Tag: access to nature

Lower Raritan Pathogen Results for 10.15.2020

The LRWP and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County monitor for Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus at six non-swimming public beach access sites along the Lower Raritan during the warmer summer months. Fecal Coliform and Enterococcus are indicators of disease-causing bacteria in our waterways.

The EPA recommends that a single Enterococcus sample be less than 110 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/100mL for primary contact. Enterococci levels are used as indicators of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria in recreational waters. Such pathogens may pose health risks to people fishing and swimming in a water body. Sources of bacteria include Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), improperly functioning wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff, leaking septic systems, animal carcasses, and runoff from manure storage areas. Enterococci levels are often high after heavy or consistent rainfall.

Below are our pathogens results for October 15, 2020.

Field notes for 10.15.2020

What a beautiful day for monitoring! Americorps Watershed Ambassador Caitlin DiCara helped us out with monitoring. We were also joined at our Piscataway and New Brunswick sites by our Windows of Understanding 2021 artist Marcia Shiffman. Marcia’s work for 2021 will focus on communicating the “hidden” social justice issue of inequitable access to nature.

Caitlin DiCara and Marcia Shiffman at our Riverside Park (Piscataway) site

We talked with Marcia and Caitlin about social barriers and physical obstacles to enjoyment of blue or green spaces or parks. In preparation for our listening session on Social Justice and Access to Nature, we identified a number of barriers to accessing nature. All of the below we observe as issues at non-bathing public access beach pathogens monitoring sites. These include:

-Difficulty in accessing green/blue or park space because of landscape design

-Difficulty in accessing green/blue or park space because of cost

-Not feeling welcome in a natural blue/green space or park because of economic status, or ethnic or cultural difference

-Cultural and/or language restriction present other barriers to enjoyment of time in natural spaces

-Bullying behaviors or material obstacles limit enjoyment of time in natural spaces for persons with disabilities

-Fear, anxiety, or feelings of helplessness in the face of crime limits time in natural spaces

What obstacles or barriers have we missed?

Our Thursday “regulars” fishing at the Edison Boat Launch
Not much tugging at these poles, Edison Boat Launch 10.15.2020

Listening Session: Social Justice and Access to Nature

In February 2021, the LRWP will join the New Brunswick Community Arts Council and others for “Windows of Understanding,” in which local non-profits partner with artists to transform main street spaces into “windows of understanding” art installments. Through these art installations the community can learn about social justice issues that don’t make daily headlines.

For 2021 the LRWP is thrilled to partner with Highland Park resident Marcia Shiffman. This year Marcia will help us communicate the “hidden” social justice issue of inequitable access to nature.

Please join us for a Webex listening session on Thursday October 15 from 5:30-6:30 pm to share your concerns, observations, and thoughts related to social justice and access to nature. Your participation will help us better understand the issues, and will help us in the work of communicating these issues through art.

This listening session is free, however pre-registration is required. You will receive a Webex registration link before the event start.

While the COVID-19 quarantine has encouraged people to get a healthy dose of the out-of-doors to breathe fresh air, strengthen immune systems, exercise, and destress, we know that accessing clean, safe, green and blue spaces is much harder for our low socio economic status urban communities. Residents from these communities often don’t have transportation or resources for a visit the Jersey shore or a hike in our state or national parks.

This social justice issue motivates the work of the LRWP in monitoring pathogens at non-swimming public access beaches along the Lower Raritan. We have chosen sites where our State and County Public Health Departments do not monitor water conditions, yet where our most vulnerable residents regularly fish, swim, and otherwise recreate in the water.

We will start the listening session with a brief overview of equitable access concerns in the Lower Raritan, including data from our Summer 2020 pathogens monitoring work.

Want to learn more about Social Justice and Access to Nature? The Children & Nature Network developed a brief literature review on “Equitable Access to Nature’s Benefits“.