The Garden Club of LBI’s Environmental Chair, Mary Wilding, updates members each month on such important topics as seismic testing, fracking, plastic pollution, sea-level changes, and other threats to our environment.

Mary goes to great lengths to raise our awareness of threats to the environment, even becoming a “Bag Lady,” which means donning a suit of plastic bags–made from the exact number each of us discards every year. Mary also solicits volunteers for local clean-up projects that keep our island safe and beautiful.

 A Plastic Ocean

The Garden Club of Long Beach Island has been excited to be able to provide the film A Plastic Ocean, an epic global adventure following a world record free diver and the film maker as they travel through our oceans over a period of four years. International scientists reveal the causes and consequences of plastic pollution and discuss solutions. 

The free screening was initially shown after Long Beach Township, N.J. passed the first single-use plastic bag ban on Long Beach Island.  The intent of the Environmental Committee of the Garden Club in showing the film was to provide graphic images of why the ban on bags is the right thing to do and raise awareness of the extent of plastic pollution.  After supporting the Stafford screening in June, the film was shown over the summer of 2018 on Long Beach Island in Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Loveladies and Ship Bottom.  After seeing the film, members of the audience from Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor asked for the Garden Club’s assistance in showing the film in their area and it was shown August 30, 2018.

Mary Wilding and Kyle Gronostajski, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Living Ocean, as The Bag Monster

Prior to the film, the audience is introduced to The Bag Monster who is a mass of  approximately 375 single-use plastic bags – the conservative average number used by each of us each year. This number of bags equals 100 billion for the United States or one trillion worldwide. Of that total, it is estimated only five percent are recycled. Eliminating single-use plastic bags is one step in reducing plastic pollution, but the need to reduce all plastic, especially single-use plastic, is evident in the film.

Several environmental organizations such as Alliance for a Living Ocean, Clean Ocean Action, ReClam the Bay and others, provided information about their efforts. It is hoped members of the audience will support the ban on single-use bags, make the change to reusable cloth or non-woven polypropylene bags and also find other ways to reduce consumption of  single-use plastic items.  Since 80 percent of the plastic pollution in the ocean comes from the land, there are actions each of us can take to make a difference.

Many Garden Club members baked, were hostesses, and reached out to their Tax Payers or Home Owners Associations, friends and family to spread the word of the screenings.  Pat Morgan  donated beautiful framed paintings to be raffled off at the screenings. Lois Perry and her assistants provided activities for the children in the audience including use of the book Sea Change which introduces children to the idea that the individual does their part in creating sea change that will  make a positive difference in the marine life.

The last showing will be on October 20, 2018 at the Ship Bottom Fire House and will follow the annual Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweep, coordinated by Alliance for A Living Ocean on Long Beach Island.  The Beach Sweep will take place between 9:00 and 12:00 and the screening will begin at 12:00 PM on that Saturday.   We hope everyone who hasn’t seen the film will attend and also join in the clean-up effort.

It really does take a village to pull off this kind of a project and just demonstrated what can be done when a group of dedicated women put their mind to making a difference! Hats off to you all, especially Environmental Committee members Michele Farias, Kathy Gronostajski, Teresa Hagan, Gillian Rozicer and Brenda Swissman..

 Single-use plastic bag ban

On Monday, August 27, 2018, Governor Murphy rejected the bag fee. I want you to know that pressure from groups and from individuals like you, who called, signed petitions and urged that he not sign the bill as written payed off big time.

Now the effort will be directed to creating a bill that will be accepted and will have components to most effectively reduce plastic pollution.

 2018 Barnegat Bay Day

Barnegat Bay Day couldn’t have been more successful, especially since it was the Garden Club’s first time! There were waiting lines at our station for the kids to decorate paper cups, fill them with stones, soil and seeds–milkweed, naturally! More than 40 children participated!

Our volunteers (Maryann Chatfield, Karen Martinez, Pam Masturzo and Pat Seith) were natural teachers. They not only explained the monarch’s life cycle, but showed the kids live caterpillars and a chrysalis. The adult monarch was a replica, of course!

