Observed reduction in local pesticide and chemical fertilizer use

We see a favorable long term shift in pesticide use and resulting pollution here at our region of the Delaware Bay in New Jersey. Yet little is published about this trend. We read plenty of material about the Chesapeake Bay and most of our information about pesticide and fertilizer runoff actually comes from that watershed (like in this July 2018 article). The downside of pesticide and fertilizer use at the bay region is well documented. But here is the good news: many or most of the farms in our region of Cumberland County New Jersey have shifted to organic gardening methods over the past few years. The market demand for organic produce caused these farms to switch over from the former corn and soy bean crops that were driven by chemical applications. We’ve seen no published data yet but we suspect that local water quality is improving. 

Newport farm with clover.JPG

This photo shows a Newport, New Jersey farm with a cover crop of clover. Clover provides a natural source of soil nitrogen and prevents soil erosion over the winter season.

Update on restorative development at Money Island

As we approach the Memorial Day traditional opening of the Money Island community’s seasonal activities, there are many different stakeholder groups operating with increased energy here. Lately we see an almost daily parade of dump trucks, construction equipment, engineers and government officials. The total redevelopment project will exceed $30 million and will take years. Yet that’s a small price to pay for the $40 million per year economic benefit of our local seafood industry, not even counting the recreational and public uses, that is expected to grow rapidly in the years ahead. We need to plan for increasingly hostile environmental conditions and rising tides that will soon put all of our land areas underwater at high tide.

Baysave’s role is to help coordinate the efforts of the various stakeholders. That’s not an easy job. Recent events highlight that cohesiveness is lacking and, in fact, some government agencies are actually sometimes working against each other.

trucks at Money Island

We focus our work with the various stakeholders on addressing the problems stemming from the long history of environmental injustice. The combination of neglect, local poverty, incompetence and government corruption have taken a significant toll on our community. Still, we manage to retain the title as the second most productive seafood landing port in the state with the potential of increasing economic contribution by more than tenfold over the coming decade. In order to achieve these goals, we need leadership from the top to end the infighting among government branches. That, in turn, will inspire confidence among private entities to invest in restorative and sustainable redevelopment projects here at Money Island.

These are some of the groups currently active at Money Island:

Group 1. Community redevelopment group – Our local mayor is working with a group to bring investment funds to redevelop the front end of Money Island for some public use (“Bayshore Welcome Center”) or educational use. Baysave is working directly with one University that is planning to expand its coastal resiliency program.  The mayor is working with a second University. We can offer accommodations to either one or both schools. Downe Township officials are clear that they believe that the financial survival of Downe Township may depend on favorable resolution of the Money Island issues. We encourage Mayor Campbell to continue to pursue this redevelopment option but we have not discussed any details. The mayor led the group that completed work on Stage 1 of the Money Island seawall construction two years ago. The future of Money Island quite literally depends on our ability to complete Stage 2 of the sea wall project within the next few years. Without this, we will lose use of our only roadway into the community. On Wednesday April 17 a group of high level people (two in of them in limos) arrived here to inspect the marina property. They did not, to my knowledge, look at the commercial docks.

limos at Money Island

Group 2. New Jersey Attorney General – The NJ Attorney General is working through the local Superior Courts to prosecute the individual members of the restoration coalition. There is no ‘carrot’; this is only a ‘stick’ approach. This legal action caused all of the previously approved redevelopment funding to be withdrawn and triggered the resignation of most of our Baysave board members. My initial concern was that the claims are based on faulty underlying information and misunderstandings by NJDEP staff personnel that has never been discussed in a setting that could lead to resolution. I am certain, based on conversations with the various engineers who have worked here in recent years, that some of the premises assumed by the state are incorrect. We have factual evidence of decades of errors in official documents. Unfortunately, the court process is unsuitable for local stakeholders. We cannot get fair treatment in that courtroom environment while higher powers are operating in conflict. Given the past and ongoing bad acts by some within NJDEP, it is difficult to distinguish between those who are trustworthy and the bad actors. We are advised to be patient until higher level people take control of the matter.

surveyors

Group 3. Aquaculture redevelopment group – An experienced professional group meets regularly with various departments within government and outside government and plans to invite us to a meeting soon. They have a solid proposal supported by strong economic potential.

eagle-on-A-Dock-(3).jpg

Group 4. Environmental research partnership – An environmental partnership led by The Nature Conservancy has obtained grants for ongoing research here and, right now, are the most active users of Money Island properties. They are not owners but have access to a land use agreement at no cost.

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Group 5. The oystermen – Led by the Shellfish Commission, our oystermen have been able to get necessary road repairs completed and recently gained approval for channel dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. The members have determined that our location is the best site in the state to expand oyster aquaculture but will not move forward while the state has open land use litigation based on decades’ old oversights by NJDEP. Four companies have already asked for docks for expansion after the current litigation is resolved.

oyster boat

Group 6. The crabbers – The crab industry is expanding and it’s no surprise that the older established crabbers do not welcome the younger new harvesters. Most of the new crabbers have temporarily moved away this season due to surprise prosecution by Fish and Wildlife over their cooperative marketing plan. The crabbers generally prefer to act quietly in their own interests and do not welcome the input of other stakeholders. That’s a challenge for Baysave but eventually we will accomplish our mutual goals.

crabs in basket

Group 7. The recreational marina – The marina is closed for this season. A local marina owner has agreed to combine the Money Island Marina with his other existing operation and rebuild/restore the marina with appropriate permits. That agreement is ‘on hold’ waiting for resolution of current legal issues. Various agencies and private parties have expressed willingness to invest in the project after the current legal issues are fully resolved. While recreational boating was important in the past, we expect that it will be only a small part of Money Island’s future.

dock fishing at Money Island Marina

NEW JOBS PAC

Tony Novak CPA will represent Baysave at the 2019 NEW JOBS PAC “The Voice of Business” Annual South Jersey Legislative Reception for the New Job Political Action Committee as a member of the NJCPA and supporter of its PAC. The annual event attracts local lawmakers to discuss local business and economic development opportunities and hindrances.

