT Environmental Commission, The Childrenís Museum(Shore Mall) and Lindy Hops Ice Cream (Genuardiís Plaza, Fire Rd). Please support the people who support your children.

First Prize: Justin Hlifka

Second Prize: Bryan String

Third Prize: Victoria McCulley

The Environmental Commission distributed nearly 600 seedlings to the 3rd graders at Miller School on Arbor Day, April 28. We then dedicated the Arbor Day 2006 Tree planted at Veteranís Memorial Park in honor of our service men and women. Environmental Commission member and patriot Joan Welsh wrote and delivered this beautiful poem:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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