Parks and Recreation News Articles

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  • 09/12/2023 9:12 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Federal agency takes over Delaware estuary water-quality upgrade


    Green groups welcome transfer of authority to Environmental Protection Agency

    Credit: (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

    File photo: A new rule from EPA is expected to raise the required level of dissolved oxygen in a 38-mile stretch of the river between Trenton and Wilmington, Delaware.

    Water quality standards in the Delaware River Estuary, long a source of concern for environmental groups, have formally become a federal responsibility.

    Nine months after effectively losing its authority over upgrading water-quality standards in the estuary to the federal government, the Delaware River Basin Commission deferred the process to the Environmental Protection Agency. The delay frustrated the commission’s critics.

    The commission, which regulates water supplies for the basin portions of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, approved a resolution on Sept. 7 that ends its long-running review of dissolved oxygen standards in the river’s tidal section, handing off  that responsibility to the federal agency.

    The EPA will now propose a new rule that is expected to raise the required level of dissolved oxygen — a crucial indicator of ecological health — in a 38-mile stretch of the river between Trenton and Wilmington, Delaware, above 3.5 milligrams per liter. That standard has been in effect since 1967, and environmentalists say it is far too lax to fully support the river’s growing fish populations.

    Advocates for a higher standard say the current requirement allows some fish to migrate and breed, while others struggle to survive in the estuary, especially during the summer when warmer water contain less oxygen than at other times of year.

    The EPA’s new rule is also expected to change the estuary’s “designated use” to the propagation of fish rather than merely the “maintenance” of fish populations — a description that has been in force for more than 50 years.

    “EPA acknowledges the Delaware River Basin Commission’s decision to suspend its own rulemaking to update the aquatic life uses and dissolved oxygen criteria for the tidal reach of the Delaware River,” the federal agency said in a statement on Friday.

    Maya van Rossum of Delaware Riverkeeper Network accused the Delaware River Basin Commission of wasting time and taxpayers’ money by conducting a parallel process for the water review.

    The Commission said the resolution “withdraws the DRBC’s scheduled commitment to adopt revised DRBC water quality standards for the Delaware River Estuary by March 2025” and that the EPA will now “lead the rulemaking process.”

    The statement ends a period that began on Dec. 1, 2022 when the EPA unexpectedly granted a petition by five environmental groups for the federal agency to take over the water-quality review because of what critics said was an unacceptably slow process by the regional commission.

    Meeting federal requirements

    The EPA said last December that the concentration of oxygen in the water must be increased to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, a landmark law underpinning the cleanup of rivers like the Delaware since it was passed in 1972.

    The EPA aims to propose its rule by the end of this year; the DRBC previously said it wouldn’t issue a final rule until the spring of 2025.

    Despite formally deferring to the EPA, the Trenton-based DRBC said it will continue to provide scientific, engineering and technical assistance to the federal agency in its review, but DRBC’s Sept. 7 decision immediately withdraws its plans to write regulations for a water-quality upgrade in zones 3, 4 and the upper part of zone 5 in the estuary.

    Hurry up and wait

    Maya van Rossum of Delaware Riverkeeper Network, one of the groups that petitioned the EPA last year, welcomed the DRBC’s decision but said it should have come as soon as the EPA accepted the petition, and not nine months later.

    She accused the DRBC of wasting time and taxpayers’ money by conducting a parallel process for the water review.

    In a statement accompanying its resolution, the DRBC said it was deferring to the EPA to promote ‘regulatory efficiency’ but will continue to work with the federal agency in its efforts to raise water-quality standards.

    “They took the ridiculous position that they were going to continue to spend time, money and resources on their own standards process — not just wasting time and money and creating confusion for the public, but setting up the very real likelihood that they would advance standards different than EPA and create a legal conflict,” van Rossum said in a statement.

    She said the DRBC had “misrepresented the science” and was influenced by industry to keep the current water standard in place for longer than it should have.

    And she predicted that the federal agency will do a better job of setting a standard that protects fish than the DRBC would have.

    “The landmark decision by EPA to grant our petition was strong confirmation that they too saw the DRBC failing to advance protective, science-driven standards in a timely fashion,” she said. “I will be more confident in what EPA proposes.”

