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.

Hooked On Fishing

On Saturday, August 10, 2019, two of our club members, Gillian Rozicer and Mary Wilding, staffed a display table at the Hooked on Fishing event in Harvey Cedars and provided information on plastic pollution and the spotted lanternfly.  Hooked on Fishing is a free surf-fishing event for kids ages 5 to 17. It featured casting instruction (with some loaner rods, bait and tackle provided), lunch, prizes and a raffle.  A high school student volunteered to be the Plastic Bag Monster and the folks attending were amazed to see how many bags per person are used annually.  Support for the plastic bag ban and use of reusable bags was expressed. The kids signed pledges to personally help reduce plastic pollution.  Several spoke about the activities they will be undertaking in the future such as a composting effort in school, coordinating the collection of plastic bottle caps, participating in an effort to collect recyclable bottles to be reused to fabricate benches, etc.  Information was also provided on the spotted lanternfly.  The lanternfly is an invasive insect that is plaguing southeast Pennsylvania. Tattoos to help identify the insect and a number to contact if one is seen were a big hit. The 240 who registered and a total crowd of about 500 enjoyed the activities.  The event  included an exciting demonstration of a helicopter evacuation from the park.

Photos: Mary Wilding


Barnegat Bay Day July 2019

On July 10, we participated in the annual Barnegat Bay Day along with other organizations to provide information and activities on environmental issues. Teresa Hagan, our Monarch Butterfly Lady, wowed the crowd. Visitors with the help of Pam Masturzo, Mary Stevens, Maryanne Chatfield and Karen Martinez decorated cups and planted milkweed seeds to provide a future food source for the Monarchs as they visit our island. Tattoos were distributed to identify and report the presence of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect disseminating vegetation in southeastern Pennsylvania. Tish Egan, Ria Flynn and Joanne Mitchell told folks about the lanternfly and how to report it. Barbara Reynolds demonstrated reusing an old t-shirt to produce a tote bag and both young and older visitors enthusiastically created bags. Some of the women said they were going to make bags with their Scout, Sunday School, or other groups. Judy Bouton, a new member hopes to do the activity at Library in Surf City.   The Bag Monster, alias Mary Wilding, provided an effective visual image of how many single-use bags (375) we each use annually and visitors were taken back by the volume. One young boy assured the Monster “ My mother ALWAYS uses cloth bags and we tell our friends to do it too!” The statistics regarding plastic pollution were provided and visitors pledged to reduce usage. Julie Eller, JoAnne McKee helped children chose activities and sign the Pledge Sheet. Many committee members who were not available the day of the event helped with the preparation. Although the number of visitors was less this year, those that attended enjoyed the Garden Club activities as well as those provided by Alliance for A Living Ocean, Clean Ocean Action, Re-Clam the Bay and many others.

Photos: Jeannette Michelson and Diane Barbieri


Natural Resources Defense Council

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has asked us to support their petition urging our senators and representatives to protect our air, water and land, expand our clean energy economy, phase out fossil fuels and tackle the climate crisis.  Please review the petition and the specific items addressed by going to   https://act.nrdc.org/letter/climate-action-190528?source=act_nrdcnewsletter&tkd=3277331&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=mainlink&utm_campaign=email&t=5&akid=4967%2E3277331%2EXQ0fFu    and then signing the petition if you agree action needs to be taken.  ”

Natural Resources Defense Council Insider

Aerial view of hurricane

Explore Our Shore- May 2019

“The Girl Scouts of Jersey Shore 395, led by Theresa Strunk and her
daughter, Olivia, coordinated their first eco-event.  “Explore Our
Shore: Solutions to Plastic Pollution” on May 19, 2019 at St. Mary’s
Parish Center in Manahawkin.  Members of the Environmental and Birds &
Wildlife Committees of the GardenClub, participated along with other
nonprofit environmental organizations and businesses, including Alliance
for a Living Ocean, Save Barnegat Bay, Clean Ocean Action, ReClam the
Bay, Terrapin Project along with many others.  Information and hands-on
kid-friendly projects were provided to encourage learning about our
local ecosystem and how each of us can make a difference in the world
around us.  Garden Club members provided information on the impact of
plastic pollution in our oceans  and folks pledged to adopt specific
activities to reduce the staggering amount of plastic.  The Bag Monster
with 375 plastic bags represented the number of bags each of us use
annually.   Information and tattoos to identify the  spotted lanternfly,
a destructive  insect invading  southeast Pennsylvania, were provided
along with information about the monarch butterfly project and their
propogation.  Many other activities  were offered by the Scout members
and by the organizations  to inform attendees of the work being done on
LBI and the mainland.  Attendance was good and strong interest expressed
in having another eco-event.”
From left to right, Michele Farias, Brenda Swissman, Mary Wilding and Bonnie Brodman at the Garden Club table at Explore Our Shore.

