Author: Heather Fenyk

GARDEN AND AFIELD 2016 – July 3 to July 9, 2016

Photos and Writing by Joseph Sapia
The gardening and yard references are to my house in the section of Monroe between Helmetta and Jamesburg in South Middlesex County. My yard is in a Pine Barrens outlier on the Inner Coastal Plain, the soil is loamy, on the boundary of Gardening Zones 6b and 7a.

tree + yard

Front yard

    EARLY MORNING HOURS IN THE GARDEN: On Wednesday, I got up around 5:20 a.m. for an early day at work and had the garden half-watered by 6 a.m. I watched the sky change color, listened to a crow, and watched a great blue heron fly by. Peace!


     HARVESTING LETTUCE: I dug out 2 heads of lettuce and brought them to work for distribution. Worried the lettuce would start bolting in the heat wave, I was looking to use it up. It turns out there was no need to worry. The lettuce is still producing well, despite the heat.

 

     LAST YEAR’S SUNFLOWERS: I had forgot I have last year’s sunflower crop hanging from the ceiling and drying in the garage. Well, I remembered and began spreading the seeds for the birds, squirrels, and any other wildlife that eats them.

 

     BEARS ON THE MOVE: Various roaming black bear reports have come in over the last week or so: in South Brunswick and Milltown, for example. Stay clear and all should be OK.

 

     FLOWERS IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN: Cantaloupes, peas, and cucumbers are flowering, the sweet corn is in tassel, and a white flower is blooming. As for white flower, I am unsure if it is growing on its own, part of the pollinator seeds I threw down, or something else.

cabbage white on cantaloupe

Cabbage White on Cantaloupe

  “KNOCK OUT” ROSES: The “Knock Outs” seem to be doing something different this year — peaking, but retaining blooms, rather than losing all blooms until the next peak.

knock out rose

Knock Out Rose

AROUND THE YARD: Stinkhorn mushrooms are popping up.

flies on stinkhorn mushroom

Flies on Stinkhorn Mushrooms

YARDWORK: Saturday’s thunderstorm forecast kept me from my planned trimming of the shrubs and hoeing the vegetable garden. The shrubs can wait, but I really need to attack the garden weeds on Sunday.

     QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Friend Jimmy Krygier, a 3rd generation nurseryman of the 100-year Krygier’s Nursery on Cranbury Road just outside Helmetta, noted the perkiness of the vegetation as we were driving a backroad after the recent rains and he said something to the effect of, “The vegetation is smiling because of the rain. Even the weeds.”

 

     DOWN THE SHORE: The clinging jellyfish, “Gonionemus vertens,” an invasive species indigenous to the Asian Pacific Ocean, has been found in the Shrewsbury River and Manasquan River recently. Their stings are very hurtful and could require hospitalization. They are not expected in Raritan Bay or in the Atlantic Ocean.

clinging jellyfish

Clinging jellyfish from the Shrewsbury River at Monmouth Beach

 

     SOMETHING TO WATCH FOR: In the local Pine Barrens, watch for the beginning of the “fall” foliage colors from around July 15 to July 30.

     Joe Sapia, 59, has lived his whole life in Monroe. He is, among other things, a Pine Barrens naturalist and a vegetable gardener. He gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish maternal grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his vegetable gardening. And he draws inspiration on the local Pine Barrens from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in the local Pines, and his grandmother.

NJDEP – Rescheduled Public Hearing FWPA Rules July 22

48 N.J.R. 1349(a)  

NEW JERSEY REGISTER
Copyright © 2016 by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law

VOLUME 48, ISSUE 13

ISSUE DATE: JULY 5, 2016

RULE PROPOSALS

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
LAND USE MANAGEMENT


48 N.J.R. 1349(a)

Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 7:7-6.4, 15.2 and 25.1; 7:7A-11.1; and 7:13-1.2, 6.7, 7.8 through 7.12, 7.29, 7.56, 7.58, 7.61, 8.5, 8.6, 8.8, 8.13, 9.5, 9.6, 9.8 through 9.10, 11.2, 12.5, 12.14, 13.1, 13.2, 13.6, 13.7, 13.8, 13.14 through 13.20, and 20.1

Proposed New Rule: N.J.A.C. 7:13-13.4

Click here to view Interested Persons Statement

Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules

Coastal Zone Management Rules

Notice of Rescheduling of Public Hearing

Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules

Take notice that the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is rescheduling the public hearing on proposed amendments and new rules in the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13, Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7, and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A, PRN 2016-084. The proposed amendments and new rule were published in the New Jersey Register on June 20, 2016 at 48 N.J.R. 1014(a). The Department has rescheduled the hearing date as indicated below.

