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Resource Conservation and Development Program 2010

Resource Conservation and Development Program 2010

New Jersey hosts two authorized Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Areas. North Jersey RC&D serves Sussex, Warren, Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, and Union Counties. South Jersey RC&D serves Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Salem Counties.

North Jersey RC&D

North Jersey RC&D serves and is sponsored by the County Freeholders and Soil Conservation Districts of Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties in New Jersey. Through partnerships with municipal, state and federal agencies, as well as many private entities, the North Jersey RC&D Council develops and manages grant-funded programs that promote the conservation and improvement of the region’s resources and protect the area’s quality of life.

Walnut Brook Project

photo of Walnut Brook Buffer planting with volunteersWalnut Brook Riparian Restoration continued with the creation of 3 acres of wetland habitat and the planting of 11,169 wetland emergent herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees. Earth Team members, citizens and community volunteers contributed 185 hours to plant 805 trees and shrubs along the Walnut Brook. Thanks to the large volunteer effort, North Jersey RC&D received the 2009-2010 NJ Earth Team Golden Glove Award for Most Valuable Use of Volunteers and the staff received the 2009-2010 NJ Earth Team Triple Crown Award for NRCS Staff Most Helpful to the Earth Team. Additionally, the project was awarded The 2010 Excellence in Water Resources Protection & Planning Award for Exceptional Stream Restoration Project by the NJ Section of the American Water Resources Association.

Installation of Dry Hydrants

Photo of a dry hydrant being usedNorth Jersey RC&D, with funding from the US Forest Service, installed six dry hydrants in Warren County. These hydrants will provide easy access to water for fire suppression to over 19,000 residents in Liberty Township, Allamuchy, Greenwich, Bloomsbury Borough (Hunterdon County), and Blairstown. A dry hydrant is a non-pressurized pipe leading into a natural water source (lakes, rivers, or streams) which fire companies can draft water from easily and with minimal effects on the land.

Riparian Buffer Installation Continues

The installation of riparian buffers continues with the use of Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program funding support. This year, a 10 acre riparian restoration and enhancement project occurred in Station Park along the Wallkill River in Sparta Township, Sussex County. Earth Team volunteers worked at total of 767 hours over the course of 5 days to install 846 trees and shrubs. Project partners and volunteer planters contributed $23,000 of in-kind support. This more than matched the $16,122 funds spent on the project.

This summer, four stream restoration interns spent 213 hours monitoring the success of 27 riparian restoration projects established by North Jersey RC&D. These projects have taken place in Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties since 1999.

Agricultural Water Enhancement Program Outreach

North Jersey RC&D conducted focused door-to-door outreach to promote the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). The outreach effort was focused using a model developed through a Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative grant previously awarded to North Jersey RC&D. Over 100 farms received information about AWEP resulting in 11 approved applications. The total 2010 funds obligated for best management practices that benefit the water quality in the Raritan Basin was $223,816.

Stewardship of Open Space Program

In 2010, North Jersey RC&D launched a feasibility study of the Stewardship of Open Space (SOS) program with funding from the Victoria Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Conservation Resources Inc. The SOS program will assist municipalities with development of a holistic open space management plan for all public open space. The feasibility study included interviews with all 153 municipalities served by North Jersey RC&D on open space tax structure. In 2011, North Jersey RC&D will be launching a Pilot program with interested municipalities.

New Five Year Plan

North Jersey RC&D is in the process of developing their new five year Area Plan. To assess the needs in the communities served, an online survey was developed and distributed to over 1,200 individuals. Results of the survey will help inform what programs and projects will best meet the needs of the community.

South Jersey RC&D

The South Jersey RC&D Council works to accelerate the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources, improve the general level of economic activity, and enhance the environment and standard of living in their designated RC&D area. With the assistance of an NRCS Coordinator, the RC&D Councils plan, develop and carry out programs for resource conservation and development.

Soil Health Programs

The Council promoted soil health in 2010 through a number of projects and programs. In March it worked with the Ocean County Soil Conservation District (SCD), the New Jersey Association of Soil Conservation Districts, and others to present the first ever New Jersey Soil Health Conference. This one-day conference brought experts from across the country to introduce the benefits of proper soil health management to an audience of over 250 conservationists. (This Conference was followed up by a similar conference in North Jersey in the fall). This spring a Soil Solutions Conference will be held to demonstrate “how to” strategies to improve degraded soils.

Last spring the Council planted warm season grasses in a large detention basin to improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat. This was part of water quality grant that Camden and Gloucester SCDs received to improve water quality in detention basins.

pumpkinNo-Till Pumpkins

The Council also promoted soil health on farms by purchasing a roller/crimper. Vegetable crops can be planted directly into crimped cover crops, reducing soil erosion, pesticide use, and creating a cleaner pumpkin crop. The Council partnered with Rutgers Cooperative Extension to demonstrate this method on two farms; the effort was highlighted at an August Twilight Meeting attended by 50 farmers and conservationist. The roller/crimper is available to farmers who want to try out this technique on their fields. A USDA Conservation Innovations Grant supported this project.

Water Conservation

The Council continued its lawn watering program, posting daily lawn watering values online throughout the summer to four communities in partnership with the United Water Company. Data is gathered from local research grade weather stations maintained by South Jersey RC&D. The Council also emails local newspapers and radio stations daily, while United Water maintains a phone hotline to alert local residents as to daily lawn watering needs. The Council, through its partnership with the State Climatologist from Rutgers, can provide this program to all New Jersey municipalities. The Council reports that water usage for lawn irrigation in Toms River, NJ, in Bergen County, NJ, in West Nyack, NY, and in Wilmington, Delaware, combined was reduced by 25 million gallons last year.

Wildlife Habitat Creation

The Council-coordinated “Team Habitat” established 80 acres of critical wildlife habitat in 2010. A grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation allowed us to hire a Team Habitat Manager to provide steady leadership in this program.

Levee 5 – Miles Creek, Pennsville Township, NJDelaware Estuary Levee Organization

Past efforts with this organization bore fruit in 2009. The South Jersey Levee Inventory was conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service under an agreement signed in August 2008 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District. Funding was provided by the Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This inventory was completed in 2010 and presented to the public last fall in Gloucester County.

Tour des Farms

The Council held its fourth annual Tour des Farms bike ride in Burlington County. Over 250 riders participated, cycling from farm to farm supplied with coupons or “Farm Bucks” redeemable at the local farm markets along the route. Event proceeds support the Council’s “Farming for the Future” MiniGrants, which were awarded to the Ocean County 4H "Animalology" Contest and a hydroponics demonstration at the Cape May Special Services School. These Council-funded projects educate middle and high school students on agricultural topics and practices.