"We operate under the principle that society at large is a stakeholder in the welfare of our environment and its resources.  Our love of nature motivates us to be organized, easily accessible and rooted in environmental service and literacy at our core"

Our Background:

The Sustainability Solutions Network is a federal nonprofit organization that centralizes the environmentalist community through a platform based entirely on finding and implementing solutions. The organization was conceptualized by a rather introverted, observant young woman in a Rutgers University dining hall, following the 2016 March for Science. She recalled her participation in a multitude of environmental marches, assembled for critical causes like displacing fossil fuels, preventing local fracking, or ensuring a place for science in policy, with the realization that something considerable was missing. Namely, that these demonstrations offered few specific proposals, clearly defined demands or quantitative metrics to ensure that their desperate appeals were actualized. A clear market need had presented itself, so she got to work.

She started at her university, where discussions surrounding environmental issues could be channeled into a deliberately chosen, social welfare framework. A social welfare nonprofit was visionary because of its structural comparability to imposing organizations like Planned Parenthood or the National Rifle Association. The rational was simply to represent a long-underrepresented community of individuals; activists, scholars and professionals, all dedicated to ensuring achievements in environmental sustainability.

Through this unification, the network fosters collective research into the discovery and implementation of sustainability’s brightest ideas. Our welcoming community serves those who care deeply about environmental protection, habitat welfare, research and preservation, and provides a needed platform to make their tireless efforts most effective. Because our natural environment is indispensable, universal and shared, we work to protect the environment while advancing a standard of living, through technological prowess and operational reform.

An ultimate aim of Sustainability Solutions Network is to offer the environment a seat at the table. With that, it’s educated board presents specifics, to ensure that the implementation of feasible sustainability ideas is successful. We offer specific resolutions to legislatures, followed by counter resolutions, backed by comprehensive support from our community. We operate under the principle that society at large is a stakeholder in the welfare of our environment and its resources.  Our direct services are the foundation of the Sustainability Solutions Network, and include environmental clean ups, recycling measures, habitat conservation, and low impact development projects. We are most known in the local community for our “Sundays at the Beach Program”, where we’ve collected and reprocessed thousands of dry gallons of recyclable materials from Atlantic City beaches to date.

                                                            Our Project:

The vision for our latest project is to preserve a globally significant, coastal forest to serve as a secure native habitat amongst acute industrial development. We scouted land purchasing opportunities within areas of New Jersey and chose the town of Tuckerton, based off environmental need. Through market research and inquiries sent to local realters, we’ve determined that in order to preserve secure substantive the land from commercial developers, we will need several acres. A local 68-acre sale has been deemed appropriate for restoring vital, at risk habits and reducing fragmentation. Funds will be utilized to purchase the largely undeveloped land, otherwise zoned for commercial use, on 617 Route 9 and Otis Bog Road. The property for sale is a key coastal, pine- black oak forest habitat. Under the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) the property comes with a seventy-percent coverage requirement. This means that without intervention, seventy-percent of the habitat being sold is available for development.

Our proposed project seeks to preserve this habitat instead, as well as revegetate compromised lots (revegetation plan below). An awareness regarding the benefits of green public spaces and exercise will compel the network to establish 2 trails within the property, a winding wooden walking path with native- plant gardens and a circular bike path along the pines. These features offer civic benefit and are meant to commemorate the importance of environmental protection.

The total estimated cost is 650,000 dollars from to establish this large preserve. We are asking your (FOUNNDATION/AGENCY) for the maximum award possible to facilitate this effort. Our small dedicated team of volunteers will revegetate and maintain the integrity of the property. We plan to apply for property tax exemption through the township annually. The purchase of this paramount, truly impactful preservation opportunity is contingent upon the timeline of awards in light of strong market demands.

                                                            Town History:

Tuckerton is a once quiet community nestled within the Coastal Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. It’s a quaint bay town, undergoing rapid industrial development. Known for being a nineteenth century sea port, the community has seen its share of storms, including the storm of 1927 by which the beloved Tucker’s Island Lighthouse was consumed by sea, and more recently, Superstorm Sandy; a storm which ironically paved the way for increased development from the remaining rubble along the region. The charming and industrious community boast traditional annual seaport festivals, an educational, historic maritime museum, century old root beer stands, and a brand-new Super Walmart. Incidentally, we’ve positioned our proposed project just a few miles from the superstore, in vulnerable costal forest habitat.

Once intentionally preserved Pinelands within Southern New Jersey are now framed by organizations like the Southern New Jersey Development Council as “3,700 Square Miles of Opportunity”. Within this opportunity, the Sustainability Solutions Network seeks to purchase a refuge in the center of land-grab development for Critical Pine Barrens coastal forest habitat. This proposed opportunity will have considerable support from appreciative locals, who may visit the park trails and enjoy the natural formations, and develop a historic and aesthetic appeal within the next decade.