A copy of the notice of proposal is available at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules and from LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register, www.lexisnexis.com/njoal.

A public hearing concerning the notice of proposal is scheduled as follows:

Friday, July 22, 2016, at 10:00 A.M.
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Public Hearing Room
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

Submit comments by August 19, 2016, electronically at http://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/comments. The Department of Environmental Protection (Department) encourages electronic submittal of comments. In the alternative, comments may be submitted on paper to:

Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 05-16-05
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L
[page=1350] 401 East State Street, 7th Floor
PO Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

A Tale of Two Rivers

In May, Alison M. Jones, Executive Director of our international partner organization No Water No Life, gave a talk in Tewksbury Twp. on the upstream-downstream issues of the Raritan Basin. Alison writes: “The audience was surprised – and then concerned – about the issues faced in the Lower Raritan and that some of the problems flowed down from the Upper Raritan.” After hearing Alison speak, one member of the audience was inspired to write an article for The Bernardsville News comparing the upstream-downstream disconnect in the Raritan Basin to the problems that led to Flint, Michigan’s drinking water debacle.

As in Michigan, in New Jersey we also face a state government willing to accept the public health risks of ignoring – and even compromising – necessary drinking water protections. The Christie administration has put new regulations into effect that will loosen the state’s clean water rules, opening up close to 400,000 acres of sensitive lands to development. While maintaining the integrity of upstream lands is clearly important for communities at higher elevations, the new regulations will have especially dire public health impacts on the state’s historically impaired and poorer downstream areas including the Lower Raritan and Raritan Bay. By opening up upstream lands to development, our downstream areas face compromised drinking water supplies, intensification of flooding, and increased water contamination associated with stormwater flows.

Senator Bob Smith, sponsor of Bill SCR66 that would invalidate Christie’s revisions to the Flood Hazard Control Act rules, has successfully pushed his bill through the Assembly and Senate Committees. There is significant support in the Senate for the bill, including from former Governor Tom Kean, the final hurdle is for Senate President Stephen Sweeney to post the bill to a vote in the full Senate today.

It is not news to our Lower Raritan communities that water, and all attendant pollution, runs downhill. The daily work in our downstream areas must address the clean-up of not only legacy industrial contamination but also non-point-source pollutants that are carried from upstream. The LRWP has been part of a statewide campaign to support Smith’s bill and to encourage Sweeney to post this bill for a vote in Senate, but successfully addressing historic and ongoing threats to the health of our downstream areas will require new and ongoing forms of regional cooperation. Clean drinking water and the health of our communities is at stake.

June 19-June 25: The Weekly Garden and Afield Report

Photos and Writing by Joseph Sapia

Sapia - 6.26.16 garden

GARDEN AND AFIELD

2016, June 19, Sunday, to 2016, June 25, Saturday

Sapia - 6.26.16 lettuce

Lettuce

              HARVESTING FROM THE GARDEN: I began picking lettuce, harvesting it leaf by leaf, rather than by the head, so the plant keeps producing. (In my haste, I pulled out too much leaf. So, next time, will clip them, saving the plant.) Then, I either munch on the leaf right there in the garden or take it inside for a sandwich.
Sapia - 6.26.16 blueberries

Wild blueberries

HARVESTING FROM THE LOCAL PINE BARRENS: Blueberries are ripening. I picked some the other day and mixed them into a cup of yogurt.

Sapia - 6.26.16 birdbath

Bird bath

             BIRD BATH: I keep a bird bath filled with water at ground level. Birds not only “bathe” in it, but birds and other animals drink from it.

              WILDLIFE IN THE YARD: The raccoons are still taking advantage of the sunflower kernels in the bird-feeder. And, one evening, I saw a huge skunk passing by.

Sapia - 6.26.16 mullein

Mullein in front of the American holly

WEEDS IN MY YARD: As I have mentioned, I leave many weeds growing to see what they develop into. Well, I have a huge mullein taking over my American holly in my backyard. In the front yard, I have pokeweed growing.

