Autumn, 2020
A Newsletter for Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists, Barnegat Bay Partner Organizations, and Watershed Enthusiasts
Welcome to the BBVMN Newsletter!

Welcome to our first Newsletter created for and by Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists! The goal of this publication is to keep BBVMNs connected to each other and to the many wonderful organizations whose mission is to protect and conserve the beautiful natural resources in the Barnegat Bay watershed. In this Newsletter you can read about volunteer experiences of your fellow BBVMNs, learn about volunteer opportunities with watershed Partners, and engage your interests and passions in the natural world.

BBVMNs Steer the Ship in the Barnegat Bay Watershed!
Our intention is to offer a quarterly, seasonal Newsletter. But we can't do it without your support. The Barnegat Bay Partnership is grateful for the volunteer assistance from a team of BBVMNs who have offered their time and expertise gathering information and compiling the text and photos to create this first edition: Rich Biolsi, Christine Moran, Carolann Murphy and Sarah Stewart. We also appreciate the articles contributed by BBVMNs Don Crawford and Jason Hafstad.

We welcome and encourage you to send us a story and photos describing your volunteer experiences; share discoveries you made on a walk in the woods; send us your curiosity questions about the natural world; and share with us your ideas on how to build and grow this Newsletter. In addition, we have yet to come up with an official name for this publication. Please email your Newsletter name suggestions, as well as your inquiries, your stories and your curiosities to Becky Laboy

Stay Connected through Facebook
In addition to this Newsletter, you can connect with your fellow BBVMNs through the Barnegat Bay Master Naturalists Facebook group. All are welcome - whether you are a current BBVMN, an "inactive" BBVMN, or are thinking about joining our growing ranks, please join our Barnegat Bay Master Naturalists Facebook group and share your experiences with the natural world in the Barnegat Bay watershed. Barnegat Bay watershed Partners are also encouraged to join the Barnegat Bay Master Naturalists Facebook group and advertise your volunteer opportunities, or share the latest news from your organization.

Thank you for Your Service!
The Barnegat Bay Partnership would like to thank all of our wonderful Barnegat Bay Volunteer Master Naturalists for your time, dedication and extraordinary efforts to help educate our community and protect and conserve the natural resources in the Barnegat Bay watershed. We appreciate your continued efforts through these unprecedented times!

Becky Laboy, BBVMN Instructor
Karen Walzer, BBVMN Administrator
Wild About Jersey-Friendly Yards Webinar Series
Loss of natural habitat throughout the world has led to serious declines in populations of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. By gardening for wildlife in our yards, we can help reverse this trend. Watch this series of Jersey-Friendly webinars to find out how to create a yard that is inviting to wildlife, based on the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard

Introduction to Jersey-Friendly Yards Karen Walzer, Barnegat Bay Partnership, and Becky Laboy, Ocean County Soil Conservation District (Password: Wildwebinar1)
The Buzz With Bees, Native and Managed Pollinators Mike Haberland, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (Password: Wildwebinar2)
Plant This, Not That: Deer Resistant Native Plant Alternatives for Invasive Species Dr. Mike Van Clef, Invasive Species Strike Team of New Jersey (Password: Wildwebinar3)
Attracting Birds to Your Jersey-Friendly Yard Becky Laboy, Ocean County Soil Conservation District (Password: Wildwebinar4)
Wild About Composting Sandra Blaine-Snow, Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management (Password: Wildwebinar5)
Ask a Barnegat Bay Scientist Webinar Series
Curious about what scientists are studying in the Barnegat Bay and what they’re finding? Listen to live recordings of Ask a Barnegat Bay Scientist programs offered through BBP's webinar series this past summer. Learn about their research and how you can offer your time as a volunteer. For more information, visit our Ask a Barnegat Bay Scientist webpage.