New Jobs PAC logo

The group focuses on legislation to improve the business climate in New Jersey by supporting pro-business political candidates. Baysave is involved in revitalization of the bayshore economy and last year received funding from the NJ Community Capital THRIVE Grant to promote the local crab industry through a multi-state marketing cooperative. That effort was stymied by legal action by state government.

Baysave is focused on spreading the word about the huge growth potential of our local aquaculture industry, especially blue claw crabs and oysters at the Delaware Bay region. Advanced and technology open the door to a tenfold increase in total seafood production in the years ahead. That growth means moe infrastructure needed, more jobs created and more tax revenue for South Jersey government.

Thoughts on lawn mowing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says 5% of air pollution is caused by lawn mowers. In general, I don’t think most people realize how much more damaging a small engine is With its emissions compared to a modern automobile.

There are demonstrated benefits of not mowing grass, especially here at the bayshore. Grass and it’s root system prevent erosion, reduce evaporation in summer, slow down storm runoff and act as a groundwater filter. Yet many communities, including our own Downe Township, have mowing requirements for land owners. Years ago I tried a re-wilding experiment at my bayside cabin. Dune grasses, bayberry shrubs and cedars dotted my former lawn. My experiment triggered a citation from the township. Now I compromise by mowing some sections and leaving others as designated erosion control zones. Big Brother seems OK with that.

I’ve used both electronic and gasoline mowers. Neither type lasts much more than two years in the salt air. Now I’m back to an electric model. Maybe I can tap into the massive expansion of solar power generation happening here in Cumberland County New Jersey.

The only decision left to make is corded or cordless? My decision came down to this:

  1. I own miles of extension cords; I don’t mind dragging one out
  2. Batteries are heavy, making the mower heavier
  3. Lithium battery technology is safe and environmentally OK
  4. Cordless are more expensive
  5. The corded one comes with a 5 year warranty.

So Baysave properties will be maintained with a new corded electronic mower in 2019.

Update on crab king case

Update on the nicknamed “crab king” case: the hearing details are changed. The information below is no longer accurate. See a more recent update.


Oral argument is scheduled Monday June 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM before Honorable Judge Joseph M. Chiarello, JSC in Court Room 235, Cumberland County Court House, Broad and Fayette Streets, Bridgeton NJ for State vs. Tony Novak, Appeal #2-19. The state will be represented by Danielle Pennino, Esq. of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. The hearing is open to the public.

Because of the case’s potential impact on the future of social media marketing of the Philadelphia region’s “farm-to-table” and “dock-to-table” grower cooperatives, I have invited inquiries for an amicus brief (friend of the court) from other similarly situated groups. So far, no response. Preparing a brief is often an expensive undertaking and I suspect that not many grower and harvester cooperatives are aware of the potential legal threat.

The core issue is whether the state has the ability to hold off-site, online marketers who are not growers, harvesters, buyers or sellers responsible for keeping physical catch records of content they sell that might be related to New jersey fisheries. The language of the statute was written long before the age of social media when the word “marketing” and “selling” had the same implication and were typically under common management control. That is no longer true today. Now in the age of networked online “sharing” of other users content these two words have entirely different meanings.  Sharing online content is not selling under most legal authorities. The goal of this legal action is to establish this as the legal standard under New Jersey fisheries management law.

The brief on behalf of Baysave’s controller Tony Novak is filed and the state has until May 28 to respond. The brief, the state’s response and the rebuttal documents will be available to the public.

Port Mahon Delaware

Sea level rise is causing erosion that has all but swallowed this once-thriving town on the shore of the Delaware Bay.

 

These pictures taken in March 2011 tell the story of the current state of Port Mahon, Delaware. Once a popular bayside community, now all that is left is a boat launch lamp accessible at low tide. At high tide the road is impassible.

Physical deterioration was evident in March at the beginning of the spring storm season. It appears that if the road is not heavily maintained, it may be completely washed away with a few months. (See the photos with broken asphalt).

water covered road in Port Mahon DE   Port Mahon DE sand over road

Port Mahon DE road erosion   building foundation at Port Mahon

Port Mahon DE roadway erosion   Port Mahon DE sand plowed to make a dune

These sobering photos were taken on March 23, 2011, on a calm overcast day with light rain. Since this was not a full moon or any other lunar cycle, I concluded that this was a normal high tide. We generally expect tide levels to increase over the spring.

Two watermen had pulled boats and were leaving Port Mahon Road as I entered. It was about an hour before high tide. I wondered if they knew that the road became impassable at high tide, but I drove ahead anyway. The deepest water was about six inches, which is about the maximum my little SUV can handle.

One the long drive back home, I reconsidered the possibilities of hardening to resist erosion (the strategy used by my local community in New Jersey) as compared to a strategic retreat (the strategy endorsed by the scientific community). My guess is that we’ll do everything possible to avoid addressing the issue in a responsible and effective manner.