Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Habitat Restoration’ Category

Ghost Fishing

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

How CWF Is Fighting This Threat to Wildlife in Barnegat Bay

by Emily Heiser, Wildlife Biologist

 

For many coastal communities in New Jersey, like the Barnegat Bay region, winter is a time for rejuvenation and the preparation of our resources for a busy summer season.  It only makes sense that we also start to prepare the coast’s most precious resource – the bay.  

 

Barnegat Bay is approximately 42 miles of brackish marsh and bay bordering Ocean County.  The bay and surrounding marshlands are rich in vital resources that directly and indirectly support over 60,000 jobs and have an economic value of $2 to $4 billion dollars annually (Barnegat Bay Partnership Economic Report 2012).   

 

Pots are often heavily encrusted with organisms and can contain several different species of bycatch. @ John Wenk

Part of that economic value is attributed to the tremendous blue claw crab fishery in the bay.  The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife estimates that commercial and recreational crabbers harvest around 6 million crabs per year from New Jersey waters.  Barnegat Bay, along with Little Egg Harbor and the Maurice River estuary comprise approximately 65-86% of the recreational harvest that occurs annually.  Recreational crabbers use a variety of methods, but typically rely on baited pots or hand lines for crabbing.  Regulations exist for the use of pots, but their unintentional loss has created an economic and environmental problem for all portions of Barnegat Bay.

 

CWF, along with our partners, has been diligently organizing and executing what is essentially a cleanup of these pots within Barnegat Bay.  In 2015 and 2017, CWF was granted a NOAA Marine Debris Removal Program grant to support the removal of derelict crab pots, also know as ghost pots, from Barnegat Bay.  Over the course of the last three years, we have removed over 1,300 crab pots that have become a death trap for a variety of marine organisms, including diamondback terrapins and otherwise fishable blue crabs.  

 

Students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science assist in assessing pots after they’ve been pulled from the bay. @John Wenk

All of the fieldwork on this project occurs during the chilling winter months when only the hardiest of fishermen can be found on the water.   The blue crab season is open in most parts of the state from March 15th – November 30th leaving the coldest months to head out and collect pots that are not supposed to be actively fishing.  Several partners have made this project a possibility – the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Stockton University, Monmouth University, ReClam the Bay, American Littoral Society, and through contracts with local fishermen.  

 

Using side-scan sonar units, crews head out in early December to start looking for ghost pots.  Once a sufficient number of pots have been marked, waypoints are transferred over to retrieval crews.  Retrieving the pots sounds easy in theory, but can be time-consuming and success is dependent on many compounding factors such as substrate, weather, and tidal conditions.  Upon relocation of a surveyed pot, the captain must line the boat up to the best of their ability and with as much accuracy as they can, instructs the crew where to throw the grapple line.  Often you hear them call out, “Five feet – left center” and amazingly, the crew throws the grapple and hooks into a pot!  Depending on the substrate and how long the pot has been on the bay floor, it can be very difficult and dangerous to leverage out.  With the use of just the right amount of engine power, sunken pots can be delicately coaxed out of the water and lifted onto the boat by crews.  Once a pot is on the boat, a rapid assessment is done to look for unintended bycatch, pot design, and encrusting organisms.  Some of the various bycatch that has been found in pots include several species of crabs, lobster, flounder, tautog, and sadly, several diamondback terrapins.  One pot contained the remains of more than 17 diamondback terrapins.  

 

Ghost pots are disposed of by NFWF and Covanta’s Fishing for Energy Program where they will be recycled and turned into energy. @John Wenk

After a day of retrievals, the crew heads back to the marina where pots are placed in a disposal bin.  The bins are provided to the project through the successful Fishing for Energy Program run by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy, and Schnitzer Steel.  Gear collected from our port is stripped for recyclable materials at Schnitzer Steel and then non-recyclable material is turned into energy at Covanta’s facility in Rahway, New Jersey.  The holistic nature of this project breathes life into the term, “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

 

Barnegat Bay’s ghost pots exemplify an overarching issue of our environment, human-wildlife conflicts.  The Bay’s vital resources drive the economy and addressing these issues make us better stewards of the Bay and its resources.

