People who start a new job during an extremely busy time are said to be “jumping into the fire.” But for Maria Berezin, Raritan Headwaters’ new water scientist, it was more like plunging into a fast-moving river.
Maria started in early June and immediately stepped in to help with the extensive preparations for our annual stream monitoring, in which more than 100 volunteer citizen scientists evaluate water quality in 60 local streams during a two-week period.
“It kind of forces you to learn everything right away,” said Maria. “It’s good, because I’ve been busy the whole time and I enjoy being in the field and protecting the water.”
Raritan Headwaters and our environmental colleagues have been working with our allies in the legislature for years to craft a law that would limit the scourge of plastic bags on our landscape and in our water by encouraging people to use reusable bags.
A bill recently passed by the New Jersey legislature (A3267), which puts a five-cent fee on each disposable bag given out by retailers, has many flaws.
If you’ve recently noticed people wading in local streams with long-handled nets, you might wonder if they’re fishing. They are, but not for fish!
From June 15-30, more than 100 citizen scientists trained by the nonprofit Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) will drag their nets in streams throughout the upper Raritan River watershed. Instead of catching fish, they’ll scoop up “benthic macroinvertebrates” – small bottom-dwelling creatures such as insects, snails, and worms that serve as an indicator of stream health.
If a wide variety and high number of pollution-sensitive “macros” are found, it means the water is clean. But if the sampling shows little diversity or only pollution-tolerant species, it’s a sign that the water is contaminated and needs attention.
28th annual Stream Cleanup draws 1,660 volunteers
What can 1,660 volunteers accomplish in just one morning? Cleaner, healthier streams within the upper Raritan River watershed – and less trash washing downstream to the Atlantic Ocean and posing a threat to marine life.
At our 28th annual Stream Cleanup on April 14, volunteers removed 13.3 tons of trash from 56 sites in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties, improving more than 76 miles of stream.
Love to ride your motorcycle along the picturesque country roads of the upper Raritan River watershed region?
If so, you’re invited to join the 15th “Ride for the River,” a motorcycle run on Saturday, June 9, to raise funds to support the conservation mission of Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
The 60-mile poker run takes bikers on a scenic tour of rural roads in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties, especially those that parallel or cross rivers and streams. The Ride for the River starts and ends at the Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton Township, and will be followed by a picnic lunch, music and bike show. Non-riders are welcome to attend the picnic.
Projects at Tewksbury preserve will earn them Eagle Scout rank
Our Fox Hill Preserve in Tewksbury Township is a more welcoming place for outdoor lovers, thanks to a pair of Eagle Scout projects recently completed by 17-year-old twins Henry and Stuart Fechhelm of Mendham.
Henry cleared, widened and marked existing trails at the 58-acre preserve, and gathered a team of volunteers to help him create new trails. He also used a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to document the exact locations of trails, which allows us to create an accurate new trail map.
Stuart created the Preserve’s first off-street gravel parking area, a project that involved clearing brush from the land, grading it to meet local construction code, securing donations of stone and landscape fabric, and arranging for volunteer labor and borrowed equipment.
Family fun in the morning, cocktails and history talk at night
Her name was Elizabeth Mead Merck, but everyone in the community knew her simply as “Betty.”
As a trustee and volunteer for Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA), Betty was among the first to roll up her sleeves and pitch in when there was work to be done. An avid horsewoman and environmentalist, she was generous in her support of RHA’s mission to protect clean water and the local countryside.
After Betty passed away in 2015 at the age of 95, her family honored her memory with a tribute gift to Raritan Headwaters. The donation has been used to make improvements to the brick cottage at the organization’s Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, which now houses RHA’s science and education departments and a new community meeting room.
Protecting watershed’s animals and plants helps water quality
Who should get credit for clean, pure water in our rivers, streams and underground aquifers? Much of the thanks should go to natural ecosystems, especially forests and wetlands that absorb and filter rainwater.
These forests and wetlands – as well as their native plants and animals – provide valuable “ecosystem services” in the upper Raritan River basin and beyond.
This spring, Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) will launch three long term initiatives to monitor and protect aquatic biodiversity: documenting vernal pools, surveying salamanders in local streams, and assessing connectivity of our streams and wetlands. All three initiatives were piloted last spring and summer.
This summer, 300 city children attending the Greater Newark LifeCamp in Pottersville will have the opportunity to discover and learn in nature’s outdoor classroom, thanks to a Bogs 2% for Outdoor Education Grant to Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
Raritan Headwaters, based in Bedminster, received $5,000 to support its environmental education program, which offers young campers from Newark hands-on lessons along the rural Lamington River. Now in its fifth year, the six-week program introduces children to natural ecosystems, watersheds, the water cycle and environmental stewardship.
Variety of environmental activities planned from April 12-28
Celebrate Earth Week with Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) this April by cleaning up local streams, planting trees, kayaking on the Raritan River, enjoying yoga outdoors, taking a guided bird walk and learning how to build a rain barrel for your home.
“Earth Week is more like Earth Month for us,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based watershed watchdog. “We have lots of great outdoor activities planned, and we invite local residents to join us.”