Sapia - 6.26.16 roses

“Knock Out” roses

               “KNOCK OUT” ROSES: Surprisingly, the first bloom of “Knock Out” roses continues.

Sapia - 6.26.16 fungi

Fungi in the backyard

               FUNGUS, IN YARD AND WOODS: Fungi growing in my backyard and some in the local Pine Barrens.

Sapia - 6.26.16 sassafras

Sassafras with its three styles of leaves

          SASSAFRAS IN THE LOCAL PINE BARRENS: Sassafras trees can have three leaf patterns on the same tree: a two-prong mitt, three-prong, and oval. I found an aberration this week, one with five prongs.

Sapia - 6.26.16 sunset

Helmetta Pond at sunset

      Joe Sapia has been a professional journalist since the 1970s. He also is a writing teacher, folk artist, vegetable gardener, Pine Barrens woodsman, Helmetta area historian, and Jeep driver, along with being Marquette University Jesuit-educated..

     Born in 1956, Joe is a lifelong resident of Central Jersey, where his family — through his maternal side, the old Polish and Slovak workers of the George W. Helme Snuff Mill in Helmetta — has lived since about 1900. He is a voice of the land and Old Jersey ways.

Flood Hazard Rules Public Hearing – Friday July 22, 2016

NJ DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
LAND USE MANAGEMENT

Notice of Rule Proposal
Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13
Coastal Zone Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7
Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A

PUBLIC NOTICE
Take notice that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Department) is proposing amendments and new rules in the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:13, Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7 and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7A. The proposed amendments and new rules fall into the following six categories: improvements to riparian zone protections; improving consistency of the FHACA Rules with the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and National Flood Insurance Program; improving consistency between the FHACA Rules and CZM Rules; facilitation of environmentally beneficial activities; clarification that permits-by-rule, general permits-by-certification, and general permits may not be used for activities qualifying as “major development;” and changes regarding the fees associated with the review of stormwater calculations.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated June 20, 2016. A copy of the proposal is available athttp://www.nj.gov/dep/rules/proposals/20160620a.pdf and from LexisNexis free public access to the New Jersey Register,www.lexisnexis.com/njoal.

A public hearing concerning the proposal is scheduled. The public hearing, as indicated in a notice of rescheduling of public hearing to be published in the July 5, 2016 New Jersey Register, is scheduled as follows:

Friday, July 22, 2016 at 10:00 A.M.
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Public Hearing Room
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625

If shadows and footprints were indelible

Article and photos by Joe Mish

Joe Mish - youth

Joe Mish - adult

If shadows and footprints were indelible and double exposures across time possible, you might be able to see Henry David Thoreau standing next to Joe on the shore of the Raritan River in New Jersey and the rocky streamside of the Kenduskeag in Maine. Each contemplating the wonder of nature where others might not see anything of value or beauty.

I always lived within sight of where the Raritan flows, the river being a reference point in my life. So embodied in my psyche is the river, that when at the recent 8th Sustainable Raritan River Conference at Rutgers, mention of the words, ‘Raritan River’ by one of the academic speakers felt as if it was me he was talking about. In reality the cumulative agenda was revealing the natural treasures hidden in plain view that I had discovered as a wayward youth and fondled as an adult through a newspaper column and photos.

The Raritan River basin drains about 1,100 square miles of New Jersey. The main Raritan River and bay is the summation of the North and South branches and their tributaries. I hunted ducks and trapped muskrats on the tidal creeks in season and for the rest of the year roamed the area exploring its history, geology, flora and fauna.

My interest in local nature only grew, as the gravitational pull of curiosity generated by this region’s unique natural diversity, drew me deeper into science and fostered an appreciation of its inherent beauty.

Years later I moved up river along the South Branch, fascinated by the thought of the river system as a watery highway. I paddled throughout the year and twice to Raritan Bay.

Eventually the South Branch became a training venue for the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Bangor Maine. Starting in January each year I would paddle an 11 mile stretch of river several times a week to get in shape for the 16.5 mile canoe race in Maine, which is held in mid April. I ran that race for 20 years, 18 straight years without interruption. Who knew this connection held a significant piece of a puzzle I didn’t know I was putting together.

At some point along the way, when doing research on the Raritan, I came across a history of Perth Amboy, a town located at the mouth of the Raritan River. Its list of astounding historic firsts also included a who’s who of famous visitors; Henry David Thoreau’s name was casually noted. That was very interesting, though just an isolated bit of information.