                                                   Statement of Need:

The Pinelands of New Jersey have long been recognized for their globally unique terrestrial life and underground hydrology. The Pinelands National Preserve was the first national preserve in the United States, with status as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988. Tuckerton, like much of New Jersey is significant for biodiversity, due to the concentration of native species located within small geographic areas. Consequently, this ecologically abundant forest community is vulnerable to immense loss in flora and wildlife from urban development. Independent state studies from the Department of Environmental Protection cite development as, by far, the leading cause of species extirpation, or permeant regional population loss in the state (Extirpated populations by cause can be found in Appendix C).  Tuckerton is critically situated within the Outer Coastal Plain physiographic providence; a region with the most extant (still living) and most extirpated (regionally extinct) populations statewide.

Geological surveys by the Rutgers Bloustein School of Public Policy affirm Tuckerton borrow has approximately 10 percent forest, and the proposed property is situated within forest habitat2. When a forest is cleared away for commercial development, local wildlife lose their homes. For extant species, unyielding commercial and residential development in Tuckerton has led to the displacement of their upland habitat, now lacking adequate food or protection. Black Oak covers roughly 20 percent of the property has a high cavity value for wildlife. Deer, rabbits and meadow mice rely upon tree sprouts and seeds from cones are consumed by native quail, chickadees, juncos, and mice and red squirrels. Rare coyotes and native grey foxes depend upon this terrestrial habitat, and open branching provides perches for larger, migratory and year-round birds.

The merits of keeping a substantive parcel the prospective land undeveloped extend into New Jersey hydrology, too. Tuckerton creek is a sub watershed of the Barnegat Bay, a massive tourist attraction with clear economic influence. The health of the bay is impacted by the state of its sub watersheds. Jesses Creek, located only .3 miles from the property, feeds directly into Barnegat Bay1. The water table is also near or above the surface during some part of the year, increasing vulnerability of industrial pollution. If unchecked, impervious surfaces will allow industrial pollutants or nutrients to seep into groundwater. The proposed project is significant in its potential to maintain proper water infiltration, by preserving an upland forest with existing flora and microflora.

                                                             Project Goals:

 our goals for the preservation project are as follows:

  1. To preserve and restore native flora communities

 

Acres of particularly dense pinelands will be preserved under the project.  We have surveyed the land and identified native tree species, consistent with outer coastal pine- black oak habitat. The area will be maintained by minimal pruning and protective surveys.

 

  1. To Restore ecological connectivity

 

by preserving multiple, small areas of native environments, connected together in some fashion, the network can ensure vital Pine Barren’s habitats are less isolated from one another, to further the survival of threatened wildlife.

 

  1. To Construct walking and biking paths for the health and wellness of the community, and to ensure a sense of ecological awareness in a rapidly developing town, situated within the most densely populated state in the county.

 

  1. To gather research on optimal habitat disturbance elimination.

 

 

  1. To preserve and increase shelter and food sources for wildlife, especially endangered bird populations

 

 

  1. To maintain or further contribute, through the preservation and revegetation of coastal forests, carbon sequestration

 

  1. To improve the quality of key groundwater channels and watersheds and to alleviate non-point source pollution from surrounding shopping centers and residential development

 

                                                            Lot Plans:

The 68- acre land available is broken down into four lots; 13, 16, 18 and 19 (See Appendix A).

Lot 16: Under this proposal, lot 16 will be preserved entirely, without modifications. This lot is densely vegetated with native flora species; predominately pitch pine with black oak, some blackjack oak and various cedar shrubs consistent with uplands habitat.

Lot 18:

Although the borders of lot 18 are mostly undisturbed, a circular disturbance in the land can be seen in satellite images (Appendix A). In order to work with the existing conditions, and offer recreational opportunities within minimal environmental impact, the Sustainability Solutions Network will pave this circular area to construct a biking trail. The pathway will run in a for nearly half a mile; approximately 2,134 ft with views of the towering canopy on either side (Diameter shown on Appendix B). A separate trail for runners may be inscribed along the bike path as well.

Lot 19: The entirety of lot 19 will be preserved also, however the center of the lot will require substantial revegetation. Our revegetation plans aim to restore an ecologically proportionate balance of upland species. Much of lot 19 soil is dry and poor on hydric-mineral soils, an appropriate habitat for the principal tree species of uplands coastal forest; Pinus Rigida, or Pitch Pine. Surveys identified the presence of these evergreen belonging to the hard pine subgenus, through large twisted branches, cones that occur in near the crown, in whorls of 3-5, and needles in bundles of 3.

For best fall propagation, and to preserve the population of native species we will gather seeds from nearby closed pine cones in September, and cold stratify for 30 days. By Mid-October, we will spread small-grain straw uniformly around large openings and. sow the pines, in native dry, sandy soil (PH roughly 5.6) 1/8" deep, tamped and anchored with mulch. We are choosing to plant the seeds directly to foster the development of organic, undisturbed root systems, more resistant to rot. Although Pitch Pine can withstand salt, fire and nutrient-poor soil, they must have adequate sunlight and minimal competition from neighboring trees, so we will space species at least 30 feet apart.

