ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER OPENS
“THE GREAT SWAMP EXPERIENCE” PERMANENT EXHIBIT
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center officially opened "The Great Swamp Experience" at a ribbon cutting attended by Commissioners and staff on February 16, 2017.
Located downstairs at the EEC, 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, “The Great Swamp Experience” features interactive displays, vignettes, taxidermy, and archeological artifacts highlighting the history and ecology of the Great Swamp.
Open to the public 7 days a week from 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., visiting children can crawl into a beaver lodge, feel animal fur, or explore the toddler area. For adults, habitat vignettes share educational content of the flora and fauna found in the swamp’s river, meadows, ponds, marshes, and forests. Historical exhibits include information about the Wisconsin Glacier, mastodon bones, Paleo-Indians, and Lord Stirling. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about hydrology, sustainability, and the park’s geographic location.
Somerset County Open Space Purchase
Will Enhance Environmental Center Trail System
Somerset County Freeholder Director Pat Walsh and Freeholder Mark Caliguire, center, were joined by Parks Director Ray Brown, county Principal Planner Tom Boccino, Park Commissioner Bill Crosby, Bernards Mayor Carol Bianchi, parks staff and property owner Tracey Ord at the announcement of the Ord property acquisition adjacent to the Environmental Education Center on Lord Stirling Road.
Somerset County Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh has announced the purchase of property that will link with existing county and municipal open space parcels along the Passaic River.
The Freeholders approved the purchase of the 37.69-acre property at their Oct. 11 meeting. Freeholder Director Walsh was joined by Freeholder and Open Space Liaison Mark Caliguire, Bernards Township Mayor Carol Bianchi, Park Commissioner Bill Crosby and Park Commission staff at the Somerset County Environmental Education Center on Oct. 13 to announce the acquisition.
The property, owned by the Ord family, is adjacent to the Great Swamp and the county-owned Lord Stirling Park and directly across Lord Stirling Road from the county Park Commission’s Environmental Education Center.
“Its location makes it a perfect fit that will enable the EEC to expand one of its nature trails that is used for school programs and small-child exploratory hikes,” Freeholder Director Walsh said, adding that the asking price of $389,000 is “a very good value at just over $10,000 per acre.”
The rear of the property is wooded with 1,800 linear feet of Passaic River frontage. The acquisition will link county and municipal open space parcels along the river, advancing the cooperative county/municipal preservation initiative along the Passaic River Greenway. The acquisition protects and provides public access to river frontage for hiking and fishing, in addition to expanding the EEC’s existing environmental activities on the adjacent property.
The purchase brings the county’s total of preserved parkland and open space to just over 15,000 acres. County open space in Bernards will now total 1,350 acres, including Lord Stirling Park and the Second Watchung Greenway. Lord Stirling Park itself consists of 981 acres, including the EEC, Lord Stirling Stable and the former Ross estate property.
NESHANIC VALLEY GOLF COURSE WELCOMES
SHORT GAME EXPERT ROGER CLEVELAND
(l-r) Fred Glass, Ken Fivek, Roger Cleveland, Bob Ransone, and David Chung
The Somerset County Park Commission and Callaway Golf welcomed legendary golf club designer and short-game expert Roger Cleveland at Neshanic Valley Golf Course, 2301 South Branch Road in Neshanic Station, New Jersey on Sunday,
October 9, 2016.
Mr. Cleveland hosted a “Short-game Techniques Clinic,” explaining and demonstrating wedge play.
Mr. Cleveland now serves on a Callaway Golf team of design experts following his founding of the Cleveland Golf Company in 1979. He joined Callaway in 1996 as chief club designer and under his direction launched the Callaway Golf Forged Wedges constructed from carbon steel and featuring a face with modified U grooves.
Neshanic Valley Golf Course provides an all-inclusive golfing experience with a 27-hole Championship Course, a 9-hole Academy Course, the Learning Center, and the Callaway Golf Performance Center.
The state-of-the-art Learning Center includes a double-ended driving range with grass and mat hitting areas, a 12,000 square foot putting green, a practice facility including bunkers and three chipping greens, and two practice holes.
The Callaway Golf Performance Center at Neshanic Valley, the only facility of its kind on the east coast, offers a state-of-the-art computerized golf club fitting and swing analysis system, operated by Callaway-trained professionals.
SOMERSET COUNTY PARK COMMISSION DEDICATES
NEW THERAPEUTIC RECREATION VAN
(l to r): Park Commission Director Ray Brown; Therapeutic Recreation Manager Dina Trunzo, CTRS; Foundation Chair John Kitchen; Foundation Trustees Chuck Rosen; Fred Quick; Freeholder Peter Palmer; Mike Camerino; Walter Hansen; Mike Torpey; and Jason Dameo.
The Somerset County Park Commission has taken delivery of specially outfitted van for use by the Therapeutic Recreation (TR) Department.
The $56,000 Ford Transit 350 van was purchased for the TR Department by the Somerset County Park Foundation, utilizing funds raised from the annual Pro-Celebrity Golf Outing, various other fund raising events, and contributions.
