Barnegat Bay / Follow the science

In a perverse way, it’s a shame all threats to New Jersey’s all-important tourism economy can’t be as big and impossible-to-miss as Hurricane Sandy. State officials had to respond to Sandy’s destruction in a big way, and they did…Unfortunately, that doesn’t make one serious threat – the deterioration of Barnegat Bay – any less real. It just makes officials more reluctant to act. Last week, a Rutgers University professor tried to make that threat a little more visible. Michael Kennish, a professor of estuarine and marine ecology, presented his data – and a call to action – to a joint session of the Senate and Assembly environmental committees.

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Gypsy moths, destroyer of forests, virtually gone in South Jersey

The gypsy moths that destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of thousands of acres of trees throughout the state for about a century have virtually disappeared in South Jersey. An aerial survey performed in June and earlier this month showed evidence of gypsy moths in only 76 acres in Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties, according to the state Department of Agriculture…Still, officials at Rutgers University’s Department of Entomology warn that the decline in gypsy moth numbers could spike in the future based on a number of variables. For instance, there could be significant regional outbreaks as the gypsy moths migrate through the state, said James Lashomb, a entomology department professor.

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Cleanup finished at north end of Forsythe refuge, but work goes on in Stafford

A cleanup of Hurricane Sandy debris in the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge will extend into the fall after more debris was found than anticipated, officials said…Refuge Manager Virginia Rettig told the Press in May that chemicals found on the refuge include window cleaner, bleach, solvents, paints and stains, paint strippers, weed killers and insecticides. Mike Kennish a research professor for the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University cautioned against leaving these items in the refuge. Kennish warned that toxic substances and chemicals could infiltrate the food chain and kill marsh grasses, and organisms could pick up the substances and bring them into the salt marsh habitat.

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New Jersey peach crop arriving late but with top quality fruit

Jersey peaches are being shipped to market, a little late but in time for peach parties and pie contests around the state…The crop was slow to develop thanks to a particularly cold winter. But adequate rainfall and lots of sunny weather has meant top quality fruit, said Jerry Frecon, a retired agricultural agent and professor emeritus at Rutgers University, who is a consultant for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council.

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Smallest farms becoming rarer in New Jersey

Strings dangling from a greenhouse-like tunnel dance when a breeze blows through Shirley Kline’s small farm, a wisp of rural beauty in a cantaloupe patch. The moment is not lost on the world-traveled farmer of 6 acres in Stow Creek Township, Cumberland County. "If you don’t take pleasure in being out here and working and getting your hands dirty, this isn’t the life for you," she said. Kline represents a dwindling portion of New Jersey agriculture – the smallest acreage farms…Richard VanVranken, Atlantic County’s agricultural agent with Rutgers University, said those five years measured in the latest census were tough for agriculture. "The last couple of years had turned around and were quite good, but the previous five years were tough, with low prices in markets for vegetables and gluts in the market," he said.

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