Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Colors Hike: Photos from GSWA's Conservation Management Area

Great Swamp Watershed Association's Director of Education & Outreach Hazel England led a short, afternoon hike through the organization's Conservation Management Area in Harding, NJ. Despite the soggy conditions left over from Hurricanes Irene and Lee, seven hikers braved two hours of mud and the mosquitoes to learn a little more about the environmental significance of wetlands and New Jersey's Great Swamp.  See what they saw! Check out the slideshow below.


View more photos from the Great Swamp Watershed Association by visiting our Flickr profile at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tame Flooding & Curb Pollution: Build A Household Rain Garden

Have you ever thought about all the water that runs off your roof and your driveway during a rain storm? Has the aftermath of Hurricane Irene made you ask how you can help prevent flooding in our area? 

With all of our roads, parking lots, driveways, offices and homes covered in hard, impermeable materials like concrete and asphault, our stormwater doesn't get much of a chance to sink into the ground like it should.  Instead, it gathers into fast-moving torrents capable of carrying away loose soil and debris, and pollutants like trash, motor oil, gas, and road salt.  When those torrents come together in the nearest stormdrain, the next stop along the line is the nearest river, steam, pond or lake. After you think about it a little, it is easy to understand why erosion and pollution from stormwter runoff represent one of the biggest threats to our supply of clean water in northern New Jersey and how all those hard surfaces worsen our flooding problems.

If you own a home with a yard, there is something you can do to help.  Build a rain garden.

A rain garden is little more than a depression in your yard filled with carefully chosen plants and shrubs.  Choosing a low spot lets you feed all the stormwater running off your home and your driveway into a place where it can soak into the ground. Filling the garden with native plants that can survive local environmental conditions helps pull that water into the soil faster.  What you get at the end of the rain gardening process is an attractive piece of landscape that can cut local water pollution up to 30%, curb erosion on your property and along your neighborhood stream, and lessen the chance of local flooding by putting thousands of gallons of water back into the ground rather than out in the street or down flood-prone stormdrains.  Since you will not need to water your yard so often, the savings on your water bill is not bad either.

Sound like something you want to learn more about?  Visit the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, for a special Rain Garden Workshop.  We will show you how to choose the best spot for your garden, how to make sure your gutters and driveways are properly drained, and how you can find the right native trees, plants and shrubs for your new garden plot.  Join us at 568 Tempe Wick Road in Morristown, NJ, between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., to hear Hazel England, GSWA's Director of Outreach and Education resident rain garden expert, give you all the details. You will also have an opportunity to tour GSWA's own demonstration rain garden, installed in 2008.

Registration is required.  Attendance is free for current GSWA members. Non-member adults are asked to contribute $10.00 for participation. Registration and more information is available online at Please call 973-538-3500 x20 if you have any questions about this activity.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Colors Hike In Great Swamp, Sunday, September 25


On Sunday, September 25, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Hazel England, GSWA's Director of Education & Outreach, will lead a tour of new trails and boardwalks at our 53-acre conservation management area (CMA) in Harding, NJ.  This beautiful forested wetland area positively teems with life and provides habitat for several threatened species, including wood turtles and barred owls.  Pools, streams, and woods line all the trails at the CMA and offer a fantastic opportunity to listen for birds, spot native plants, and watch the changing colors of fall.

There have been many changes at the CMA of late, the biggest and most impressive being a recently completed trail expansion.  That’s right; GSWA has almost doubled the total trail length! Thanks to an easement granted by Harding Land Trust, the  new extension finally allows hikers to take in the site’s beautiful swamp-forest area also known as the Case property.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Hurricane Lee, this walk also will provide some insight into the extent of flooding and wind damage in the region.  Please note that the recent flooding will cause our trails to be quite muddy. Plan to  wear boots or other appropriate footwear. Please dress appropriately for weather conditions on the day and bring along a reuseable water bottle. Feel free to bring along field guides and binoculars if you have them.

Registration is required in order to attend this event.

What: Fall Colors Hike in the Great Swamp.


When: Sunday, Sep. 25, 2011; 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: GSWA Conservation Management Area, 1 Tiger Lily Lane, Harding, NJ

Registration: online at or by telephone at 973-538-3500 x22.