The van, adapted with a lift and wheelchair securement system, is used to transport people with disabilities living in participating Somerset County communities and registered for TR services. TR programs and activities are designed to promote an active leisure lifestyle that improves social, physical, cognitive and emotional functioning and health while enhancing abilities.
“Available transportation is too frequently the reason why individuals don’t and can’t participate in our programs,” stated Dina Trunzo, Manager of Therapeutic Recreation. “The new van will allow more individuals with mobility impairments to utilize our services.”
“The ability to provide a necessary resource for the Therapeutic Recreation Department is a tribute to the hundreds of individuals and companies that support the Park Foundation,” stated Foundation Chair John Kitchen.
INVESTORS BANK & INVESTORS FOUNDATION HELP TO REBUILD
THE BOONDOCKS BOARDWALK
Contribution matched by Park Foundation
(l to r) John Nietzel-Senior VP at Investors Bank; Ada Melendez-McGuinness-Investors Foundation Trustee; Antie Celli-Manager Investors Pluckemin Branch; Shawn McCrohan, Manager Environmental Science; John Kitchen, President of the Park Foundation.
Investors Foundation (Investors Bank) and the Somerset County Park Foundation each provided generous donations to the Environmental Education Center (EEC) for the express purpose of completing the reconstruction of the "Boondocks Boardwalk" located in Lord Stirling Park.
At the February meeting of the Park Foundation, representatives from Investors met with EEC staff to present a check in the amount of $25,000 which was matched by the Foundation and added to the $11,500+ earned through a crowd funding source. These funds will be used for materials to repair the "Boondocks Boardwalk" at the EEC.
In 2011 and 2012, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy damaged one of the most beloved and biologically rich stretches along the 9-mile trail system in Lord Stirling Park at the EEC, 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
The 900-foot "Boondocks Boardwalk" trail was severely damaged and has remained closed to the public. Prior to its closure it was considered a treasure a treasure by visitors to Lord Stirling Park due to its remoteness and solitude. It is well known as a unique habitat and an excellent spot for birding and discovering wildlife.
Park guests who regularly walk the EEC trails for exercise and to enjoy the ever-changing beauty of nature have asked that this section of trail in the western edge of the Great Swamp be rebuilt. In addition to general hiking, the trail will be used for school tours, summer science programs and birding programs.
The construction will be done by the Somerset County Handymen Volunteer program. Trials are expected to be open to the public in July of 2016.
"Investors came through for the people of the region who enjoy the peace, the solitude, the wildlife, and opportunity to walk the boardwalk into the deepest parks of Lord Stirling Park," commented Shawn McCrohan, Manager of Environmental Science. "The Boondocks Boardwalk is an important part of our infrastructure and to have it back will be an advantage for all."
The EEC is nestled within 425 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The variety of habitats of floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, and natural and man-made ponds, fields, and forests provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park.
A video describing the 'Boondocks Boardwalk' is available at https://youtu.be/SJbqj64gne8.
LORD STIRLING STABLE AWARDED GOLD MEDAL HORSE FARM
Accepting the Gold Medal Horse Farm Award for Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable are (l to r):
Freeholder Peter Palmer, Park Foundation President John Kitchen, Park Deputy Director Cindie Sullivan,
Stable Manager Marge Margentino, Park Director Ray Brown, Freeholder Patrick Scaglione,
Park Commission Vice-president Bill Crosby,
Park Commission President Don DiFrancesco.
Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable (LSS), located at 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, has been selected as a “Gold Medal Horse Farm” by the New Jersey Equine Environmental Stewardship Program (NJEESP). Lord Stirling Stable is only the fourth facility in the state to earn this honor.
The award was presented to Stable Manager Marge Margentino, Park Commissioners, and Senior Staff at a reception at the Cook College Center on the campus of Rutgers University.
The NJEESP is a joint project of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University (NJAES), the Rutgers Equine Science Center, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA).
The Gold Medal Horse Farm program recognizes outstanding equine farms for management practices; stewardship of the land; the health, safety, and well-being of the horses; programming; and dedication to environmental sustainability. Further, it underscores the efforts of the New Jersey equine industry to maintain the beauty of the Garden State.
The award recognizes Lord Stirling Stable’s accomplishments including a new Nutrient Management plan developed to benefit the stable and the entire park system. The on-site composting facility transforms manure and stable waste into an organic, nutrient-rich material which is used to fertilize the pastures and plants at all Somerset County Park locations
Additional management practices include non-chemical control of weeds, dragging pastures to break up manure, pasture renovation, and daily removal of manure from smaller paddocks and turnouts.
“We are honored to be recognized for providing proper care of our horses, protecting our land, and delivering a rewarding riding experience for our guests,” commented Stable Manager Marge Margentino.
Established in 1968, Lord Stirling Stable is located on the site of the former John Jacob Astor estate within the Great Swamp Watershed. It is home to 80 horses and ponies and serves the recreational equestrian needs of Somerset and nearby counties.
Lord Stirling Stable joins Woodhollow Farm (2014), D’Arrigo Racing Stable LLC (2013) and Showplace Farms (2012) as the state’s only Gold Medal Horse Farms.
