GSWA's Across the Watershed...In Brief
May 2014
We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.

--David Brower, American environmentalist, 1912-2000

GSWA Forms New Regional Alliance
Participants at the first meeting of the Great Swamp Upper Passaic Municipal Alliance, April 16, 2014.
Participants at the first meeting of the Great Swamp Upper Passaic Municipal Alliance: (l to r) Sally Rubin (Executive Director, GSWA); Debra Gottsleben (Alternate, Town of Morristown Planning Board); Hazel England (Director of Education & Outreach, GSWA); John J. DeLaney, Jr. (former Mayor, Town of Morristown, and Law Partner, Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper); Bill Leavens (Member, Washington Township Planning Board); Alison Deeb (Member, Town of Morristown Council). Credit: S. Reynolds/GSWA
On Wednesday, April 16, the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) convened the first meeting of a new municipal advisory group known as the Great Swamp Upper Passaic Municipal Alliance (GSUPMA). The Alliance provides a voluntary, no-cost way for municipalities located along the upper reaches of the Passaic River and around New Jersey's Great Swamp to coordinate efforts leading to local environmental, planning, and zoning improvements.

Representatives from ten New Jersey municipalities joined GSWA Executive Director Sally Rubin at the offices of The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown for a presentation by noted municipal planning consultant Frank Banisch. The subject of conversation for this first meeting focused on municipal land-use planning and the current demographic trends that are driving renewed interest in living in walkable, more-urban downtowns.

Topics for discussion at future meetings will include deer management policy and municipal options for reducing damage and speeding recovery from floods. Alliance organizers also anticipate developing conversations around other important local issues such as wastewater and stormwater management, open space management, and the development of green infrastructure and improvements in low-impact development strategies.

Want more information about the Municipal Alliance?

Click here to read our press releases featuring statements made by officials from several participating municipalities.

Or, click here to read our Municipal Alliance blog post.

Click here to watch a video of Frank Banisch's presentation, "Beyond 20th Century Paradigms...," on GSWA's YouTube channel.
Watershed Moments
Advocacy Update

GSWA's Executive Director Sally Rubin and other GSWA staff members attended two important public meetings last month.

EPA Cleanup Plan for the Lower Passaic River

GSWA Executive Director Sally Rubin (right) chats with U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell at a press conference announcing EPA Region 2's plan for cleaning up the Lower Passaic River. The event took place on April 11 along the Passaic River at Newark Riverfront Park. Credit: S. Reynolds/GSWA
GSWA Executive Director Sally Rubin (right) chats with U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell (left) at a press conference announcing EPA Region 2's plan for cleaning up the Lower Passaic River. The event took place on April 11 along the Passaic River at Newark Riverfront Park. Credit: S. Reynolds/GSWA.
On Friday, April 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2 (EPA Region 2) held a press conference announcing the release of the Agency's plan for cleaning up the lower eight miles of the Passaic River--from Belleville to Newark Bay. GSWA was there.

The much-anticipated plan--based on an extensive seven-year study-- proposes bank-to-bank dredging of 4.3 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxic substances.

For more information about EPA Region 2's clean-up strategy, click here. Or, read the relevant articles listed in the "In Case You Missed It" section below.

The EPA is accepting public comments on the plan until June 20, 2014. GSWA strongly encourages all who are interested to review the plan and submit comments.

Written comments may be sent to:
Alice Yeh, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10007-1866
e-mail: PassaicLower8MileComments.Region2@epa.gov

Alternatively, GSWA encourages you to sign and add commentary to NY/NJ Baykeeper's online petition supporting the EPA's cleanup plan. Click here to sign the Change.org petition right now,

EPA Region 2 will hold three public meetings to explain the cleanup proposal: on May 7 in Newark, on May 24 in Kearney, and on an unspecified day (to be announced) in June in Belleville. All with an interest are encouraged to attend. Click here for complete meeting information, including times and locations.

Community Rating System Workshop

On Thursday, April 24, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez convened a special workshop designed to help New Jersey municipalities navigate and participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Rating System (FEMA CRS). GSWA was there.

The CRS, which is part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), helps communities lower flood insurance rates for residents by encouraging the development of comprehensive flood prevention and recovery strategies.

GSWA will be encouraging and providing assistance to all area municipalities interested taking advantage of the CRS program. That assistance will be delivered through the organization's new Great Swamp Upper Passaic Municipal Alliance initiative (see above).

For more information about the CRS and how it might work to lower flood insurance rates in your community, please click here to read the article "Deciphering the National Flood Insurance Program," beginning on page 20 of the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of GSWA's Across the Watershed long-format newsletter.
Photo Album: Bayne Park Workday

GSWA volunteer Jeff Webb mulching at Bayne Park. 26 April 2014. Credit: L. Kelm/GSWA
GSWA volunteer Jeff Webb gathers mulch to spread around plants installed in the vegetated stormwater buffer around Harding Township's Bayne Park. 26 April 2014. Credit: L. Kelm/GSWA
Throughout the month of April, GSWA worked with the good people at Kemmerer Library Harding Township to present Treasures In Your Back Yard--a series of educational programs spotlighting local natural resources.