Gillian Rozicer, pictured below center left, organized the event and was on hand with coloring books and recycled plastics to help the children create a fish sculpture.

Mary Wilding was a hit as the “Bag Monster,” dressed in 375 plastic bags in sweltering heat and Ms. Monarch (aka, Teresa Hagan) was there, too, working the crowds.

The Garden Club received so many compliments and we should all be so proud! It was a fantastic outreach. Thanks to all. And a special shout-out to Kyle Gronostajski, head of Alliance for a Living Ocean, who organized the entire event.


Teresa Hagan as Ms Monarch


 Beach Sweeps

October 20, 2018 Beach Sweeps
The October 20, 2018 Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweep that Kyle Gronostajski of Alliance for a Living Ocean is overseeing on Long Beach Island will be coordinated with our screening of “A Plastic Ocean”.  There will be a Beach Sweep sign-up  location at Wally’s in Surf City where information about the screening will  be posted; and there will be a sign-up at the Ship Bottom Fire House where the screening will take place.   Folks returning from the Beach Sweep are invited to come to the Ship Bottom Fire House for  light refreshments and environmental information  at 11:30 and the film will start at 12:00.  All are welcome to the free event.
April 21, 2017 Beach Sweeps

Under the direction of Mary Wilding, Environmental Chair, Garden Club members participated in the 33nd Annual Statewide Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps on Saturday April 21st.  Our group included Mary Wilding, Maryann Chatfield, Marlena Christensen,  JoAnne McKee, Jeannette Michelson and Ginny Scarlatelli. The ladies worked to make a difference for clean water and the environment by sweeping clean the dyke beach at High Bar Harbor.

The most frequently found article was the plastic cap – we counted 110, but I’ll bet we collected many more. It was great to only find 1 cigarette butt and only 14 plastic bottles, but there were 7 balloons and lots and lots of small plastic pieces…..many too disintegrated to even pick up – microplastics in the making! We lost count and had difficulty even identifying the original source of the pieces. Here are the number and percentage in each of the categories but we know the Plastics category is under-reported:

Plastics 280 = 79.8% Metal 24 = 6.8%
Glass 5 = 1.4 Wood 25 = 7.1
Balloons/Rubber 9= 2.6 Cloth 8 = 2.3 .

Southern Pine Beetle

On to the southern pine beetle that is leaving more and more pine trees as brown, lifeless forms on LBI. Angela Andersen advised on 9/8/17 “ The report from the forester was not specific to beetles but more of an overall management plan for plantings /trees in LBT for town properties – We are still looking to experts for guidance but think it seems pretty clear we need to revegetate as the trees die.”

In speaking to the Agricultural Agent at Rutgers, Richard Vanranken, he provided a website with the following information: The Southern pine beetle is one of the most destructive forest insects, is smaller than a grain or rice, feeds on living tissue under the tree’s bark and is a considerable threat to our state’s forest resource. It re-entered the state in 2001 and since then has been on the rise. In 2008, it crossed the Egg Harbor River, entered forests in Atlantic County and moved north and west…including LBI. The tree crown shows the first signs of infestation when it rapidly turns from healthy green to yellow, red and finally brown as the tree stops circulating water.

Southern Pine Beetle

It also states you can reduce the risk of outbreaks. Trees under stress become susceptible to the beetle while healthy, strong trees resist attacks. Ben Wurst of Conserve Wildlife provided a website, https://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/plantandpestadvisory/2011/ln092211.pdf) and quoted the last paragraph,

“Since pine wilt disease is more prevalent in trees (especially older ones) suffering from abiotic stresses, the maintenance of plant vigor through proper pruning, irrigation, and fertility is of primary importance. Healthy trees are also less susceptible to invasion by beetles. Routine, prompt removal of dead and dying plant material will reduce populations of both the nematode and its beetle vector.” “Abiotic” which I had to look up, means non-living chemical and physical parts of the environment that affect living organisms such as drought and lack of nitrogen. So it sounds like fertilizing your healthy pines and caring for them would be helpful.

I am waiting to hear back from an arborist who worked with both Rutgers University and NJ Department of Environmental Protection in Atlantic County about what they found was most effective, as well as a representative of the State Forestry Program in Trenton for additional information.