    Kate Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the DRBC, declined to say why it had taken the agency nine months to formally hand the rulemaking process to the EPA, but said a federally led process will now be easier for the public to understand.

    “A single, EPA-led rulemaking process will provide clarity to the public and will allow for focused engagement by estuary communities, advocates and regulated entities,” she said.

    Discharging less ammonia

    The DRBC began its review of whether to raise the dissolved oxygen standard in 2017, and delivered its long-awaited conclusions in September last year. It made no specific recommendation on a new dissolved oxygen standard but concluded that it would be possible to achieve both a higher oxygen content and an upgraded designated use by requiring more restrictions on the discharge of ammonia from water treatment plants.

    Those measures are expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but the sticker shock would be eased by spreading the cost among the millions of people who use water taken from the river’s tidal stretch, water experts say.

    Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, one of the groups that petitioned the EPA, said there was a risk of duplication of the rulemaking efforts, and so it was a “good decision” to allow the federal agency to lead the process. “It doesn’t make sense to have the DRBC and the EPA work on the same thing at the same time,” he said. “The resolution gives the impression that there was double-track work going on.”

    In a statement accompanying its resolution, the DRBC said it was deferring to the EPA to promote “regulatory efficiency” but will continue to work with the federal agency in its efforts to raise water-quality standards.

    DRBC officials will work on ways to implement a new water-quality standard. The commission’s activities will include identifying effluent dischargers and considering capital improvement schedules.

    “The commission will continue to support and provide resources to the EPA and the estuary states to meet the shared goal of updated water-quality standards that improve protections for aquatic life,” it said.

  • 07/17/2023 2:27 PM | Ann Pilato (Administrator)

    Large, resilient, connected forest landscapes are vital for the conservation of biodiversity—and to combat global warming.

    By Pamela Weber-Leaf | | July 10, 2023 | Appears in the July 2023 issue

    Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

    Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, located in the Pine Barrens, spans over 38,000 acres of land. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    They cover nearly 2 million acres across the state—verdant expanses, rich in varied wildlife, that have caught the attention of equally varied human advocacy groups. New Jersey’s forests account for two-fifths of its land—proportionally greater than half the states in the country. And, with the increasing recognition of trees’ importance in combating climate change, proper management of these wooded parcels has never been more critical.

    In 2023, few would contest the value of large, resilient and connected forest landscapes for the conservation of biodiversity, plant and animal migration corridors, and to combat global warming; healthy trees reduce atmospheric carbon by storing the element in new growth. Preserving forest health also means protecting soil and water quality, controlling invasive plant species, and limiting risk of wildfire. Among environmentalists, commercial loggers, government agencies and outdoor-recreation enthusiasts, the best way to achieve all this has long been hotly debated, but has never been officially determined—at least not in the eyes of the law.

    The matter is now getting a formal hearing. New Jersey’s first ever Forest Stewardship Task Force submitted its report this year to the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Environment, with the full Senate and Assembly expected to vote later this year on binding regulations that follow from the report. The rules would apply to all forests under state or local control. This encompasses nearly 900,000 acres, from the oak, maple and hickory-dotted Highlands in northwestern New Jersey down to the Pine Barrens, whose namesake trees include large stands of pitch and a half-dozen other pine species. According to just about everyone who cares about these arboreal gems, a clear mandate is long overdue.

    [RELATEDMeet the Man Who Oversees All of NJ’s Trees]

    Pakim Pond along a portion of the Batona Trail in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

    Pakim Pond along a portion of the Batona Trail in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    “Every forest in New Jersey is up for grabs,” says Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the state’s Sierra Club and one of four task force members. “We needed a framework that addressed things holistically and reached a consensus for all the stakeholders. This promotes a science-based approach to achieve climate and ecological objectives.”

    The main controversy is whether and where to continue allowing logging, and it has inflamed passions to wood-scorching levels. As designed by state Senator Bob Smith, a Central Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Environment and Energy Committee, the rules were crafted to incorporate the ideas of two-thirds of the organizations and individuals involved in the process. The resulting compromise permits some logging, which, advocates argue, generates less emission of carbon dioxide and other ozone-depleting greenhouse gasses than the transportation required to import the hardwoods New Jersey’s construction industry needs. But, the dissenting third disputes this, claiming that much of the state’s harvested wood is exported anyway. 