The capstone event of the series took place on Saturday, April 26, when a group of dedicated volunteers came together to help us complete some important environmental remediation work at Harding Township's Bayne Park.

From 9AM to noon, our workers repaired deer fencing, weeded out non-native invasive plants, mulched, and otherwise maintained the vegetated stormwater buffer GSWA installed around the pond in the fall of 2011.

Click here to view a photo album of our workday volunteers completing their tasks.

The Bayne Park buffer plantings are now ready to be turned over to the Township for future maintenance. Throughout the project, GSWA has worked with the Harding Citizens' Park Advisory Council to make sure the project has met the needs of the local community. GSWA also created and customized a one-of-a-kind maintenance manual to aid the Township as it takes over responsibility for maintaining the buffer. That manual contains the original design plans, a list of plants and their locations, care and upkeep instructions, and a complete identification guide for plants that were intentionally installed, as well as those that have entered the buffer on their own as "volunteers."

For more complete details of the work GSWA has undertaken at Bayne Park, read the article "Success at Bayne Park!" appearing on the cover of the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of GSWA's Across the Watershed long-format newsletter. Click here for an online version of the newsletter.
Don't Forget! Two Big GSWA Events Happen In May

Spring is a busy time of year here at the Great Swamp Watershed Association. We know! Sometimes it's hard to keep track of everything that's going on. That's why we publish our monthly schedule of events in the right column of this newsletter. Just in case you've overlooked those announcements, here are two events coming up in May that you will not want to miss.

The Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt, May 10

Pirate Flag Calling all would-be explorers, adventurers, and buccaneers! Think you know a thing or two about New Jersey's Great Swamp? Then it's time to test your powers of navigation and observation at the Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt! Join us starting 10AM at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge's Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center for a day of outdoor fun...Click here for complete event details.

Great Swamp Home & Garden Tour, May 28

istockphoto.com/dpproductions
Credit: istockphoto.com/dpproductions
Find inspiration for your spring planting and decorating at the Great Swamp Watershed Association's (GSWA) inaugural Home and Garden Tour. Join us at the Madison Public Library beginning at 10AM and spend a day visiting an assortment of eight magnificent properties located in and around the Great Swamp Watershed region...Click here for complete event details.

Other May Events

Also, don't forget about our May 20 Breakfast Briefing and our May 17 Invasive Plant Identification Hike!
In Case You Missed It...
New Alliance meets to discuss protecting Great Swamp

From Observer-Tribune: The local paper for Harding Township, the Mendhams, Chester, and several other municipalities reports on the first meeting of GSWA's Great Swamp Upper Passaic Municipal Alliance. Read the Article

$1.7 billion plan to clean up the Passaic River unveiled

From The Record via NorthJersey.com: Reporter Scott Fallon provides details about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new proposal for cleaning toxic sediment from the lower eight miles of the Passaic River. Read the Article

Change in NJ budget could divert environmental cleanup money to state's general fund

From AP via NJ.com: NJ's budget for fiscal year 2015 contains language that may be used to take millions of dollars away from Passaic River communities cleaning up dioxin pollution and place it into the state's general fund. Read the Article

More blackouts possible in New Jersey's future

From Courier-Post: Asbury Park Press Reporter Todd B. Bates files this story about the impact that more extreme weather events will have on NJ's power utilities. Read the Article
Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt to explore region's 'treasures'

From Madison Eagle: Help us get the word out! Repost this article about GSWA's May 10 Scavenger Hunt appearing in Madison's hometown paper. Read the Article
Tour will take in homes and gardens around the Great Swamp watershed

From Madison Eagle: Find out some more about GSWA's new Great Swamp Home & Garden Tour on May 28. Read the Article

Did You Know?
Trees Are Always On The Job Filtering the Earth's Water, but Where Are Their Cheerleaders?!
by Jim Northrop


Hybrid poplar trees. Credit: NREL.
Hybrid poplar trees (Genus: Populous) like those shown being farmed in this photograph are often used for phytoremediation. Phytoremediation addresses environmental issues through the use of plants capable of mitigating pollution without the need to excavate contaminated material. Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Treating water pollution may be one of the most critical services that trees offer to the world. In "The Man Who Planted Trees," a 2012 book written by Jim Robbins, the author looks at the relationship between New York City and the forests just to the north of the city in the Catskill Mountains. These rolling woodlands form a catchment and filter area for the water that New Yorkers drink. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered the city to build a new water treatment plant at a cost of $8 billion. Their concern was that microscopic intestinal parasites, and some other waterborne pathogens, would find their way into the New York City water supply.