 Single-use plastic bag ban

Continuing to advocate for the island -wide ban on single use plastic bags is a priority.  During the summer of 2018, The Garden Club of Long Beach Island was excited to be able to sponsor 5 screenings of the film “A Plastic Ocean” which provided information on the causes and graphic images of the consequences of plastic pollution in our oceans. Environmental organizations including Alliance for A Living Ocean, Clean Ocean Action, International Lighthouse Film Festival, ReClam the Bay and Surfrider promoted the film and provided information about their organizations’ stewardship efforts . Prior to the film, the audiences were introduced to “The Bag Monster”, a mass of approximately 375 single-use plastic bags, the conservative average number used by each of us every year. This number equals 100 billion for the United States or one trillion worldwide annually. Of that total, it is estimated only five percent are recycled.

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

The screenings were part of the ongoing effort to encourage Long Beach Island communities to ban single-use plastic bags and to bring home the message to visitors and residents of the damage being done to the marine environment, all its inhabitants and the impact of microplastics. Switching to reusable cloth or non-woven polypropylene bags is one step toward reducing plastic pollution in the oceans,waterways and on the land. Currently three of the six boroughs on Long Beach Island and Stafford Township on the mainland have passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. While other townships bans are not yet committed to a ban, a much broader statewide ban is pending. In September 2018, Senator Bob Smith, Chair of the N.J. Senate Environmental Committee introduced the strongest statewide ban on plastic products in our nation. Sen. Linda R. Greenstein co-sponsored the bill (S2776) which would ban merchants in the state from using most single-use plastic bags, straws and plastic foam food packaging. At this time, the bill is pending full N.J. Senate vote.

Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach on Long Beach Island and Stafford township have all implemented the ban, as have other locations in New Jersey. Continuing to advocate for island wide and a statewide ban are primary goals of the Environmental Committee for 2019, as is providing information on reducing our plastic consumption, especially other single-use plastics such as straws, utensils, bottles, cups, containers etc. Since 80% of the plastic debris in the ocean comes from the land, there are actions to reduce the pollution. The volume of single-use items is staggering. Collins Dictionary made “single-use” the word of the year! Generating community support to address plastic producers and major corporations to take action and to support those that have is the another objective.

 Beach Sweeps

April 13, 2019 Beach Sweeps

On April 13, 2019, over 5,000 volunteers gathered at more than  60 New Jersey beaches and waterways to collect harmful debris at Clean Ocean Action’s (COA) 34th Annual Spring Beach Sweep.  We worked with Alliance For A Living Ocean (AOL) who coordinated the sweep on LBI.  Our members collected and tabulated the debris we found at 3 different northern LBI beaches.  94% of all the debris collected was plastic of one sort or another. Of the total Plastic,  Food, Candy Wrappers,/Bags accounted for the highest percentage or 42% of all the different plastics; other Plastics(items that couldn’t be sorted into a category) for 21%;  Bottles, Caps/Lids for 17%, Foam plastic (cups, packaging etc.) for 4 % and all the other items like cigarette filters, cigar tips, knives, forks, spoons, shotgun shells etc. for 16%.  It was gratifying knowing all that was collected would not be washing back into the ocean with the next high tide.  Many of our members pick up trash whenever they walk on the beaches or other waterways and, I hope others will do so as well, helping to be part of the ongoing plastic solution.