RUDOLF W. van der GOOT ROSE GARDEN
EARNS INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION
The Somerset County Park Commission has proudly announced that the Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden at Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey is the recipient of the 2015 World Federation of Rose Societies' (WFRS) Garden of Excellence Award.
Submitted to the WFRS headquarters in Australia with other submissions from throughout the world, the nomination was initiated by a member of the Jersey Shore Rose Society in July of 2014. Members of the American Rose Society and Master Rosarians toured, photographed, and critiqued the garden, judging its qualifying characteristics.
The highly competitive and prestigious award has been earned by internationally renowned gardens including La Roseraie de Bagatelle in France, the Garden of Roses in England, and Washington Park in Portland, Oregon along with gardens in Argentina, China, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, and other countries throughout the world. Jolene Adams, President of the American Rose Society, was in Lyon, France to accept the award on behalf of the Somerset County Park Commission.
The Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden is one acre in size and contains more than 3,000 roses of 325 varieties. The garden was named in honor of Rudolf W. van der Goot, the first horticulturist with the Somerset County Park Commission, as a tribute to his efforts in designing and developing the garden. The Rose Garden is located on Mettlers Road (Parking Lot A and F) in the East Millstone section of Franklin Township’s Colonial Park.
From late spring through fall, the roses present a kaleidoscope of color, form, and fragrance. Visitors can view popular modern hybrids, species, and various classes of Old Garden Roses. All roses are clearly labeled for easy identification and only roses that thrive in central NJ are kept in the rose collections.
Officials Celebrate Grand Opening of Skillman Park
State, county and township officials and county parks staff cut the ribbon to open Skillman Park in Montgomery Township on April 23. Pictured left to right are: Freeholder Patrick Scaglione; Assemblywoman Donna Simon; Senator Kip Bateman; Park Commissioner Bill Crosby; Mark Eicher, park maintenance staff; Township Committeeman Rich Smith; Rob Daniels, park maintenance staff; Park Commission President Donald DiFrancesco; Mayor Christine Madrid; David Daniel, Skillman Park foreman; Freeholder Director Mark Caliguire; former Mayor and current Township Planning Board member Don Matthews; Freeholder Patricia Walsh; Township Committeeman Ed Traska; Park Commissioner Helen "Chickie" Haines; Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli; Dr. A. D. Amar, county Open Space Advisory Committee; and Township Committeewoman Patricia Graham; and Suzanne Ochse, county Open Space Advisory Committee.
The dilapidated buildings are gone, the loop trail is finished and new landscaping and signage grace the entrances to the 247-acre Skillman Park. Officials and residents celebrated the park's grand opening April 23 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The grand opening of Skillman Park adds another jewel to Somerset County's crown of beautifully preserved parkland," said Freeholder Director Mark Caliguire. As a former township mayor and now as a county official, he has been involved in plans for the property for several years.
"The transformation of this property has been phenomenal," Freeholder Director Caliguire said. "When you look at pictures of the old power plant and other run-down structures that were languishing here, you can't help but be impressed by the amount of careful and thorough work that has brought us to this point today – the grand opening of another lovely Somerset County park.
"The county Park Commission staff and leadership did an amazing job," he said. "Their hard work and vision has produced exceptional results.
"This site was in danger of remaining a brownfield, being turned into thousands of homes or even COAH apartments," he noted. "Instead it is now preserved forever as a beautiful park."
"Montgomery is very fortunate to enjoy Somerset County's newest park in our community!" said Mayor Christine Madrid. "We are grateful to the county Park Commission for working with us and the Skillman Park Planning Committee to create such a beautiful public space in the heart of our community. What a contrast to what was here before! Residents are going to find so much to enjoy in this great new community resource."
County crews and contractors have created an attractive new look and amenities at the passive recreation-focused park.
A 2.2-mile, 12-foot-wide, paved multi-use loop trail has been built along much of the former facility's road and driveway network. New fencing, signage and landscaping have been installed at the park entrances. Much of the breathtaking, tree-lined road layout, designed by noted landscape architect and engineer Charles W. Leavitt in 1901, has been preserved.
Old paving was removed so that the center of Larocque Circle will be open lawn with a small parking area. Main Boulevard has been repaved and sufficient parking has been added or improved in four convenient locations.
Much of Skillman Park will remain a natural setting. Certain areas within the park will be considered for the creation of wildlife habitat through proper planting and maintenance practices. Buffers will be maintained along stream corridors for wildlife use and to improve water quality. An overlook area along the Rock Brook will provide a view to a wetlands restoration project the county will undertake using a state grant.
A group of Montgomery volunteers from the Environmental Corps and Friends of Open Space has so far planted more than 50 trees as part of an ongoing reforestation project, in cooperation with the Somerset County Park Commission and Township Open Space Committee. The North Princeton Developmental Center Sacred Grounds, an existing cemetery for the former facility that was on the site, has been cleaned up, fenced and replanted by Park Commission maintenance staff with the assistance of three girls from Montgomery Girl Scout Troop 236 – Sophia Sharpless, Jenna Devchand and Claire Decker – as their Silver Award project.