However, city officials decided that the cheaper and better option was to protect the existing two-thousand-square-mile forested watershed that naturally filters water flowing into the city. That plan only cost about $1.5 billion, and the money was spent on such things as buying buffers of natural landscape around reservoirs to act as filters, and negotiating agreements with upstate cities and towns to limit development in watershed areas. While using woodlands to clean the water made economic sense on its own, maintaining tracts of native forest provided many additional ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat, recreation, and carbon dioxide absorption.

Deforestation anywhere can cause many problems for our water supply. Where freshwater once fell as rain (and was filtered by the forest and slowly released) there are now farm fields, lawns, and parking lots that pour polluted sediment into our streams and rivers. In fact, research shows that river basins with the greatest amount of...Continue Reading

Want to finish the story? Click here to find the rest of the article on our blog site.
In This Issue
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GSWA's
Upcoming Events
The Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt, May 10

10AM-5PM. Calling all would-be explorers, adventurers, and buccaneers! Think you know a thing or two about New Jersey's Great Swamp? Then it's time to test your powers of navigation and observation at the Great Swamp Scavenger Hunt!

We will provide you with a route to travel, questions to answer, and a list of treasures to find throughout the 55-square mile Great Swamp Watershed region. It's your job to navigate you own way, seek answers, and return with all your scavenged booty at the end of the day!

Free potluck picnic begins at 3PM.

Prizes will be awarded for successful scavenging.

And, don't forget about our special geocaching challenge courtesy of Northern New Jersey Cachers.

This event begins and ends at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge's Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center, 32 Pleasant Plains Road, Harding Twp., NJ.

Learn more here!
Close Encounters of the Leafy Kind: Invasive Plant ID Hike, May 16

6PM-7:30PM. Aliens are all around us. In fact, they might be taking over...seriously! When it comes to plants that are not from around these parts, NJ has more than its fair share. Can you tell the difference between a beneficial native plant and an alien invader? Few people can.

Join GSWA's Director of Education & Outreach Hazel England at our CMA property (1 Tiger Lily Lane, Harding Twp.) to learn how to identify and control non-native invasive plants commonly found in our part of the state. She'll also include a lesson on choosing attractive native plants for the home garden.

Learn more here!
Breakfast Briefing: What Can Wildlife Tell Us About Our Water?

8AM-9:30AM. Did you know that bugs, worms, mollusks, and other small, spineless creatures can tell us a lot about how clean our water is? Known as macroinvertebrates in scientific circles, the presence or absence of these little critters in our rivers, lakes, and streams serves as an indicator of local water quality and environmental health.

Dr. Lee Pollock, professor emeritus of Biology at Drew University, has studied populations of macroinvertebrates in New Jersey's Great Swamp region for many years. Join us to hear about findings from his 2013 study, and hear his perspective on the long-term environmental trends they reveal.

This event takes place at Kemmerer Library Harding Township (19 Blue Mill Road, New Vernon.

Learn more here!
Great Swamp Home & Garden Tour

10AM-3PM. Find inspiration for your spring planting and decorating at GSWA's first home and garden tour. Spend some time exploring eight magnificent properties located in and around the Great Swamp Watershed region. Some will feature impressive gardens, some will demonstrate how eco-friendly features can be integrated into a household, and some are just classically beautiful. We guarantee that you will have lots to see and experience!

All participants will begin the tour by checking in at the Madison Public Library (39 Keep Street, Madison, NJ) between 10AM and 1PM. Tour homes close at 3PM. Tickets: $50/person with advanced purchase; $60 per person at the door. Proceeds benefit the environmental stewardship, education, and advocacy work of the Great Swamp Watershed Association.

Learn more here!
Other
Upcoming Events
Mendhams Electronics Recycling Day, May 10

9AM-1PM. The Environmental Commissions of Mendham Borough and Mendham Township will hold a free electronics recycling event for residents at the Mendham Borough Public Works Building located at 37 Ironia Rd.

Learn more here!


GSWA Goes Social!
Follow GSWA on these social media sites for breaking news and special posts...

Twitter - twitter.com/GSWA
Facebook - facebook.com/GreatSwamp
Flickr - flickr.com/GSWA
YouTube - youtube.com/GreatSwampWatershed
MeetUp - meetup.com/Explore-NJs-Great-Swamp

Great Swamp Watershed Association
Protecting our waters and our land for more than 30 years
Street Address: 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, NJ  07960 - Map It!
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 300, New Vernon, NJ  07976
For more than 30 years, the Great Swamp Watershed Association has been dedicated to protecting and improving water resources New Jersey's Great Swamp Watershed region. We do this by monitoring and maintaining streams and open space, advocating for intelligent land use and environmental policy, and educating communities about water and its effect on the health and natural beauty of the local environment.

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.