Grassland Birds of New Jersey

Thursday, December 28th, 2017
Part II: Restoring Critical Breeding Habitat

by Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

In Part I of this series, I discussed the drastic loss of grasslands in New Jersey and the importance of preserving and restoring this disappearing habitat for grassland-dependent bird species.  Due to this habitat loss, in much of the northeastern United States (including New Jersey) airports have become significant breeding grounds for many threatened and endangered grassland birds.  In fact, airports are often the only suitable habitat available for New Jersey’s rarest grassland bird, the upland sandpiper.  If these large expanses of open fields are managed properly, they can support nesting birds while still remaining safe for aircraft operation.  This is the goal of CWF’s new restoration project at one of the most critical breeding sites in New Jersey.

Restoration site at Lakehurst breeding grounds, December 2017. Photo by Meghan Kolk.

The Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) in central New Jersey hosts the largest known breeding colony of the endangered upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), and the second-largest known breeding colony of the threatened grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) in the State.  The bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris) (all threatened) and eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna) (special concern) all make a home here as well during the nesting season.  CWF has  partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore hundreds of acres of this vital land to increase suitability and to alter management practices to benefit both wildlife and airfield operations. (more…)

CWF Honors Four Inspiring Leaders at 12th Annual Women & Wildlife Awards

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Former Gov. Kean delivers stirring keynote speech before 200 people at Duke Farms event

 

Kelly Mooij, Jeannie Geremia, CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, Hazel England, Amy S. Greene, Honorable Kip Bateman, and Honorable Tom Kean.

Hillsborough, NJ – The nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) celebrated their 12th annual Women & Wildlife Awards on November 1 before over 200 people at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

 

The 2017 honorees include Hazel England of the Great Swamp Watershed Association, Jeannie Geremia of the Garden Club of New Jersey, Kelly Mooij of New Jersey Audubon, and Kris Schantz of the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

 

CWF Development Director Liz Silvernail, The Honorable Tom Kean, Yasmine Pessar from Dewberry, and Betty Ann Kelly from Union County Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

 

“Tonight we are recognizing four great women who have accomplished wonderful things and who have worked in their own way to make this world and this state a better place,” said former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean in his keynote speech. “They have worked to do what is necessary to make sure that when we pass this planet down to our children and our grandchildren, it is not worse than what we received. These four women show us what great things an individual can do for all of us.”

 

 

Since 2006, CWF’s Women & Wildlife Awards have recognized special individuals for their achievements on behalf of New Jersey’s wildlife and the advances they have made in professions in which women have long been underrepresented.

 

“All too often, young girls are turned away from promising careers in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “Yet here in New Jersey, wildlife conservation efforts benefit from a strong and inspiring core of female scientists, educators, advocates, researchers, and rehabilitators who serve as role models for the next generation. Thanks to our Women & Wildlife honorees, today’s young girls can feel confident in pursuing science and conservation as careers with limitless and exciting possibilities.”

 

Hazel England, Great Swamp Watershed Association Director of Outreach and Education, was honored for bringing environmental education programs about our local ecosystems and habitats to students and teachers of all ages.

 

“I am honored to have received the Educator Women & Wildlife Award from Conserve Wildlife Foundation. It was truly humbling to be in the company of such inspirational women who are working in the field of conservation,” said England. “I’m thrilled that my two daughters got to experience this event with me; learning about the great work these other remarkable women are doing, and gaining some very direct political insight from Governor Tom Kean. It was a real privilege to hear him speak and a highlight of the night for me.”

 

Jeannie Geremia, Great Swamp Watershed Association Director of Outreach and Education, was honored for bringing environmental education programs about our local ecosystems and habitats to students and teachers of all ages.

Service honoree Jeannie Geremia with friends and family.