Once known as the New Jersey Village for Epileptics, the facility evolved into a psychiatric facility in the 1950s and was called the North Princeton Developmental Center. It was closed by the State of New Jersey in the mid-1990s and the property was purchased by Montgomery Township from the state in 2007. The county bought the 247 acres from the township in 2011, with funds ultimately coming from the county's Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.
The Skillman Park Planning Committee includes Montgomery Township residents Lysa Wilson and Emad AbouSabé, Township Open Space Committee Chairman Clem Fiori, Freeholder Director Caliguire, Freeholder Patrick Scaglione, County Administrator Michael J. Amorosa and Park Commission Secretary/Director Raymond A. Brown.
NESHANIC VALLEY GOLF COURSE EARNS
ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP AWARD
Park Commission Golf staff accept the 2015 Arthur P. Weber MGA Club Environmental Leaders in Golf Award on the deck at Neshanic Valley Golf Course. (l to r) Bob Ransone, Deputy Director Golf Division; Darrell Marcinek, Director of Golf Maintenance; Andrew Hojnowski, Manager Golf Maintenance NVGC; Ed Highland, Supervisor Golf Maintenance.
Neshanic Valley Golf Course, 2301 South Branch Road, Neshanic Station, New Jersey, has added to the long list of environmental recognition the facility has received in its first 10 years of operation, earning the prestigious Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA) Arthur P. Weber Environmental Leaders in Golf Award.
The MGA is comprised of clubs throughout the tri-state area. The MGA is one of the nation's™ oldest, largest and most respected golf organizations with nearly 140,000... members.
The Arthur P. Weber MGA Club Environmental Leaders in Golf Award recognizes an MGA member club that demonstrates environmental stewardship through golf course maintenance, construction, education, and research.
Neshanic Valley is the first public facility to earn the award. Prior recipients include: Trump National, Bedminster, NJ - 2007; Sebonack Golf Club, Southhampton, NY - 2008; Westchester Country Club, Rye, NY - 2009; Glen Arbor Golf Club, Bedford, NY- 2010; Round Hill Country Club, Greenwich, CT - 2011; Rockland Country Club, Sparkill, NY - 2012; Wee Burn Country Club, Darien, CT - 2013; and Manhattan Woods Country Club - West Nyack, NY, 2014.
"Earning the Weber Award is another great honor for Neshanic Valley and a tribute to the entire Park Commission, beginning with the leadership provided by the Commissioners and senior management and including the dedicated staff at the course," commented Darrell Marcinek, Director of Golf Maintenance for the Park Commission.
In addition to the Weber Award, Neshanic Valley has been recognized by the Audubon International as a Certified Cooperative Sanctuary for preservation and enhancement of the wildlife habitat and protection of natural resources; by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority as a "Friendly" facility based on operational and maintenance practices; and recognized for Environmental Stewardship by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The facility has also been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER BEGINS
IMPLEMENTING 3M BIOMIMICRY GRANT
Biomimicry specialists and EEC staff (l to r) Johnny Quispe, Missy Holzer, Christa Wood, Vanessa Darras tour the trails of the Great Swamp to observe key species that will be incorporated into the Biomimicry program.
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center (EEC) recently received a $50,000 Eco Grant from 3M to develop a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum field trip program for local schools using the theme of biomimicry.
Utilizing grant funds matched by the Somerset County Park Foundation, Science Curriculum Specialist Missy Holzer and Biomimicry Lab Coordinator Johnny Quispe have been brought on board to help develop the new STEM-rich school tour program. (Complete bios may be found below.)
Specialist Holzer will be developing curriculum that supports the science-based needs of schools and teachers and Coordinator Quispe will assist in developing a classroom at the EEC for students to apply hands-on biomimicry
According to the Biomimicry Institute, â€œBiomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies.
The EEC is in a unique position to develop and implement a science-based environmental and conservation education program based on the biodiversity of the Great Swamp basin. The consultants have extensively toured the trails of the Great Swamp to confirm its viability as a living laboratory that will provide excellent opportunities for environmental STEM education.
Biomimicry curriculum will be used as:
-A new way for young people to view and value the natural world; to see Nature
not just as something to learn about, but as something to learn from
-A compelling way to present science, technology, engineering, and math subjects
-A tool to enhance and express creativity through design, with hands-on, minds-
on, project-based activities
-A way to connect school subjects to one another, and school subjects to the real
world beyond classroom walls
-A unique and powerful way to think and learn about sustainability
Shawn McCrohan, Manager of the EEC commented, â€œReceiving the 3M grant was an enormous thrill for the EEC staff. Beginning to develop the program and anticipating implementation of the curriculum is incredibly exciting.â€
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center is nestled within the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The variety of habitats includes: floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, fields, forests, and natural and man-made ponds. These habitats provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park. All are within walking distance of the multi-faceted building. An environmentally based library is located within the Center itself. The Exhibit Hall annually hosts environmentally focused presentations that are free to the public..
