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.

 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.

Image result for Plastic strewn on beach

 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 (Marlena Christensen, Pam Masturzo, Cindy McGrath, JoAnne McKee, Helene Palesteri, Gillian  Rozicer, Ginny Scarlatelli, Teresa Hagan, Jeannette Michelson and Mary Wilding) 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 encouraging to find relatively small numbers of these “other” items and the absence of single-use plastic bags, but the “other Plastics” that couldn’t really be identified probably did have pieces of single-use bags but the pile of deteriorated stuff was on its way to becoming micro-plastic material.  A total of 25 Balloons plus less than 6 items in the categories of Glass,Metal, Paper and Wood only accounted for 6% of the total collected.    One unusual item found was a large foam block buoy with flag markers on poles.  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.

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.


Southern Pine Beetle


Southern Pine Beetle

On March 9, 2019 Richard Buckley of Plant Diagnostic Laboratory of Rutgers NJAES and the Garden Club of Long Beach Island will provide a Science Saturday, “Pine Wilt Disease” at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, Loveladies, N.J. Pine wilt disease is just one of the various diseases that is causing significant problems with our plants and trees caused by the wood borer insect–the pine sawyer beetle. This session will help people understand these various diseases and how to take corrective action.  There is a $5 donation requested for non-members.  In conjunction with the workshop, a native plant order is being prepared for the spring native plant sale and  homeowners will be able to reserve a free red cedar seedling to replace their affected pine tree.  The tentative date for pick up is April 27. ”

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.

Climate Change

You can review the very informative e-mail from Brenda Swissman on Climate Change from Dave Robinson, Rutgers Professor  and Climatologist by clicking on: https://www.dropbox.com/s/hrvsg8nvtfemfac/NJ%20changing%20climate%20presentation.pdf?dl=0

Controlling Invasive Plants

You may wish to use the suggested format below to support legislation that would require nurseries and garden centers to identify invasive plants by a tag that will alert the buyer to proper care.  E-mail our representative Sen.Chris Connors at https://connors.senatenj.com/contact.php or call his office 609-693-6700 or write him:

Senator Christopher Connors

9th Legislative District Office

620 Lacey Road

Forked River, NJ  08731

Dear Senator Connors:I am writing to express my strong support for Bill 3086 to regulate invasive plants. The legislation is of paramount interest to me as a member of the 60 year old Garden Club of LBI, and (add personal comment such as native plant gardener, wildlife enthusiast, etc.)  I am primarily concerned with the widespread damage done by invasive, alien plants that result in fewer birds, fewer Monarch butterflies and fewer native nectar plants and healthy habitats. I am also concerned with the sale of invasive plants without proper education for the gardener.

I hope you will co-sponsor the bill. Thank you in advance for caring about the natural world of New Jersey.

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.”