Photos: Jeannette Michelson


Seismic Blasting/Oil Exploration

The Federal  Administration has moved to allow seismic air gun blasting off the East Coast from Delaware to Florida. Compressed air is fired into the seabed every 10 or 20 seconds for weeks or months at a time in an effort to find oil and gas formations. The intensity of the blasts can injure or disturb and increase the risk of calves being separated from their mothers for more than 138,000 dolphins and whales, including the North Atlantic right whale. The threat of disrupting important fisheries is also a concern. Opposition from 90 percent of the coastal municipalities and bipartisan objection is offset by the American Petroleum Institute, the largest lobbying organization for the oil and gas industry.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) has issued permits to five companies to conduct seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to Florida.  At the present time lawsuits are pending in South Carolina for seismic blasting.  In Alaska, the lawsuit for offshore drilling is not resolved and there will be no action until there is a resolution.

The issue of seismic blasting and industrialization of the Atlantic Ocean is another area of great concern. The Environmental Committee intends to actively advocate against seismic blasting and industrialization. On March 18, 2019  Teresa  Hagan, JoAnne McKee and Ginny Scarlatelli attended a rally in Cape May opposing oil and gas/seismic testing in our oceans.  Efforts will continue by concerned business owners, residents, and environmental advocates to call for a halt to allowing offshore oil and  gas drilling in the Atlantic.

(l to r) JoAnne McKee, Teresa Hagan and Ginny Scarlatelli in Cape May NJ at the rally to oppose oil and gas seismic testing in our oceans.

Action Items

Arctic Refuge

In late December, plans for opening the Arctic Refuge to Big Oil were announced.  The Bureau of Land Management’s  Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) increased the pristine land to be opened for drilling from 800,000 to 1,000,000 acres.  Sierra Club advises such action would have a devastating impact on the landscape and its wildlife and also on the G’wich’in Alaska Native people who rely on the Refuge’s caribou for 80% of their food supply.   However The Department of the Interior just confirmed that there will be NO seismic oil testing in the Arctic Refuge this winter. Seismic testing is notoriously destructive — it can harm denning polar bears and their cubs, and it leaves permanent scars on the tundra.  Seismic testing might be delayed, but the administration is still pushing ahead with their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Refuge.  You can oppose the plan and protect this last pristine 5% of Arctic Refuge by going to https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/National?actionId=AR0136375&id=7010Z000001qtPKQAY

“You can also ask Taxrider House Bill 5911 be repealed to maintain the Arctic Refuge as a true wilderness by going to:https://act.audubon.org/onlineactions/jhAgYIERqUyEWxgC-iPZFA2?ms=policy-adv-email-ea-x-advocacy_20190129_arctic_refuge_alert&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=advocacy_20190129_arctic_refuge_alert&emci=8d21f22c-e223-e911-b8b3-281878392e89&emdi=f719dcfa-fa23-e911-b8b3-281878392e89&ceid=754592 smartlinkdata=JmZuPU1hcnkmbG49V2lsZGluZyZlbT1tY3dpbGRpbmclNDBnbWFpbC5jb20m YWRkMT03K0dsb3VjZXN0ZXIrQXZlKyZjaT1IYXJ2ZXkrQ2VkYXJzJnN0PU5KJnBjPTA4MDA4JmhwPTYwOTM2MTk4NjImcD1NcnMu.

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 Green New Deal

“Green New Deal has been presented in the House and Senate and its policies would address climate change and inequity and could accomplish three things: 1)Tackle the climate crisis and toxic pollution,  2)Create good, high-paying jobs  and 3)Fight racial, economic and gender inequity.  Sierra Club has five big ideas for a Green New Deal, explaining how it could revitalize our infrastructure, retrofit our buildings, revive clean manufacturing, and restore our ecosystems. If you would like to review their article and consider asking our members of Congress to support resolutions calling for a Green New Deal, click on the following website to learn more. (https://www.sierraclub.org/articles/2019/01/five-big-ideas-for-green-new-deal) If you want to add your support there will also be a website listed you can access (https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/National?actionId=AR0140538&id=7010Z000001qreEQAQ&data=ce8ea67170db396344d2de2322b1521cc9132dc6a4a23395b11c488c1e419a7aff8e347b1259c2d8ddafa895f257de84&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sierraclub&utm_campaign=internationalclimate.”