It was when I began to participate in the Maine canoe race that a coincidence hit me like a lightning bolt. Thoreau’s name came up again, this time linked to the Kenduskeag Stream and Bangor. The lights started to flash, Perth Amboy and Bangor, two river towns prominent in my life.

For those who don’t know, David Henry Thoreau, better known as Henry David Thoreau, or HDT, by his followers, is relevant today for his writings, diaries and environmental awareness. Among his best known works are ‘Walden’, ‘Civil Disobedience’, ‘Walking’ and ‘The Maine Woods’. An abolitionist and anarchist closely associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and a lesser known association with Marcus Spring and Eagleswood.

Eagleswood was a utopian society established in Perth Amboy and the focus of Thoreau’s month long visit to New Jersey in October through November 1856. The visit was facilitated by Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson Alcott. Thoreau was hired to lecture the Eagleswood society and do a land survey.

I began to research Thoreau, Eagleswood and the Bangor Connection as I seemed to be a kindred spirit of Thoreau, as assessed by some that know me.

If footprints and shadows were indelible, HDT and I would have been physically bumping into each other. I wasn’t following in Henry’s footsteps as much as I was crossing them.

There is a great article by, Wayne Dilts, a New Jersey resident and member of the Thoreau Society who describes Thoreau’s NJ visit. Wayne’s article is found in the Thoreau Reader and titled, “Thoreau’s New Jersey Connection”; http://thoreau.eserver.org/jersey.html

Reviewing other sources for Henry’s actual diary entries for October 25th through mid November 1856 I discovered Thoreau had wandered about 2 miles west of Eagleswood, which placed him directly in the wilds I once roamed.

“Nov 2nd – Took a walk 2 miles W of Eagleswood – the quercus palustris or pin oak, very common there…”

Thoreau goes on to describe the plants, soil and topography he observed. One entry that really hits home are his words; “I see apparently the sea side goldenrod lingering still by the Raritan River”

This entry stunned me.

Here was a revered philosopher and man of nature, who transcended Walden Pond and Massachusetts to be embraced by the world and relevant for more than a century and a half to the environmental movement, said the magic word, “Raritan River”. This was the first time I experienced what I described earlier at the Sustainable River Conference, an independent discovery of our natural treasures hidden in plain view. My secret world exposed a century and half ago and still viable today.

A further look into the Thoreau, Bangor and Kenduskeag connection, bought more surprises and mingling of footsteps and shadows.

Bangor was at the edge of civilization in Maine and served at the trailhead for Thoreau’s Maine Journey to Mount Katadin via the Penobscot River with his Indian guide, Joe. Thoreau was later to say Joe was one of just a couple of people he most admired.

Thoreau also had cousins in Maine who were friends of the Pratt family. One document I read, and cannot now find as a reference, mentioned Henry and his cousin being invited to dinner at the Pratts.

As it turns out, it was the Pratt family in Bangor who hosted me each April during the Kenduskeag stream canoe race. The connection between the Pratt families in Bangor, then and now, seems to have been lost, but the parallel experiences of two out of state visitors in Bangor are wild coincidence.

“…….the impetus for Thoreau’s interest in Bangor and the northern Maine woods were his cousins Rebecca Jane Billings and Mary Ann Thoreau Billings, and aunt Nancy (Thoreau) Billings, who lived in the Queen City.”

The shore along the lower Kenduskeag, where it empties into the Penobscot River in Bangor, also marks the finish line of the canoe race. Coincidentally there are two mandatory portages around the old flour mill dam and a natural ledge which forces racers to carry their boats along the same path Henry walked.

“During his travails to Bangor, Thoreau often hiked along the Kenduskeag Stream and noted the plant and flower life along its shores.”

http://bangorinfo.com/Focus/focus_kenduskeag_stream.html

Henry’s last word as he died on May 6th 1862 was ‘moose’. Coincidentally my last word as I left Maine, after an unsuccessful month long archery moose hunt, was ‘moose!’, followed closely by the guttural inflection, ‘grr’. I waited more than thirty years to get drawn in the Maine moose lottery and went home with a consolation prize of 15 pounds of moose meat from a sympathetic donor, knowing full well that was my last breath of a chance at a Maine moose.

As I was finally completing this article, which had been simmering for more than two years, a hummingbird, the first one I had seen this season, flew up to the window, where I sat and stared at me for several seconds before flying off. I took that as a sign Henry was nearby and impressed by the coincidence of our footsteps and shadows.