“Receiving the Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Women in Wildlife 2017 Award for Service is one of the highlights of my life and I am humbled by the august company of outstanding women who were similarly honored,” said Geremia. “Nature is our passion and working to ensure that our imperiled wildlife species, including our pollinators, survive and thrive is the common goal.  Joining dedicated individuals and organizations in a united effort of educating and inspiring people to action will accomplish these mutual goals of a healthy environment for all living creatures.  Governor Kean said it all so eloquently as he invoked the spirits of Rachel Carson and Helen Fenske in his heartfelt keynote speech, setting the tone for this memorable event.”

 

State Senator Kip Bateman presented Jeannie Geremia with her award.

 

“Jeannie, you really have dedicated your life to making a difference, and it’s so important what you’ve done,” said Senator Bateman. “It’s a real pleasure to be here to honor four outstanding women who have truly made a difference in New Jersey. Each of you is so deserving of this award.”

 

Kelly Mooij, New Jersey Audubon Vice President of Government Relations, was honored for her strong leadership on a number of successful watershed protection, open space preservation, and wildlife funding campaigns.

 

“I’m honored to have received this recognition from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, a wonderful partner in protecting our amazing wildlife throughout the State,” said Mooij. “Educating decision-makers and supporting science-based policy is one of the most effective and efficient ways to protect wildlife and preserve habitat and I’ve been so fortunate in my career to be able to work with amazing non-profit colleagues and to use the powerful tool of advocacy to make NJ a better place for people and wildlife.”

 

Kris Schantz, principal zoologist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, was honored for her work protecting the endangered timber rattlesnake and other at-risk reptiles.

Inspiration honoree Kris Schantz with NJDEP supporters with CWF Executive Director David Wheeler.

 

“I am truly honored to have received this award from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, as there are so many deserving women doing invaluable conservation work within New Jersey,” said Schantz. “We must all – women, men, children – continue to strive to make NJ a better place for our citizens and future generations through the protection and nurturing of our natural resources.”

 

 

 

 

 

Event sponsors included PSE&G, Eric Sambol, The Danberry and DeLucia Family, Dr. Barbara Brummer, Dewberry, James Fiorentino, Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants, Inc.,  Lackland Associates, Inc., Merrill G. & Emita E. Hastings Foundation, Dr. Kumar Patel.

 

Patrons included Bountiful Gardens, Bob and Maureen Coleman, Glenn Insurance, Inc., Elwood and Ruth Kerkeslager, Mercer County Wildlife Center, New Jersey Audubon, Renzi Bernardi Suarez & Co., Rick Weiman, Your Part-Time Controlled, and Zoological Society of New Jersey.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation staff with former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the 2017 Women & Wildlife Awards, please visit www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org/getinvolved/event/women/.

To learn more about CWF, please visit www.ConserveWildlifeNJ.org.

 

 

The short biographies for the honorees follow:

 

HAZEL ENGLAND: EDUCATION

Hazel England has spent 24 years as an enthusiastic environmental educator and naturalist in New Jersey, bringing education programs about our local ecosystems and habitats to students and teachers of all ages. Since 2004, Ms. England has led educational and stewardship programs at the Great Swamp Watershed Association as the Director of Outreach and Education. She is a state-certified facilitator for many nationally acclaimed environmental education curriculums, including Project WILD, WET, WOW, PLT HWHP, and Bridges to the Natural World.

Ms. England has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Botany from the University of Dundee, as well as a Master’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Management from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She sets an excellent model for other women to follow by being an accomplished natural scientist who brings her passion to life for people of all ages.

 

JEANNIE GEREMIA: SERVICE

For the past decade as the Vice President for the Garden Club of New Jersey, Jeannie Geremia has followed her passion for protecting pollinators by leading, inspiring, and educating others on the importance of pollination and wildlife habitat gardens. Ms. Geremia championed the designation of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly as the New Jersey State Butterfly. Her action earned her recognition from both the New Jersey Senate and the General Assembly.

Ms. Geremia created attractive Pollinator Education Signs that are displayed statewide at local plant nurseries, horticulture garden visitor centers, and a variety of education centers. She has also created and presented over 75 Pollinator Education programs, and has written 89 articles – and counting – for Gardener News on wildlife preservation, conservation, and growing our decimated pollinator population.