SCIENCE CURRICULUM SPECIALIST
Missy Holzer has been teaching high school science for more than 25 years. She currently teachers AP Environmental Science, dual-credit Honors Physical Geography, and Astronomy. Her philosophy in education includes using hands-on, minds-on inquiry activities as a way to promote life-long learning in her students. Her students use real-time and original data and data tools in their pursuit of understanding Earth System Science. Missy enjoys field research immensely and has assisted in data collection in places such as Svalbard, Nicaragua, Kenya, Ecuador, Jamaica, Costa Rica, off the coasts of Chile, Oregon, South Carolina, and Cape Cod. Back in the classroom she uses her field experiences to develop units of study that will inspire students to get out and explore their natural world. She has a master's degree in science education, a master's degree in geography, and is a PhD candidate in science education.
BIOMIMICRY LAB COORDINATOR
Johnny Quispe, 23, is a graduate from St. Peterâ€™s Preparatory high school, and a recent graduate with a B.S. in International Environmental Policy with a focus in Forest Ecology . He is a currently a research assistant on a number of projects at Rutgers University and works with the Ecology, Landscape Architecture, and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments. He has also worked with the University of Akron-OH on a Tamarack Bog Restoration and a Vegetative Index of Biotic Integrity. His current research interests entail wetland ecology, ecosystems ecology, natural resource management, and forestry. Mr. Quispe currently conducts independent research on ultrafiltration & the desalinization process of mangrove trees. Using his diverse background in environmental studies and ecology, he hopes to provide public health education, clean water, and a better quality of life for the people of Africa, starting with TanzaniaHe is currently working on initiating future projects in Peru & Indonesia.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER RECEIVES
BIOMIMICRY GRANT FROM 3M
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center (EEC) has received a $50,000 Eco Grant from 3M to develop a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum field trip program using the theme of biomimicry. The grant will be matched by funds donated by the Somerset County Park Foundation.
According to the Biomimicry Institute, "Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies."
The EEC is in a unique position to develop and implement a science-based environmental and conservation education program based on the biodiversity of the Great Swamp basin. The living laboratory of Lord Stirling Park, adjacent to the EEC, provides excellent opportunities for environmental STEM education.
Biomimicry curriculum will be used as:
-A new way for young people to view and value the natural world; to see Nature
not just as something to learn about,
but as something to learn from
-A compelling way to present science, technology, engineering, and math subjects
-A tool to enhance and express creativity through design, with hands-on, minds-
on, project-based activities
-A way to connect school subjects to one another, and school subjects to the real
world beyond classroom walls
-A unique and powerful way to think and learn about sustainability
The 3M Eco Grant and matching funds will be dedicated to the development and marketing a new science-based K-12 biomimicry curriculum focused on the unique biology of the Great Swamp Basin. The EEC staff will support teachers and educators through onsite field trips, school outreach, online resources, and teacher training workshops.
Funding will also be used to renovate existing space at the EEC as a biomimicry lab, enhance existing trails and facilities with interpretive signage, and to create printed and digital resources for teachers and educators. Grant money would also go towards scholarships for school field trips, and a long term evaluation study to determine the impact of the programs.
Shawn McCrohan, Manager of the EEC commented, ""It is exciting to be working on a project that will have young people looking for ways to apply nature's adaptive strategies to solve some of today's biggest environmental challenges as well as other innovative solutions based on nature."
3M is awarding almost $400,000 to 10 organizations with its 2014 Eco Grants, which are aimed at connecting kids to nature and improving environmental and conservation education for youth. Since 2001, 3M's environmental giving program has invested more than $25 million in sustainability initiatives as part of the company's vision of improving every life.
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center is nestled within the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The variety of habitats includes: floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, fields, forests, and natural and man-made ponds. These habitats provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park. All are within walking distance of the multi-faceted building. An environmentally based library is located within the Center itself. The Exhibit Hall annually hosts environmentally focused presentations that are free to the public.
SUCCESSFUL FOOD BANK COLLECTION AT
"STUFF THE TURKEY" HUNTER PACE
Kashew is flanked by (l to r) Freeholder Peter Palmer, Freeholder Pat Walsh, and Marge Margentino, Manager of Lord Stirling Stable, as they prepare to deliver the non-perishable food items collected at the “Stuff the Turkey” Hunter Pace held at Lord Stirling Stable, 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
The Somerset County Park Commission Lord Stirling Stable, located at 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, joined with the Friends of Lord Stirling Stable to present the "Stuff the Turkey" Hunter Pace, providing riders the opportunity to make Thanksgiving a little brighter for Somerset County residents in need.
A Hunter Pace is an event for horse and rider in which teams of two to three follow a well-marked course that is 6 to 8 miles in length. There are usually more than 30 fences, up to 3' in height.
Participants were asked to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Somerset County Food Bank. Among the nearly 175 items that were generously contributed were canned vegetables and fruit, mashed potatoes, stuffing mix, gravy, pasta, breakfast items, sauces, soup, and much more.
SOMERSET COUNTY & HILLSBOROUGH TOWNSHIP
ANNOUNCE FIRST PHASE OF DEVELOPMENT AT
MOUNTAIN VIEW PARK
District 16 State Legislators, Somerset County Freeholders, Hillsborough Township Officials, and representatives of the Somerset County Park Commission officially announced the first phase of development of Mountain View Park at the site of the former GSA Belle Mead Depot in Hillsborough, NJ.