Author Joe Mish has been running wild in New Jersey since childhood when he found ways to escape his mother’s watchful eyes. He continues to trek the swamps, rivers and thickets seeking to share, with the residents and visitors, all of the state’s natural beauty hidden within full view. To read more of his writing and view more of his gorgeous photographs visit Winter Bear Rising, his wordpress blog. Joe’s series “Nature on the Raritan, Hidden in Plain View” runs monthly as part of the LRWP “Voices of the Watershed” series. Writing and photos used with permission from the author.

Acid Rich Soils in Englishtown, NJ

Check out these pics from June 16, 2016 water quality monitoring in the Englishtown area of the LRW. Waters were bright orange in color with very low pH (3.8):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Upstream was an eroding bank with charcoaled, black wood:

Englishtown - black wood, acidic soils 6.16.16

What’s going on here? This is an acid-producing deposit from the Englishtown Geologic Formation. According to Stephanie Murphy, Director of Rutgers Soil Testing lab: “When deposits are buried (not exposed) the mineral is iron sulfide and pH is not “unusual”. It can have black color. When exposed, the extreme acidity results from certain microbes oxidizing the sulfide to sulfate with H+ produced. Same process with acid coal-mining spoils. Acidity makes iron soluble, and when it re-deposits/precipitates, you get the orange hues.”

Also see the NJ Geological Survey’s Figure 1-1. NJ sedimentary units with potential to produce acid:

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/njgs/geodata/dgs09-2.htm

May 29-June 4: The Weekly Garden and Afield Report

Photos and article by Joseph Sapia

Afield observations made in the Pine Barrens around Helmetta in South Middlesex County. Garden observations made in my yard, just outside of Helmetta.

THE GARDEN. Planted vegetables, cantaloupe, and flowers, all from seed, May 21. Sweet corn, cucumbers, and sunflowers are sprouting well. The tomatoes are just peeking through the soil.

2016,%20June%204,%20Saturday,Holmdel%20Greek%20Fest%20058

GARDENING CHORES. Planted black-eyed Susan seeds, finished lawn-mowing, weeded the garden, been watering the garden.
WATERING THE GARDEN. I use no fertilizer and no chemicals — to me, things ruining the local Pine Barrens ecosystem and time bombs in the soil and groundwater. But I water, a soaking preferably before 10 a.m., so less loss of water to evaporation in the sun’s heat and allowing the vegetation to dry so as not to pick up fungal growth. If I miss the pre-10 a.m. watering, I will try to water with a sprinkling can, low to the ground, underneath the vegetation.

Sapia - watering cans

WATER CONSERVATION. Since taking over the family house in 2002, I have cut my water consumption in half for the most part. Some can be attributed to a needed bathroom remodeling (and a water-efficient toilet), but a lot is from simple conservation — do not run as much water, along with re-using gray water and rain water for watering plants. This week, for example, I watered the garden with a combination of house water and gray water, hoping to switch entirely to rain water and gray water.

MORE WATER CONSERVATION. Water from the cellar de-humidifier goes to the bird bath/watering trough. The trough, too, is recycled — a garbage can lid place on the ground, easy for birds to use, as well as squirrels and so on.

sapia - trash can lid feeder

RACCOON AT THE BIRD-FEEDER. My friend continues to visit the bird-feeder, helping itself to the sunflower kernels. I let it do it for a good part of the night, then I put the feeder in the garage for the overnight.

sapia - raccoon

WILDLIFE AND ME. Un-rhythmic chirping crickets in my cellar in the middle of the night bring out the serial killer in me — wait till later this summer when that starts up!. But, generally, wildlife is very welcome in my yard (if not my house). This week, though, a raccoon, which I normally get within 7 or so feet of as I let it raid my bird-feeder, would not leave my garage after I startled it and it hid behind tools and so on. I poked around with a stick and finally gave up, left the doors open, and curled up on the love seat in the house until I heard rattling, meaning the raccoon was in the garbage can holding the bird seed. So, I got up, and shooed it away. Earlier, while weeding, I saw a rabbit — whose kind let me get within 5 feet or so — eating my sunflower sprouts. The hand-weeder in my hand flew across the garden. Get it? The rabbit surely understood.
WILD ON MY SIDE. Neat on the street side and neighbor side. I let my hedges and shrubs have a wild or English garden look facing inward. But I try to keep it neat on the public and neighbors’s sides. And I keep a number of wild patches in my side and back yards, making the best out of unproductive lawn ecosystems (photo 9) (I am puzzled by parents that worry about school bus stops, un-shoveled snowy sidewalks, and overcrowded classrooms, but do not worry about the chemicals on their lawns. Time bombs, I say, time bombs!)