Geological surveys conducted throughout January led to the identification of red-oak group vegetation, particularly black oak, through marcescent leaves. Black Oaks are deciduous, slow growers that require full sun and strongly acidic soil. Revegetating will require collecting and soaking mature acorns in early fall and sowing in full sun directly to encourage the establishment of large taproots.

Lot 13:

Unlike the others, lot 13 is barren in large expanses. Such expanses, as visible in attached satellite images (Note Appendix 3), are a result of deforestation and potential sand quarrying used for neighboring commercial operations. Beyond the short buffer of pines lining Route 9, we noted steep lowering elevation with erosion of the soil. The water table of the pinelands is characteristically low, and without the presence of root systems to absorb runoff, pocketed depressions in the center of 13 experience flooding. The proposed revegetation aims to combat deforestation and increased impervious surface runoff through practical native revegetation practices.

Our plan first anticipates that dry soil in the barren lot may have been exposed to wind and solar radiation, creating a loss in organic matter, topsoil, soil microflora and faunae, and microsites for germination and seedling establishment. Restoring suffient soil might include priming soil with neighboring organic matter to optimize cation exchange capacity. For pitch-pine specifically, the network will also consider responsibly incorporating commercial mulch and inoculum (since the depression is without slope). in a microbial approach, by using mycorrhizal inoculum from Suillus Granulatus. Mycorrhizal association with native fungi from the Ectomycorrhizae group, in small concentrations, are known to form a symbiotic relationship with the regunda roots, to improve root health, fight disease and, ideally increase uptake, as has occurred in several studies with Pitch Pine2,3,5.

To protect against wind erosion, the Sustainability Solutions Network will also construct sand fences around regrowth, to catch particles and slow down wind speed. Although temporary, the enclosures will ensure proper early growth of revegetated species. These fences may also impede ATV riders from frequenting the area.

The Sustainability Solutions Network proposes revegetating understory with scrubs where appropriate the following spring. A scenic pathway comprised of sustainable wood will wind through sections of lot 13 to showcase native ericaceous species include huckleberry, cranberry and blueberry and mountain laurel. These native Pinelands fruits, are important for bees, birds, butterflies, inspects and small mammals.

                                                            Proposed Trails  

 New Jersey boast the highest population density in the United States. It is the only state in which every county is urban (city, village or town P>2500) The effects of limited green-spaces extend to the shore and southern-most regions of the state. The proposed, community trails can increase access to critical green spaces, employing clear health benefits and a chance for visitors to reconnect with the simplicity and freedom of the outdoors. This project, by investing in green-space availability increases the visibility of preservation efforts and sustainable practices for years to come.

Our project aims to increase access to separate green spaces for the township residents while protecting wildlife. The network recognizes that a responsible project will focus on connectivity between undeveloped habitats, especially because they’ve grown fewer, so that each crucial habitat is not isolated from the other. Upholding connectivity in any developed space is crucial for providing wildlife with routes that reconcile human impact.

                                                     Site Maintenance:

If awarded the grant to purchase the preserve, a substantive portion of our yearly budget will be allocated to habitat disturbance prevention and basic operational maintenance, like bike trail upkeep and pruning.

The network may work with Tuckerton’s fire department and our network of scientists to facilitate, small- controlled burns, considering the Pine Barrens require regular burn to fertilize soil.  The resulting burn leaves phosphates, nitrogen and sulfates line the soil that help grow new life, and is particularly integral in the landscape for serotinous cones. Lower intensity, surface fires may benefit even lesser- tolerant species to remove spring pests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            Appendices

A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                           

                                                            Ecological Survey

 

 

Habitat: UPL; Pine-Black Oak Forest,                                                                          characterized by mostly pitch pine (FACU) and some Black Oak (UPL)

Lot 18 Sample Taken Jan 12, 2019

 

Quercus Velutina (black oak): medium to large tree                                                                      of dry, acidic sites. Note the sample 7 irregular bristle-tipped                                                       lobes with comparatively shallow indentations on lower lobes.

Wetland Indicator Status: UPL

Lot 19 Sample Taken January 27, 2019

 

 

 

 

Juniperus Virginiana (eastern red-cedar): evergreen tree                                                                of well drained sites. Occur in whorls of 3                                                                            Wetland Indicator Status: FACU

Samples Taken January 12, 2019 and January 27, 2019, respectively

 

 

 

                                                            References:

  1. Barnegat Bay Partnership. Tuckerton Creek Watershed. (2019).

  2. Cumming, Jonathan. (1996). Phosphate-limitation physiology in ectomycorrhizal pitch pine (Pinus rigida) seedlings. Tree physiology. 16. 977-983.

  3. Gucker, Corey L. 2007. Pinus rigida. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

  4. Mccormick, J. (1979). The Vegetation of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Pine Barrens, 229-243.

  5. New Jersey Mycological Association. (2016) Forays by Location

  6. Pinelands Nursery. (2013). Trees & Shrubs Species.

Excerpts:

from our Tuckerton preservation grant