    “When we talk about deforestation in the Amazon or Indonesia, everyone goes, ‘That’s so horrible,’” says Ken Dolsky, vice president of New Jersey Forest Watch, a statewide nonprofit that submitted an extensive rebuttal to the report. “But here in New Jersey, the [practice] is twisted into something they’re doing for the health of the forest. That is just outrageous.” 

    The trunk of an Atlantic white cedar.

    The trunk of an Atlantic white cedar. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    Outrage over clear-cutting on a relatively small tract at wildlife-rich Sparta Mountain led to the creation several years ago of Forest Watch. The group is part of an organized Highlands Coalition intent on preserving a continuous tree canopy that many environmentalists say is essential to curtail stormwater runoff and maintain a clean drinking-water table. But beyond the patchwork of old- and newer-growth forest lies a tangle of other issues the task force addressed, namely, preventing the region’s ubiquitous deer from destroying new forest growth and curtailing invasive plant species that jeopardize biodiversity. Also beyond the reach of the proposed regulations lie the other half of the state’s forests—the 48 percent on privately owned land and another 7 percent under federal control, in places like the Delaware Water Gap and New Jersey’s 72-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail. 

    [RELATEDMeet the Handful of Locals Rescuing Our State’s Threatened Trees]

    Neither of these forest categories has been the source of frequent protest. Development proposals on federally owned land are few and far between. The 950,000 forested acres outside any government jurisdiction run the gamut from hundreds of small family- and company-owned parcels to larger tracts still under a square mile, plus a small percentage that nonprofit land conservancies have purchased over the years to preserve in perpetuity. These groups also buy public lands; when the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSoC) in Stokes State Forest, the nation’s oldest resident environment field center, was slated for closure due to budget cuts at owner Montclair State University, a hastily assembled Friends of the NJSoC stepped in to acquire and manage the property. Occasionally, the government buys directly from a landowner for preservation purposes; the Catholic Church sold approximately 32 acres of pristine forest, called Bretton Woods, to Ocean County after local outcry over a planned housing development. But, as other privately held land is slowly tapped for timber, the task force’s forest-industry representative points out that lessons learned from his consulting experience apply to all proposed logging on public lands. 

    “I literally work in the woods,” says Andy Bennett of the New Jersey Forestry Association. “Some forests are crowded or completely overfull. They face immense pressure and need shepherding to help along the natural aging processes. The science absolutely doesn’t support leaving everything alone.”  

    New leaves sprout along a creek

    New leaves sprout along a creek which has been darkened by pine tannins. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    One generally accepted form of shepherding is limiting the spread of non-native flora and fauna, including insects and microorganisms, that suffocate their native cousins. A task force recommendation to reconvene the Invasive Species Council, created in 2004 but dismantled by former governor Chris Christie, was widely applauded; New Jersey is one of three states with no comprehensive strategy on invasives. Proposed legislation would require a permit to grow and sell species such as honeysuckle; Japanese barberry, a popular ornamental plant; and garlic mustard, an herb used for cooking.

    Almost everyone following the latest developments also champions prescribed burns, setting carefully controlled fires to reduce overgrown brush and some trees that provide fuel for wildfires. Yet preemptive strikes were no match for this past spring’s drought-like conditions, which sparked a conflagration in Manchester’s Pine Barrens and two other large blazes across the state in one terrible week in April. Almost 6,500 acres were decimated. And, in June 2022, a single blaze more than twice that size, likely caused by an illegal campfire, scorched the Pine Barrens’ Wharton State Forest, New Jersey’s largest forest.

    Equally destructive, if less dramatically so, is New Jersey’s white-tailed deer population, currently around 125,000. A century ago, it was essentially zero. Today, while some might say the deer’s beauty compensates for traffic disruption, trampled gardens and other suburban inconveniences, they are far more dangerous to Jersey’s forests. Considered an ecosystem engineer, the deer is the forest’s main wildlife villain on many levels, degrading deciduous, or non-evergreen, trees on a huge scale. But, the best way to thin the herd has divided forest stewards, perhaps more than any other question.

    Bark on a pine tree in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Vincentown.