sapia - around the yard

AROUND THE YARD. The season’s first bloom of Knock Out roses is wilting. Fungi (photos 11 and 12), mullein, and pokeweed sprout freely. I let this stuff grow, interested in how it looks.

Sapia - wilting roses

— WHAT IS GOING ON? In recent weeks, I have seen a brown thrasher (first I have seen in around 15 years), then I heard a whip-poor-will calling at my house (the first in an estimated 6 years), and, this year, the northern gray treefrogs have been hollering. Is nature coming back to the local Pine Barrens? Is the natural world becoming so condensed that nature is retreating internally? Does it mean anything?
— AND MOUNTAIN LAUREL IS BLOOMING Meaning turtles are out laying eggs, so be careful while driving. (And be careful: Do not pick them up by their tails and WATCH OUT FOR THE SNAP OF A SNAPPING TURTLE.) For the more fainthearted naturalists, the mountain laurel blooming is sort of an alarm clock that the woods will heat up, get muggy, and pine flies will be swarming.

sapia - mountain laurel

— MY INSIDE GARDEN. The view from my desk.

sapia - view from inside

Copyright 2016 by Joseph Sapia

Joe is kicking off a new Facebook.com group, “The Jersey Midlands,” where this report is first published. To access The Jersey Midlands, go to the group and request access.

Joe Sapia, 59, is a vegetable gardener, who gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his vegetable gardening. And he draws inspiration on the local Pine Barrens from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in the local Pines, and his grandmother.

May 22-28: The Weekly Garden and Afield Report

Photos and text by Joseph Sapia

Garden and Afield in Helmetta-Monroe-Jamesburg, 2016, May 22, Sunday, to May 28, Saturday

From my yard in the Helmetta Road area of Monroe and the surrounding Pine Barrens

knock out roses

Knock-out roses

— “KNOCK OUT’ ROSES: The “Knock Out” roses are putting on a spectacular display, the best I recall since planting them in my yard in 2008.

— RACCOON/S AT THE BIRD-FEEDER: The battle continues between me and the raccoons at the bird-feeder. I have been putting the feeder in the garage at night, but the raccoon/s sometime beat me to the feeder.

raccoon at backyard feeder

Raccoon at my backyard birdfeeder

racoon in tree

— CANADA GEESE GOSLINGS: Adult Canada geese are out and about with their goslings. The adults are amazing parents — and humans can learn from them, (Photo 6, at Helmetta Pond.)

Canada Geese at Helmetta Pond

Canada Geese at Helmetta Pond

— NEW JERSEY STATE BIRD AT THE FEEDER: An Eastern goldfinch at one of my bird-feeders. Easily identified as a male because of the bright colors.

Eastern Goldfinch at feeder

Eastern Goldfinch, the New Jersey state bird

— NORTHERN GRAY TREEFROGS: These called strongly during the week. See http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/no_gray_frog.wav.

— GARDEN: I planted May 21 and a week later plants were sprouting, most noticeable the Mammoth Gray-Stripe sunflower. Although I do not use fertilizer or pesticides, I water regularly. Once the plants get going, I water before 10 a.m. so as not to lose water to evaporation as the day warms.

— BLACK BEAR MOVEMENT: Reports continue about black bear sightings in Central Jersey and across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. I am surprised there have not been more reports closer to home. If a bear is sighted, it is likely a 1-1/2-year-old male, perhaps 80 to 100 pounds, looking for its own turf. (What to do when encountering a bear, http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/bear/bearfacts_know.pdf.)

— YARDWORK: I trimmed the shrubs, then started cutting the grass. I have to finish the lawncutting today. I still have to plant black-eyed Susans.

— BLAST FROM THE PAST, CIRCA LATE 1960S: Paul Migut with an 8-horsepower roto-tiller at his Uncle Stanley “Pon” Ceslowski’s garden on Old Road at Helmetta Road, Monroe. Over the years, Pon, Paul and Jim Becker worked that huge garden.

