“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.”-G.M. Trevelyan
The silver lining in COVID-19-related time off from work and school? More hours to get outside.
Time out-of-doors yields illness-fighting benefits (a few are listed below). Check out the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership’s map of open space in the Lower Raritan or find a park map for your area, lace up your shoes, and head outdoors. Getting outside may be just what the doctor ordered.
1. Breathe fresh air. Although the viruses that cause flu and colds are more common in the winter months, the circulated air in closed environments is the main cause of illness. Windows are closed, germs are recycled through air vents, and the general tendency in cooler months is to stay indoors. The thing is, the more time spent inside, the more you risk exposure. In fresh outdoor air the chance for spreading infection is reduced.
2. Strengthen the immune system. Time outside gives you an escape from indoor germs and bacteria. Increased time outside is associated with stronger autoimmune systems, and a resistance to allergies. Studies have shown that children in rural areas, or who are active outside, have the best overall health.
3. Engage in physical exercise. Time outside is associated with greater physical activity, and physical activity gives your immune system a power surge for a full 24 hours. A stronger immune system leads to less illness and less use of antibiotics.
4. Shift your perspective. Time outside can be a welcome break from the technology-focus of our 21st century lives. Get out for a wildlife hike and watch the birds and other critters – many of them are in full throttle nest building this time of the year. Taking a break out-of-doors, connecting with local ecology, is great for your mental health!
The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County seek civic science volunteers to assist with the Summer 2019 “Citizen Science Monitoring for Pathogens Indicators on the Raritan River.” This program will run every Thursday from mid-May to the end of September. Volunteers will travel with a monitoring team to capture water quality samples at sites along the Raritan River, followed by a trip to the IEC lab in Staten Island to assist with preparation of samples for analysis. A 2 hour training is required, after which the Project Team would like volunteers to commit to assisting with at least five (5) sampling events throughout Summer 2020.
This project will allow us to gather data and other information on water quality for six public access sites along the tidal portions of the Raritan River at locations considered non-bathing beaches. In addition to capturing water samples at each of the six public access sites, volunteers will have the opportunity to go to the IEC lab on Staten Island to learn how samples are processed for monitoring.
We will monitor non-bathing beach sites with active kayak/canoe launches and/or fishing and other primary contact activities that are not regularly monitored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection or the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services and lack sufficient water quality data.
Bacteria data will be reported in “real-time” on Friday afternoons to allow Lower Raritan residents and others to make informed decisions about their on-water recreation activities for the weekend.
The Project will also allow for development of civic science and expanded volunteer environmental monitoring programming within the Lower Raritan Watershed and Middlesex County, NJ. Working with an approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) will allow for data generated from this project to inform water quality policy and regulatory decisions at all levels of government (state, federal, local) within the project area, and to educate the public.
Water quality monitoring sampling will directly inform public access decision-making for six (6) diverse Lower Raritan Watershed municipalities (see site map below). These sites include:
Riverside Park (Piscataway)
Rutgers Boathouse at Boyd Park (New Brunswick)
Edison Basin Boat Launch (Edison Township)
Ken Buchanan Riverfront Park (Sayreville)
Raritan Bay Waterfront Park (South Amboy)
2nd Street / Brighton Avenue Beach (Perth Amboy)
Sites were chosen to inform decision-making about access and use, to aid understanding of municipal stormwater and sewage flows, and to inform current and future landuse planning and restoration efforts. Sites include the following known activities: 1) launch sites for personal non-motorized watercraft (sites 1-5); 2) fishing (sites 2-6); 3) birding hotspots (site 5); 4) crabbing (sites 2,4,5,6); 5) proximate to Combined Sewer Overflow (site 6); 6) unofficial bathing activity (sites 2,5,6); 7) collegiate watersport competition (site 2).
Generous support for equipment and data analysis is provided by the Interstate Environmental Commission.