Officials from Somerset County government, the Somerset County Park Commission, and Hillsborough Township recently marked the soon to begin first phase of an athletic complex at Mountain View Park with a ceremony at 141 Mountain View Road in Hillsborough, the site of the former GSA Belle Mead Depot.
Somerset County and Hillsborough Township executed an Offer to Purchase the 369-acre property with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in October of 2008. The Somerset County Improvement Authority ultimately acquired the property in April of 2009 at a cost of $15,735,000. The funds from the purchase were then applied to the environmental cleanup of the former depot.
"Turning the former GSA Belle Mead Depot into a functioning recreational asset for the residents of Somerset County is a huge undertaking that will provide immeasurable value," stated Somerset County Freeholder Deputy Director Mark Caliguire.
"County leadership has focused on this property since the 1950s and it is an honor to satisfy the legacy that they set for us," said Freeholder Peter S. Palmer.
Since the acquisition of the property the County has awarded contracts for several demolition and cleanup activities including removal of approximately 20 miles of rail bed. Additional materials removed and properly disposed of include approximately 1,512 cubic yards of contaminated soil and stone and approximately 2,665,258 square feet of concrete from fourteen (14) foundation slabs. The Waste Water Treatment plant was removed and crushed with its associated 107,000 gallons of gray water and 23,000 gallons of sludge removed and properly disposed.
"This massive conversion from a contaminated property to one that will soon serve as an active recreation option for the residents of south Somerset County is a tribute to cooperative planning," commented Mayor Doug Tomson, Hillsborough Township. "Working closely with the County agencies and the Park Commission has created a plan that will serve our community for many decades to come."
The future Mountain View Park is contiguous to the County's 5,500-acre Sourland Mountain Preserve and in close proximity to the Township's Ann Van Middlesworth Park. It is flat and relatively open, providing a sweeping vista of the nearby Sourland Mountain.
The County and the Township also entered into a cooperative agreement to oversee the cleanup and develop a plan for the future use of the facility. The agreement created a GSA Joint Administrative Committee that oversaw the preparation of a Master Plan that identified a long-range vision and strategy to develop the proposed site into a regional park to serve the leisure services and recreational needs of the county residents throughout the southern portion of Somerset County. The process included stakeholder meetings and public charrettes to solicit public input.
Phase 1 of the project includes the development of two (2) adult baseball fields, four (4) Youth Baseball fields and one (1) special needs Challenger Field. All fields will be lighted. Amenities include batting cages, playground, pavilion, a concession/restroom facility, park maintenance facility, and a paved perimeter multi-use trail with associated parking. The plan also accommodates the possible future development of six (6) additional baseball/softball fields.
Approximately 40 acres near the Mountain View Road frontage will be reserved for future commercial use. Proceeds from the sale of the 40 acres will be utilized to offset the park's development.
The project continues to promote the goals of the Somerset County Parks Recreation and Open Space Master Plan (December, 2000) by implementing the goal of providing open space for a diverse mix of quality recreational experiences appropriate for a County-wide park system. This goal further states that "In view of the county-wide spread of suburbanization, greater priority should be given to acquiring larger, intact tracts of land with the highest amenity value and greatest amount of developable land area for active recreation facilities and supporting services."
An August, 2005 Capital Facilities Study also identified the need for a "South Central County Athletic Complex" which recommends the development of "an active recreation complex in the southern part of the County to complement the nearby 3,000 acre Sourland Mountain Preserve."
Rotary/Rutgers Enabling Gardens Partnership
Grows Lives One Seed (and Pergola) at a Time
Freeholder Peter S. Palmer presents a citation commending members of Rotary District 7510 on the creation of a healing space, which includes a pergola and container plantings, in the courtyard of Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center in Bridgewater. Participating in the presentation are, from left to right, County Park Commission Director Raymond Brown, Park Commission Leisure Services Division Deputy Director Cynthia Sullivan, Park Commission Therapeutic Recreation Manager Dina Trunzo, Branchburg Rotary Club President Victoria Maloney, Freeholder Robert Zaborowski, Branchburg Rotary Club President-elect Mike Cohen, Branchburg Rotary member Senator Christopher (Kip) Bateman, Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, County Department of Human Services Director Michael Frost, Rotary District 7510 Director of Club & Community Service and Branchburg Rotary Club member Laura DePrado, and Park Commission Senior Program Coordinator Leora Shahay.
Into every garden, a little rain must fall. Such was the case when the Board of Chosen Freeholders presented a citation commending the Rotary/Rutgers Enabling Gardens Partnership on the creation of a healing space, including a pergola and container plantings, in the courtyard of Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center.
"Because the open courtyard takes in a great deal of heat during the summer, the addition of the pergola, along with some climbing plants, will provide shade and color for the benefit of patients of the Mental Health Center, especially those who participate in the Therapeutic Horticulture program," said Freeholder Peter S. Palmer. "The horticultural program offers organized gardening sessions with opportunities for patients to participate in hands-on activities for the therapeutic benefits that gardening can provide."