A workshop regarding pine wilt is being planned by Ben Wurst for the Spring at Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. The workshop is tentatively planned for March 2019.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The tricolored blackbird has declined by over 50% since 1970.
Photo: Alan Schmierer

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is intended to protect over 1,000 species from removal or extermination. “The act was passed after the massive decline of many birds in the late 19th and early 20th century; the act curbed overhunting and the unregulated commercial trade in bird feathers.  The challenges birds face have changed over the years, but the act, which turns 100 years old this year, has a long history of protecting species from avoidable harm.

The U.S. has an incredible variety of birds, ranging from tiny hummingbirds to the giant California condor. Worldwide there are eleven thousand different species of birds, and, excluding Hawaii and Alaska, the U.S. hosts 951 species – eleven of which are found nowhere else in the world!  Unfortunately, on the 100 year anniversary of The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the safeguards are at risk.  this comes at a time when  At least 40 percent of bird species worldwide (3,967 species) have declining populations. Since the year 1500, at least 161  species have gone extinct in the wild, while an additional 22 species are categorized as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).”

The National Wildlife Federation asks that we call on our members of Congress to keep protections strong under the Act.  To read more about this act, you can click on http://blog.nwf.org/2018/07/100-years-strong-protecting-the-future-of-the-migratory-bird-treaty-act/?s_email_id=20180714_MEM_ENG_WLO_Edition|MTMemAct    or go directly to the following website  which provides a summary and opportunity to take action go to https://online.nwf.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2525&_ga=2.257740235.1304037620.1531946550-1894315755.1529284800.   Please take a minute to make your voice heard regarding this long-standing protection.

The Endangered Species Act

The Sierra Club has asked us to contact Secretary Ryan Zinke asking the Endangered Species Act (ESA) remain in tact.  “It is one of the most effective environmental policies in American history with 99 percent of species listed recovering in their designated timeline.”

Three proposed rule changes would “weaken protections for vulnerable “threatened” species, remove opportunities for public input and make it harder to hold wildlife agencies accountable for their actions. These changes are clearly designed to make it easier for pipelines, roads, and even drilling and fracking projects to gain speedy approvals.”  You can add your name to Sierra Club’s request not to destroy the ESA by going to https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/National?actionId=AR0119564&id=7010Z000002B1ANQA0&data=ce8ea67170db396344d2de2322b1521cc9132dc6a4a23395b11c488c1e419a7aff8e347b1259c2d8ddafa895f257de84&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sierraclub&utm_campaign=ourwildamerica.   Please take just a minute to do so.

An Additional Bill That Requires Attention

The Delaware Water Gap

One of the most important public parks programs — the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)  is moving closer to its expiration date.  Join in a nationwide campaign to ask members of congress to permanently reauthorize the LWCF to reauthorize the program and provide  full and dedicated funding. LWCF has protected spaces in New Jersey like the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Pinelands National Reserve, and local parks and playgrounds in our towns and cities.  You can protect our parks by speaking out and going to: https://ourlandsourvoice.lcv.org/nj-lcv?sc=njlcv

Last year, Congress invested in a new on-the-ground conservation effort, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. The program helps to protect the basin’s 400 miles of designated National Wild and Scenic River, extensive forest, and 700,000 acres of wetland habitat.  You can tell our members of Congress to preserve this critical area for future generations by going to: https://act.audubon.org/onlineactions/gEXfgWOQ3kO1_asVKAakNw2?ms=policy-adv-email-ea-x-20180813_nas_debasin_alert&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180813_nas_debasin_alert&emci=6dbda33d-bdb6-e811-bce7-000d3a12b7e6&emdi=5088f83a-78b7-e811-bce7-000d3a12b7e6&ceid=754592&smartlinkdata=JmZuPU1hcnkmbG49V2lsZGluZyZlbT1tY3dpbGRpbmclNDBnbWFpbC5jb20mYWRkMT03K0dsb3VjZXN0ZXIrQXZlKyZjaT1IYXJ2ZXkrQ2VkYXJzJnN0PU5KJnBjP

Mary Wilding, Environmental Committee Chair