Don’t Harass the Seagrass! Dr. Elizabeth Lacey, Stockton University (Password: Seagrass2020)
Tuckerton Oyster Reef Dr. Christine Thompson, Stockton University (Password: Oysters2020)
The Turtle Truth About Barnegat Bay’s Diamondback Terrapins Dr. John Wnek, Project Terrapin (Password: Terrapins2020)
Rutgers Fisheries and Aquaculture Programs
New Jersey's marine ecosystems provide food, recreation, and employment for our residents. Managing these ecosystems to reinvigorate and sustain New Jersey's finfish and shellfish fisheries is a task that takes place from the water's edge to beyond the continental edge. Rutgers’ New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) conducts research to inform sustainable management of these resources and develop innovative technologies. NJAES is engaged in educating residents about species and habitats in our surrounding waters, as well as providing hands-on opportunities to restore and enhance shellfish populations, improve coastal habitats, and protect resources along our shorelines. The experiment station has made strategic investments in the culture of shellfish and finfish, as well as training and outreach on species of commercial, recreational, and ecological importance to New Jersey. Its programs for the development and enhancement of aquaculture and sustainable fisheries across New Jersey help to strengthen our marine environment and economy. Visit Rutgers website to learn more about Rutgers Fisheries and Aquaculture programs.
Teach at the Beach
Join New Jersey Marine Educators Association for their first ever "virtual" Teach at the Beach! This years Teach at the Beach aims to provide you with resources, interesting and exciting topics, and open discussion with colleagues and speakers from all around the country. Registration is open - learn more and reserve your spot today.
Barnegat Bay Partnership
Invasive Species Removal Stewardship Project
John C. Bartlett, Jr. County Park, formerly, Berkeley Island County Park, located in Bayville, was pummeled by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Eight years later, Ocean County Parks and Recreation continue restoration efforts with the goal of stabilizing the shoreline. Through grant funding a “living shoreline” was established along much of the perimeter of the park. Spartina grasses were planted to build sediment, control erosion and create a buffer between the tidal wave action and the higher land relief. Above the Spartina on the upland portion of the vegetated buffer, native trees, shrubs and perennials were planted or encouraged. However, over the past few years, non-native and invasive species have encroached on this area. The goal of this stewardship project is to remove the invasive species, and allow the native species a chance to move-in and take hold again.
On October 10, several BBVMNs and volunteers joined in to help remove Mugwort, Chinese Bushclover, Phragmites and other stubborn invasives. This tremendous team completed a large portion of the project. One more day is set aside to finish. Join us on October 17, from 9am-12pm, to tackle the remaining areas targeted for invasive species removal. Contact Karen Walzer for details:
Common Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
This fast growing, sun-loving plant will quickly invade woodland edges, fields, disturbed sites and your lawn! It forms colonies through underground rhizomes and creates large patches. In the fall, small yellow-brown flowers bloom on tall panicles; it readily reseeds. Luckily, it is relatively easily to remove by hand-pulling it out by the roots, especially when young.
Chinese Bushclover (Lespedeza cuneata)
This tenacious plant was introduced to the Untied States from Asia in the 1800's by government agencies for use in bank stabilization, erosion control, mine reclamation and soil improvement. Birds eat and disperse the seeds, allowing plants to invade new areas. It now occurs throughout much of the eastern US. It invades meadows, prairies, woodlands and wetlands borders.
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)
This invasive wetland perennial grass outcompetes native plants and displaces native animals. It dominates the Atlantic coast where few native Phragmites populations (Phragmites australis subsp. americanus) are found. We will remove it by cutting it to the ground. It will take several attempts to control its growth, and may require the application of herbicides by Park staff in the future.
Volunteer Opportunities in the Watershed
Volunteer opportunities are understandably limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Barnegat Bay Partnership lifted its annual 40-hour requirement for BBVMNs to maintain their BBVMN status. However, there are some organizations in the Barnegat Bay watershed where you can safely offer your time and efforts to help out, as you feel comfortable. Click below to view some of the opportunities available now or coming soon. Also, explore the BBP Partners page to find volunteer opportunities near you. **While some of these programs may cover the entire state, only volunteer hours provided within the Barnegat Bay watershed (most of Ocean County and portions of southern Monmouth County) can be counted for BBVMN hours, once the 40-hour requirement is in place again, after the pandemic.
Monarch Waystation
by Don Crawford, BBVMN, 2015