Cost: Free for GSWA members and member families, $10 donation for non-members, $5 donation for non-member children (6-17 yrs.); $30 donation for non-member families.

We look forward to seeing you at the CMA! 

For a list of upcoming GSWA events, please visit:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hurricane Irene Damages GSWA Conservation Area

While impacts from last weekend’s hurricane continue to be felt throughout New Jersey, our own beloved Conservation Management Area (CMA) within the Passaic River’s headwaters has not escaped Irene’s wrath unscathed.
The 53-acre area is a flood plain forest, which means that its resident tree and plant species have evolved to deal with fluctuating water levels. Our trees have flared-buttress roots to give them support when the river overflows its banks and the ground is flooded. The same roots penetrate deep into the soil to gain water when the land is parched. The CMA has flooded extensively during past storms—including recent nor’easters and following Hurricane Floyd in 1999—but despite the fact that our trails were constructed with flooding in mind, they could not stand up to Irene’s floodwaters.
Several trees have fallen throughout the property, including some along the deer exclosure built around the perimeter of the property. Stream crossings that remained in place during previous floods floated away under the force of this storm surge. The boardwalk sections around Zimmer Marsh, newly constructed by corporate workday volunteers this summer, have been tossed helter-skelter, a testament to the sheer volume of water dropped by this storm. The current deposited some boardwalk sections 50 yards downstream. Emergency repairs have been underway over the last few days. Thanks to the help of some stalwart GSWA volunteers, the bridge over Silver Brook has been floated and hauled upstream and back up to the riverbank where it belongs. The photographs you see here show some of the damage done to the CMA, and some of what has been done to correct the worst problems.
We still have a lot of work ahead for us before the trails are back in good shape for the fall season. We need your help as the clean-up proceeds, so why not don your hip boots and help us put GSWA’s CMA trails back together!
Please contact Hazel England at if you have some time to help us with this project.
Check out the attached photos for a sense of what this situation's been like.
Thanks to Blaine Rothauser, John Neale and Chuck Gullage for photos.

eNews for September 2011 from Great Swamp Watershed Association

GSWA's eNewsletter for September 2011 is out! Check out our stories on Hurricane Irene and the damage it caused at our Conservation Management Area and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  And, don't miss announcements for all of our upcoming Fall 2011 public events!  We've got talks, movies, hikes and workshops planned for the season that you will not want to miss.  Click the short link below to read more:

Across The Watershed...In Brief for September 2011:



Breakfast Briefing Talk on September 13, 2011: Vegetation & Deer Management at Jockey Hollow

Summer is past and that means it's time for GSWA's Breakfast Briefing Series to resume. This is your once-a-month chance to catch up on current environmental issues before work.  Join us at 8:00 a.m. in our Tempe Wick Road offices for a continental breakfast and a presentation delivered by one of our special guest speakers.  (Presentations conclude at 9:30 a.m.)

Check out our first program on Tuesday, September 13, starting.  To register, visit and click on Event Registration.

Vegetation & Deer Management At Jockey Hollow
Tuesday, September 13, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Special guest Jill Hawk, Superintendent of Morristown National Historical Park, stops by to tell us more about the public scoping process that will help the National Park Service draft a Vegetation and White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) for Jockey Hollow.  The plan/EIS will address issues associated with proliferation of non-native invasive plants, the effects of white-tailed deer overpopulation, and the loss of key aspects of the park's landscape.

Register: Please register online at or call 973-538-3500 x22 for more information.

Location: GSWA Offices, 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, NJ

Cost: Free for members and member families. $10/non-member adult, $5 for non-member children (6-17 yrs.), $30/non-member family.

Upcoming Breakfast Briefings:

Dealing with Deer In Our Region (with Emile DeVito, NJCF)
Tuesday, October 11, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Fracking: What You Need To Know About Hydraulic Fracturing For Natural Gas
Tuesday, November 15, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Friday, September 2, 2011

GSWA Educatio & Outreach Director Hazel England

Lorraine Ash of The Daily Record profiles GSWA's Director of Education & Outreach Hazel England.  The two talk deer, native plants, land-use and other local biodiversity in the following article published on Wednesday. Check it out!