Cape wineries, oystermen ponder a partnership

Two of Cape May County’s gourmet industries are considering a partnership to expand their reach to customers across America. The county’s wineries are so distinctive they’re pursuing their own regional brand called the Cape May Peninsula. Meanwhile, Cape May Salts and other county oyster brands are enjoyed on the half-shell by foodies as far away as California….[Gustavo] Calvo’s wife, Lisa Calvo, works as aquaculture program coordinator for the Rutgers Haskin Shellfish Research Lab in Middle Township. She said consumers are taking more interest in how and where their food is grown. As with wine, oysters have a unique regional flavor, she said. Food-lovers call this regional identification by taste "merroir."

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Release project in Cape helps horseshoe crab hatchlings avoid predators

You could call it a Head Start program for horseshoe crabs. Normally the crabs have a tough learning curve. They are born on the sandy Delaware Bay coast, the largest breeding ground in the world for the species, and predators immediately try to eat them…A Rutgers University project at its Aquaculture Innovation Center on the Cape May Canal is giving some of the young crabs a three-month head start in life…"We’ve released 50,000 to 75,000 a year. It can make a difference because they’re so susceptible to predation. Striped bass, bluefish and other finfish feast on young-of-the-year crabs," said Michael De Luca, a director at the university’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

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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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Delays in cleaning Forsythe could lead to environmental problems, scientist warns

Delays in cleaning up Hurricane Sandy debris at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge could create environmental problems there, a Rutgers University scientist said. Household chemicals have been found during an ongoing Fish and Wildlife Service-funded cleanup at the refuge. The cleanup was expected to have been finished by now but will not be completed until at least the fall, refuge Manager Virginia Rettig said…Household chemicals are a troubling thing for a natural environment such as a salt marsh at the refuge, said Michael Kennish, a research professor for the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. "It’s very difficult to get chemicals out of the sediments and to get the habitat cleaned out," he said.

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It’s sneezing season: With pollen levels likely to be high this year, allergy sufferers prepare for the worst

Elise Waldman, of Linwood, lives her life, but her allergies don’t make it easy. Every day, all year long, Waldman takes the over-the-counter medication Zyrtec for her hay fever and allergy symptoms. She doesn’t open the windows at her home. Shoes are left at the door from the spring through the fall. Waldman does a great deal of gardening, but the clothes go straight to the washing machine afterward…Pollen counts at the beginning of April 2012 reached 4,500 per cubic meter of air, higher than in recent years, said Leonard Bielory, director of STARx Allergy and Asthma Center. LLC, and professor, Rutgers University, Center for Environmen-tal Prediction. A pollen count is the number of grains of pollen collected during a 24-hour period in a cubic meter of air. Last year’s high was on May 6 with 10,930 grains per cubic meter of air, Bielory said.

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Ocean County seeks $2 million for Barnegat Bay water treatment

A $2 million portable stormwater treatment system could be the latest tool to protect the steadily declining health of Barnegat Bay. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has submitted a grant application to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for $2 million to fund the system, which would provide onsite treatment of water removed from storm drains…"Any effort by the county to address the problems in stormwater basins and drainage pipes is a good thing, but it is not a remedy for the nitrogen in Barnegat Bay," said Michael Kennish, a research professor with the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. But Kennish said that what is predominantly causing the bay’s decline is the nitrogen eutrophication of the waterway.

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