This May, I decided to create a Monarch Waystation in my yard. It's a great way to help Monarch Butterflies along as they migrate and breed. The area I selected is in full sun, so I ordered three types of milkweed from a nearby nursery that were best suited for my sun and soil. They were Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra). I bought ten plants total and got some extras from a friend. They arrived as small seedlings but rapidly grew up to about 12 inches and taller. 
Soon after they were planted, we began noticing Monarchs fluttering around and laying eggs under the leaves. I was really surprised with how easy it was. Instead of leaving the eggs, we clipped the leaves containing them from the stem and brought them indoors to hatch and watch the caterpillars grow. Luckily, I was able to find other milkweed plants growing in a patch nearby, and I picked leaves from them to feed to the caterpillars. They grew larger each day until they began to hang from the top screen of our butterfly tent in a "J" shape, and form a chrysalis.
About a week to ten days later, Monarchs began to emerge from their chrysalises and we set them free to drink nectar from the flowers in the yard. It became a cycle where we would clip the eggs from the plants in the yard, grow them inside and set them free. It's not too much work, and it's a lot of fun to watch them munch on leaves and grow. When the season is finished, we will have reared over 100 healthy adults. Now we have several Monarchs that frequent the yard, and many nice comments from the neighbors and more people who are curious about creating their own Monarch Waystations, too! The two best resources I found for information were a YouTube channel called MrLundScience that covers many aspects of growing Milkweed and raising Monarchs, and the Monarch Watch website where I registered my yard and received a really cool sign to display. Additional Monarch resources include: NRCS Monarch Butterfly, Xerces Society Eastern Monarch Conservation, and Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Program.
BBVMNs are "Paddling for the Edge" by Don Crawford, BBVMN, 2015

Summer is the time for the Jersey Shore to really shine! It's the season to watch everything that makes our watershed special really come to life. July is when I volunteer for one of my most favorite projects - Paddle 4 the Edge!
This is a mapping project organized by the Barnegat Bay Partnership to create a database of conditions along the entire shoreline of the Barnegat Bay. Each July, volunteers are assigned to collect data about a specific part of the shoreline within the Barnegat Bay watershed. We have a month to kayak or canoe there and make observations every 100 feet about the conditions we see. All data is easily submitted to BBP through an app on my smart phone.
I've been fortunate enough to participate in this project every year since the beginning. It's a fun challenge where I get to experience everything that I love about the Barnegat Bay. Fields of green marsh grass, paddling the salty water, Willets calling, Diamondback Terrapins diving, Oystercatchers resting on the shoreline and stingrays as big as pizzas swimming along. Paddle 4 the Edge is truly a fun and worthwhile project, and I hope you can join me on the Barnegat Bay, paddling for the edge, next July!

Learn more on BBP's Paddle for the Edge webpage. To get on the email list to become a volunteer, contact Shannon at
Dune Reindeer Lichen
by Jason Hafstad, BBVMN, 2017

As summer slowly fades into fall, as birds embark on their long journeys south, and plants fade into dormancy, Master Naturalists find themselves yearning for opportunities for exploration and study. Fortunately, the natural world provides a bounty of species to satisfy our addictions during the cold and unforgiving winters. Lichens are one such example. These venerable elders blanket the landscape of our watershed, begging for our attention and appreciation.

Lichens are a composite organism of a fungus and either an alga or cyanobacteria. The fungal partner provides structure and protection from the elements, and the alga or cyanobacteria provides photosynthetic sugars. Neither partner can survive on their own. Lichens are classified according to their fungal component; a single species of fungus can pair up with multiple different algae across its range to form the same lichen. But lichens can have more than just two species living together, they typically provide habitat for many other species. Lichen microfauna include nematodes, tardigrades, and rotifers. Some caterpillars also feed exclusively on lichens and birds use them for building their nests. And when you consider the total biomass they comprise within larger landscapes, they can play an important role in water and nutrient cycling.

