Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gumshoe through the Great Swamp


Nature Detectives hike at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge will sharpen your powers of perception.

Harding Township, NJ—Sherlock Holmes and Colombo could do it if they wanted to.  Now, you and your kids can learn how to collect the evidence and solve some of Mother Nature’s mysteries!  On Saturday, February 25, the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) will lead a special hike through the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (GSNWR) in hot pursuit of some the region’s most-wanted wintertime wildlife.  Figure out which animals are active in winter by tracking down their footprints.  Unmask the identities of birds by listening to their songs.  Uncover secret hiding places for chipmunks, mice, and other small mammals.  Figure out a critter’s favorite meal by examining some scat.  It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s outdoors!

If you want to participate, please pre-register online at, and then meet GSWA’s Director of Outreach & Education Hazel England at 10AM at GSNWR’s Bluebird Parking Lot located near 756 Pleasant Plains Rd. in Basking Ridge, NJ.  GSWA members participate free. Non-members are asked to provide a voluntary donation of $10/adult and $5 /child (6 to 17 yrs.), or $30/family.  No self-respecting sleuth would be caught without a trench coat, so remember to dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes suitable for walking in the woods.  This is a rain, snow, or shine event. Participants must be accompanied by a guide at all times. For more information, call 973-538-3500 x22.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Local Volunteers Keep Pollution Out Of NJ’s Great Swamp

Morris Township, NJ— On February 2, 2012, a group of local volunteers completed construction of one hundred feet of silt fence at Seaton Hackney Stables off of South Street in Morris Township, NJ.  The new fence is designed to protect Loantaka Brook from receiving excessive amounts of pollution during and after storms when rainwater carries animal waste, bacteria, nutrients, and sediment away from the nearby Equine Center.

Loantaka Brook is one of 5 major streams feeding New Jersey’s Great Swamp—home of the United States’ first national wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi River and a critical resting place for migrating birds along the Atlantic Flyway.

Installation of silt fencing is the first in a series of environmental restoration projects planned for the stable grounds.  The Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA), a non-profit group dedicated to protecting the waters and land of the 55-square mile Great Swamp Watershed, has been tasked with overseeing each project in partnership with experts from the Morris County Park Commission, Rutgers University, and the environmental consulting firm Princeton Hydro.  Future work at the site will address the relocation of livestock quarters away from Loantaka Brook, the restoration of a natural buffer of vegetation along the streambank, and the installation of rain gardens and other stormwater and bioretention improvements.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded $300,000 in federal funds for environmental remediation at Seaton Hackney Stables—site of the Morristown Race Track at the turn of the 20th century—following a joint grant application filed by GSWA and the Morris County Park Commission.  A GSWA volunteer first identified problems with stormwater pollution at the stables while visiting a flooded pony corral at the location on a rainy day in 2010.

See photos of our GSWA volunteers and partners at work in this slideshow or at