Horticultural activities that take place in the courtyard have included the planting, harvesting and sampling of a variety of fruits and vegetables, floral arranging, sensory activities and crafts.
The Enabling Gardens initiative is a partnership between Rotary District 7510 and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension of Rutgers University. Funding for the project was provided by Rotary District 7510, local Rotary Clubs and Rotarian business owners. The pergola was installed by Archadeck of Morris County.
The Therapeutic Horticulture program, which is run by Park Commission Senior Program Coordinator Leora Shahay, is supported by the Somerset County Park Foundation in conjunction with an annual grant from the Garden Club of Somerset Hills.
EAST COUNTY PARK TRAIL OPENS FOR PUBLIC USE
County & local officials cut the ribbon to open the new loop walking & biking trail at the 150-acre East County Park bordered by Dubois, Reinman, and Old Stirling Roads in Warren. From left to right; Mayor Gary DiNardo, Committee Person George Lazo, Deputy Mayor Mick Marion, Park Commission Vice President Bill Crosby, Freeholder Patricia Walsh, Park Commissioner Paul Consiglio, Park Commission President Steve Fuerst, Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione, Committee Person Carolann Garafola, Freeholder Peter Palmer.
Somerset County Freeholder and Park Commission liaison Patricia Walsh has announced that the new loop trail at the 150-acre East County Park, bordered by Dubois, Reinman and Old Stirling roads in Warren Township, is officially open to the public.
The Board of Freeholders, the Warren Township Committee, and the Somerset County Park Commission have developed the facility as a partnership. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new trail on September 10.
"The county and township have a history of partnering on the development of athletic fields within the park," Freeholder Walsh said. “These include a synthetic-turf multi-use field, a synthetic-turf soccer field and a natural-turf soccer field. The current design adds a network of multi-use trails throughout the park that will connect the existing uses and make more of the park accessible to the public.”
The trail features an 8-foot-wide stone multi-use loop approximately four-tenths of a mile long. Also included is a 26-space paved parking area, accessible from Reinman Road.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with Warren Township to realize the full vision of East County Park," said Freeholder Walsh. "The trail network opens up the most scenic portion of the park to the public and allows for the future development of additional passive recreational uses."
“It’s very exciting to see this park concept become a reality. Warren residents have asked the Township Committee to explore further recreational opportunities in the Township,” said Deputy Mayor Mick Marion. ”Given our past positive experiences working with the County Freeholders and County Park Commission on the Pop Warner Complex and Duderstadt property, it was a natural progression. This area is one of the most picturesque pieces of property in the Township; it represents the Townships rural heritage. The trails will provide a family friendly location designed for the public to enjoy walking, running, biking, or pushing strollers. After a long tough winter, residents will look forward to and be excited about our late-summer, early-fall opening.”
“We are pleased to have been able to provide new passive recreation opportunities to East County residents,” commented Park Commission Director Ray Brown. “The trail loop is an important addition to a growing park facility.”
PARK COMMISSION PARTNERS WITH RARITAN HEADWATERS ASSOCIATION
TO PROTECT THE RARITAN RIVER
The Somerset County Park Commission, led by the Ranger Division, has entered into a collaborative arrangement with the Raritan Headwaters Association to promote an educational initiative to protect the Raritan River from the introduction of invasive species.
The Headwaters project is funded by an Audubon Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship and focuses on spreading awareness about the nuisance alga, didymo, and the importance of leaving no trace of visits to the streams and rivers enjoyed by fisherman, kayakers and boaters.
The basic “Leave No Trace” principle being promoted is to have fishermen, kayakers, boaters, and other stream recreationalists regularly inspect their gear including removal of rocks, mud, plants, moss and other materials; thoroughly cleaning equipment to remove any attached materials; and completely dry equipment in the sun following use.
Aquatic equipment is vulnerable to transferring known aquatic invasives including whirling disease, zebra mussels, water chestnut, New Zealand mud snail and future unknown threats. Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem and when introduced can cause economic and/or environmental harm or threaten human health.
Park Commission Rangers will serve as a positive presence at parks and Commission events to educate visitors on the importance of taking personal responsibility for keeping the Raritan River healthy, clean, and safe. In addition, “Leave No Trace” flyers will be posted at Park Commission facilities along the river.
For more information on the “Leave No Trace” program contact Angela Gorczyca at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (908) 234-1852 x315.
Howe Athletic Complex at Colonial Park Ribbon-cutting and Dedication
May 22, 2014
Senator Kip Bateman and Freeholder Zaborowski
The Somerset County Park Commission, State and County officials, representatives from the Somerset County Park Commission, and members of Gymkhana Cricket Club, Somerset Cavaliers Cricket Club, and Dutch Total Soccer officially opened the Howe Athletic Complex at Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey.
The Howe Complex, off Colonial Drive at the northeastern corner of the park near Elizabeth Avenue, includes two adult soccer fields, three youth soccer fields, and a full sized cricket pitch.
“We have been waiting a long time for a pitch like this,” commented Aslam Khan of the Cavaliers. Added Rana Aftab of Gymkhana, “It’s a beautiful pitch, perfectly flat as it should be.”