Paul Migut at Pon's garden

Paul Migut, circa late 1960s, at Pon’s garden

close-up of knock out roses

More knock-out roses

Joe Sapia, 59, is a vegetable gardener, who gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his vegetable gardening. And he draws inspiration on the local Pine Barrens from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in the local Pines, and his grandmother.

LRWP response to Draft RP/EA for American Cyanamid Co. Superfund Site

The LRWP has submitted the following letter in response to NOAA’s Invitation to Public Comment on their “Restoration Plan/ Environmental Assessment Draft (RP/EA) for the American Cyanamid Co. Superfund Site, Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey”:

May 23, 2016

Carl Alderson
NOAA Restoration Center – Sandy Hook Office
JJ Howard National Marine Fisheries Science Center
74 Magruder Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732

RE: American Cyanamid Draft RP/EA

Dear Mr. Alderson –

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership has reviewed NOAA’s proposed Restoration Plan/ Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) for the American Cyanamid Co. Superfund Site, Bridgewater Township, Somerset County, New Jersey and fully supports the proposal for primary and compensatory restoration activities.

The LRWP is New Jersey’s newest watershed association, formed in 2014 to address legacy contamination and current pollution in the Raritan River and the Lower Raritan Watershed. Our mission is to conserve, enhance and restore the natural resources of the New Jersey Watershed Management Area 9, the Lower Raritan Watershed. We believe that not only will removal of the Weston Mill Dam on the Millstone River directly improve resources impacted by legacy contamination, it is our understanding that the proposed project will benefit a broad spectrum of the Raritan River’s ecology and will likewise enable other environmental and human use benefits. Significant ecological, environmental and human use benefits have in fact already been realized following recent removal of a series of dams (Robert Street, Nevius Street and Calco) on the lower portion of the Raritan River between the towns of Bridgewater and Bound Brook. Likewise, we expect that design of technical fish passage at the Island Farm Weir (located on the Raritan River) will advance multiple Lower Raritan Watershed stakeholder goals.

The LRWP is also aware that the removal of the Weston Mill Dam on the Millstone River, as well as future modifications at the Island Farm Weir to include a technical fish passage at the Island Farm Weir on the Raritan River, will expand access to several thousand acres of non-tidal freshwater mid to upper reaches of the Raritan River’s major tributaries. Removal of Weston Mill Dam and the construction of a technical fish passage at Island Farm Weir will significantly enhance maturation and rearing habitat for striped bass, American shad, American eel, blueback herring, and alewife, and should significantly increase the abundance of anadromous and catadromous species, which will improve the ecological health of the Raritan River.

The LRWP’s only concerns with NOAA’s proposal are short term sediment transport impacts following dam removal. However, we are confident that NOAA’s plan to reduce potential environmental consequences is sound and further expect that the proposed projects will provide long term restorative benefits to water chemistry, specifically decreased water temperatures in formerly impounded sections, and increased dissolved oxygen concentrations. These changes will benefit riverine biota from the most basic food chain level up to the top predators for many years to come.

Enhancing fish populations in the Raritan River system is important for fresh and marine ecosystems. It is especially appropriate as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) lists the estuarine portion of the Raritan River as an important migratory pathway for anadromous alewife and blueback herring, species which NOAA lists as of special concern. The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership feels that the proposed projects could help to reverse declining population trends, and anadromous fish returning to spawn each spring in the Raritan River provide an attraction to the general public in the Raritan River Basin. The removal of the Weston Mill Dam on the Millstone River and feasibility analysis and design of technical fish passage at the Island Farm Weir are important to the LRWP and we fully support the proposed projects.

Sincerely,

Heather Fenyk, Ph.D., AICP/PP
President, Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership
www.lowerraritanwatershed.org

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Interior, and the State of New Jersey invite public comment on a proposed plan.
The Draft RP/EA is available at the following website:

http://darrp.noaa.gov/hazardous-waste/american-cyanamid

The public comment period on this plan ends June 10, 2016.

To request further information or an additional hard copy of this document or to submit your comments, please contact Carl Alderson at (732)371-0848, NOAA Restoration Center – Sandy Hook Office, JJ Howard National Marine Fisheries Science Center, 74 Magruder Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732 or by email at Carl.Alderson@noaa.gov. Please put “American Cyanamid Draft RP/EA” in the subject line.

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