New Jersey’s lichen flora is still in dire need of study. Estimates suggest we have at least 500 species, though the actual number is likely at least twice that. Many species were first and last documented in the 1800s before unregulated industries polluted our air. Lichens obtain nutrients directly out of the air, but this also leaves them vulnerable to air pollutants like sulfur dioxide emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Widespread logging of our forests during the 18th and 19th centuries also greatly impacted lichen populations. As a result, many species of lichens in New Jersey are now thought to be locally extinct.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection does not award regulatory protections to lichens, or even track their status and trends. Legislation would be required to give the Department the statutory authority to protect lichens. Thus, we unfortunately do not have any State Endangered lichens in New Jersey, though many are deserving of such status. One such lichen is Cladonia submitis, commonly referred to as Dune Reindeer Lichen, Beach Broccoli, or the Mid-Atlantic Comb-over. Despite being globally rare, this lichen is fairly common in our watershed. In fact, one of the healthiest populations in the world can be found right here at Island Beach State Park.

It’s no secret that the dune systems in New Jersey suffered greatly during the 20th century. Much of New Jersey’s coastline once looked like modern-day Island Beach State Park. As roads and trains brought developmental pressures to our coastal areas, dunes were bulldozed and replaced with summer homes. Fortunately, we still have a few open space areas like Island Beach State Park that contain the old-growth dunes needed to sustain large populations of this lichen.

Because of this loss of coastal dune habitat, and coupled with its restricted geographical range, Beach Broccoli has been proposed for addition to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, a global initiative to inventory the conservation status of species around the world. The core of Beach Broccoli’s distribution extends from coastal Massachusetts down to New Jersey. The largest populations are found on the dune systems of the barrier islands, but smaller populations can also be found throughout the Pine Barrens.

New Jersey has several species of Reindeer Lichens that can be confused with Cladonia submitis without careful examination. Cladonia subtenuis, Cladonia dimorphoclada, Cladonia arbuscula, Cladonia stellaris, and Cladonia rangiferina all superficially look like Beach Broccoli, and some can co-occur within the same areas. But, next time you drive down Island Beach State Park, look to your left and right, and intermixed with Beach Heather in the dune openings you are likely to see this unobtrusive friend.
iNaturalist is a citizen science app designed to share nature with the global community. Use it to identify species, keep track of your sightings, and learn about nature. It's handy for a bio blitz and offers data for scientists to track species occurrence.
The aim of EarthNow is for you to experience Earth's beauty and fragility, and to recognize the importance of being good Earth stewards. EarthNow offers you the ability to see almost anywhere on Earth in "true real-time." Track large whales as they migrate, watch as a volcano instantly erupts, and more!
Pl@ntNet is a citizen science project available as an app that helps you identify plants through your photos. This project is part of the Floris'Tic initiative.
Are You a Bird Brain?
How's your bird ID skills? Can you identify the three birds below? How about bird songs? After you determine the birds' identity, match each bird to its song. Click to listen to each song. (Scroll to the end of the Newsletter for answers.)

I may be small, but my bold voice carries my melodic song across the yard.
A ground forager, I hop around in understory thickets looking for food.
My colorful wing pattern screams my name. I perch on bending cattails in wetlands.
Or a Botanical Genius?
Perhaps plants are more your speed! Can you identify the three specimens below? (Scroll to the end of the Newsletter for answers.)
Along with the blueberry and cranberry, I am a member of the Heath family; my berries are eaten by birds and small animals; I have a wintergreen scent and taste; my leaves can be used to make tea.
I can be a large shrub or small tree; I'm found growing in swamps and along streams and river banks; I form catkins in the spring; my smooth bark is used to make medicinal tea, which has an astringent taste.
I am a tall deciduous tree; I have deeply cut leaves with bristle-tipped pointy lobes; my genus contains numerous species native to NJ; my leaves turn a brilliant red color in autumn; my 1/2 -1 inch capped acorns are food for wildlife.
Science Leads Our Learning
Barnegat Bay Watershed Species
Fish, birds, reptiles, crabs, clams and more - learn about the diverse species that live in the Barnegat Bay watershed, through BBP's Species Database.

All About the Ocean
Get the facts about our ocean and coasts through NOAA's National Ocean Service Ocean Facts web page.
Answers to Bird Brain: A. Carolina Wren, B. White-throated Sparrow, C. Red-winged Blackbird
Answers to Botanical Genius: Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata), Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)
Ocean County College, College Drive,
PO Box 2001,Toms River, NJ 08754
Phone (732) 255-0472 Fax (732) 255-0358