“It’s a great location and a rare thing to have so many fields in the same place,” commented Jordi Meijer of Dutch Total Soccer. “We often find ourselves spread out at many school fields but here adult and children’s games can be played at the same time.”
The facility was constructed on the former homestead of Dr. Eugene and Lois Howe. The Howe’s placed the funds received from the sale of the property to the County in a trust account to be returned to the Somerset County Park Commission upon their passing. Mrs. Howe passed away in 1995 and Dr. Howe passed in 2008. A significant portion of the trust’s assets were used to construct the complex, a generous gift to the people of Somerset County.
Dr. Howe was well known in Franklin for volunteer work that included co-founding the Meadows Foundation that continues today to serve as stewards of early Dutch and American Heritage. His passion for reading, poetry and preservation drove him to also become a volunteer at the former Franklin Inn in East Millstone, a structure that also served as a used bookstore.
Dr. Howe was employed as a scientist and researcher at MERCK & Co. where he was awarded 18 patents for his work in isolating and synthesizing amino acids.
Reservations for use of the soccer fields and cricket pitch may be made by online at http://www.somersetcountyparks.org/applications/applications.pdf or by calling the Park Commission at 908-722-1200, ext. 225.
SOMERSET COUNTY PARK COMMISSION HELPS
RESTORE THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT
The First Orchard of Its Kind Planted at Lord Stirling Park
Chestnut trees planted from seed are protected from rodent damage by tree tubes. A fence will keep the deer from browsing the young leaves. By the middle of summer a small Chestnut forest should begin to appear. The site is visible from the Environmental Education Center West Observation Blind at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, NJ.
The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) recently planted a progeny test orchard of 250 of the most advanced, potentially blight-resistant American chestnut seedlings at the Somerset County Park Commission, Lord Stirling Park in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The seedlings, called Restoration Chestnuts 1.0, are part of a unique breeding program led by TACF to restore the American chestnut to the eastern forests of America.
Corporate volunteers from Verizon and Johnson & Johnson helped prepare the area for the planting. Goldman Sachs employees provided labor and funding through the New Jersey Land Conservancy’s Partners for Parks corporate volunteer program.
Once the giants of the eastern forests, American chestnuts stood up to 100 feet tall and numbered in the billions. They were a vital part of the forest ecology, a key food source for wildlife, and an essential component of the human economy. In the beginning of the 20th century the fungal pathogen responsible for chestnut blight was accidentally imported from Asia and spread rapidly through the American chestnut population, killing an estimated four billion mature trees from Maine to Georgia by 1950. Several attempts to breed blight-resistant trees in the mid-1900s were unsuccessful.
In 1983, a group of scientists formed The American Chestnut Foundation with a mission to develop blight-resistant American chestnut trees. Now assisted by nearly 6,000 members, volunteers, and partners, the organization is undertaking the planting of potentially blight-resistant trees in select locations throughout the eastern US.
“The Pennsylvania/New Jersey Chapter’s partnership with Somerset County Parks represents a huge step in our chestnut restoration program,” said TACF Regional Science Coordinator Sara Fitzsimmons. “This orchard is the first of its kind in New Jersey, enabling us to test and evaluate our Restoration Chestnuts 1.0 for blight resistance and growth characteristics.”
Jane Parks, Environmental Education Center, Environmental Events Specialist stated, “The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center started working with TACF in 2006 by planting a test site of American and Chinese Chestnuts. We are very pleased that our location has been selected for the first Restoration Chestnut 1.0 planting in New Jersey. The planting aligns with our mission to educate the public about the importance of preserving our fragile environment.”
PARK COMMISSION EARNS AWARD FOR
RECENTLY PUBLISHED HISTORY
The Somerset County Park Commission has been presented with the 2014 New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association (NJRPA) Agency Showcase Award for Natural Beauty of the Somerset County Parks, a history of the Park Commission in text and photos.
The award was presented at the 39th Annual NJRPA Awards Program and Dinner at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Agency Showcase Award recognizes outstanding marketing campaigns and
promotional materials that encourage participation in recreation activities or promote health and wellness programs.
Natural Beauty of the Somerset County Parks by Clifford W. Zink chronicles the history of the Somerset County Park Commission with 425 illustrations and photos from the 57-year history of the Commission. The funding for Natural Beauty was provided by the Somerset County Park Foundation. The Foundation is a 501c3 whose mission is to preserve, support, and promote Somerset County Park Commission programs, facilities, and open space through advocacy and fundraising.
Natural Beauty traces the development of Somerset County’s park system from its roots in the County’s agricultural past through its evolution over nearly six decades into an organization utilizing creative public-private partnerships to preserve open space and serve more than 2,000,000 visitors and program participants annually. The book highlights information and excerpts from historic documents and interviews with former and present elected officials, commissioners, directors, planners, naturalists, rangers and recreation staff.
Natural Beauty is available free with a $40 donation to the Somerset County Park Foundation by visiting the Somerset County Park Commission Headquarters 355 Milltown Road, Bridgewater, NJ, 08807; 908 722-1200.