 

KELLY MOOIJ: LEADERSHIP

Since 2008, Kelly Mooij has dedicated herself to utilizing the tools of law, policy, and government affairs to protect our state’s wildlife as Vice President of Government Relations at the NJ Audubon.

Ms. Mooij helped lead the formation of the multi-state Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed to protect the watershed that provides drinking water for 16 million people and support hundreds of miles of vital fish and wildlife habitat. In coordinating the Keep It Green Coalition for open space preservation, Ms. Mooij helped lead the passage of two state-wide bond measures totaling $600 million dollars. The 2014 permanent source of open space funding will bring $1 billion to the state every ten years.

Ms. Mooij also leads the annual lobbying efforts of New Jersey’s environmental organizations for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, which provide an average of $1 million dollars in federal grant funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. Ms. Mooij earned her Juris Doctorate and Master of Studies in Environmental Law, focusing on marine biodiversity and land and water use issues.

 

KRIS SCHANTZ: INSPIRATION

Kris Schantz works with one of New Jersey’s most underappreciated and persecuted species: the timber rattlesnake. Ms. Schantz developed the Venomous Snake Response team of volunteers and professionals in law enforcement, animal control, and parks management who safely remove venomous snakes from areas where they pose a risk – while also protecting these endangered reptiles.

Her field studies have expanded to include other vulnerable snake species, such as the corn snake, northern pine snake, and scarlet snake. Ms. Schantz has also led the development of the department’s Wildlife Action Plan, transforming and bettering the wildlife conservation agency’s work. She earned her Masters of Science degree from Rutgers University. Ms. Schantz has gained the deep respect of the nearly everyone who works with imperiled snakes in New Jersey, and she serves as an example of passion, enthusiasm, and commitment in her field.

NEW JERSEY AUDUBON’S KELLY MOOIJ HONORED FOR LEADERSHIP IN CONSERVATION

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

By Mara Cige

Kelly Mooij, 2017 Leadership Award Honoree

As Vice President of Government Relations for New Jersey Audubon, 2017 Women & Wildlife Leadership Award Honoree Kelly Mooij works to promote and secure a legal and regulatory framework that supports habitat conservation, open space preservation, and species protection and recovery in New Jersey. She has dedicated her time and efforts in utilizing the tools of law, policy, and government affairs to protect our state’s wildlife.

Ms. Mooij earned her Juris Doctorate and Master of Studies in Environmental Law, focusing on marine biodiversity and land and water use issues, and has worked for New Jersey Audubon since 2008. Her efforts often center on bringing interested parties together to support efforts to protect the region’s wildlife. In 2012, Ms. Mooij helped lead the formation of the multi-state Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. This coalition seeks to protect the watershed that provides drinking water for 16 million people, supports hundreds of miles of vital habitat for fish and wildlife, and is critical to the economic well-being of the mid-Atlantic region. (more…)

GREAT SWAMP WATERSHED ASSOCIATION DIRECTOR HAZEL ENGLAND HONORED FOR EDUCATION EFFORTS

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Hazel England, 2017 Education Award Honoree

As Director of Education & Outreach for Great Swamp Watershed Association, 2017 Women & Wildlife Education Award Honoree Hazel England has spent 24 years as an enthusiastic environmental educator and naturalist in New Jersey, bringing education programs to students and teachers of all ages about our local ecosystems and habitats. Her work focuses on providing powerful learning experiences for educators, encouraging youths to explore and understand New Jersey’s incredible biodiversity, and partnering with agencies to open up more environmental opportunities for students of all ages.

Since 2004, Ms. England has dedicated herself to developing, coordinating, and implementing a wide variety of educational and stewardship programs and activities at the Great Swamp Watershed Association as the Director of Outreach and Education. She currently focuses on creating programs about water quality and conservation, ranging from curriculum development, to watershed-wide issues, to local resident workshops. (more…)

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