    Bark on a pine tree. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    At the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF), one person has made it his life’s mission to thwart deer from devouring the understory—the layer of shrubs, vines and saplings between the forest floor and the mature tree canopy. This forest lifeblood can thrive only if hunting rules are designed to facilitate ecological sustainability rather than recreation, says Emile DeVito, the organization’s manager of science and stewardship, who holds a doctorate in ecology. With wolves long gone from New Jersey’s wilds, the deer have no natural predators. 

    An experiment the NJCF launched in the mid-1990s to demonstrate the importance of deer scarcity was wildly successful. Installing small fenced-in areas at Watchung Reservation prevented the animals from browsing, and the bucks from the habitual antler rubbing that strips protective outer bark from trees. The fences have space underneath to let in rabbits and rodents, proving that smaller mammals are not the real problem. Sheltered from their own biggest predator, the trees inside these enclosures have matured to shade the understory, allowing growth of maple leaf viburnum and other native species well adapted to low light.

    Nature, it seems, loves a deer vacuum.

    “Thirty years ago, this looked like a bowling alley,” says DeVito, sweeping his arms dramatically beside the original chain-link Deer Impact & Plant Regeneration Study Area, lush even in late March, before leaves appear on the deciduous trees. “Today, you’ve got no invasives here at all. The forest has completely regenerated.”

    Short of fencing the entire state, DeVito says, officials need an aggressive strategy that de-emphasizes trophy hunting of the antlered males and legalizes commercial venison, as Pennsylvania has done. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, a division of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has no plans to do so.

    But Larry Herrighty, a former Fish & Wildlife official who represents the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), a consortium of hunters, notes that the practice has helped reduce the population by 40 percent from its mid-1990s high. “This state has one of— if not the most—liberal deer-hunting regulations in the U.S.” says Herrighty, who cited other control measures such as widespread contraception, as impractical. “To call deer overabundant everywhere is a huge overgeneralization.”

    Pine needles on the forest floor.

    Pine needles on the forest floor. Photo: Bryan Anselm

    Deer aside, it is the fight over logging that has the most people upset. Certain forested areas of the state already benefit from some level of protection. Development in the Pine Barrens was limited by a 1979 state law, although the new rules would significantly increase scrutiny of any proposals. In the vast New Jersey Highlands region, whose eastern boundary stretches 60 miles across seven counties, commercial intrusions are largely forbidden in certain areas, such as West Milford, by existing legislation. The task force report also includes a provision to prioritize reforestation of previously cleared areas that will best sequester carbon dioxide. Small consolation to the stalwart defenders of Sparta Mountain, which sits outside the strongest protection zone, and to those outraged over removal of 21 acres of mature upland forest in Glassboro earlier this year with scant public notice. The DEP had authorized that project to create a meadow habitat for a shorebird, the American woodcock sandpiper, which it considers a “species of concern”—a classification two steps short of endangerment.

    [RELATEDA Quick Guide to Planting Trees in New Jersey]

    For most New Jersey residents, including the cohort watching the regulatory process unfold in Trenton, naysayers focused on these isolated preservation lapses aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. Regardless, forest stewards whose job it is to promote public enjoyment of nature’s majesty encourage people to get out and appreciate it for themselves. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, which maintains 682 forested miles throughout the state, saw a large uptick of visitors during the pandemic, according to spokesman Don Weise—and that’s a good thing. Pausing during a hike below Ramapo Reservation’s picturesque MacMillan Falls, Weise says, “These forests are an invaluable resource. We hope everyone can come experience this nature and instill in their kids the need to value and protect it.”

    And, perhaps, own it, in the best possible way. Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, denizens for centuries of the land where Weise lightly treads, states it simply: “We ask that the trees in public forests be accorded the respect of a living person, as our cousins or grandparents. They may willingly give of themselves, as we would give of ourselves, as our mothers would give to sustain her children.” 

    Pamela Weber-Leaf’s editorial career included the environment beat at two daily newspapers. She is a nonpracticing environmental lawyer.

  • 06/29/2023 3:08 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)



    (23/P41) TRENTON – As part of the Murphy Administration’s commitment to expand healthy recreation opportunities for all New Jerseyans, Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette today cut the ribbon on the State Park Service’s first inclusive playground at Atsion Recreation Area, and announced that two additional inclusive playgrounds in Middlesex and Sussex counties, and equipment replacements at 24 additional State Park Service playgrounds will be completed by the end of 2024.

    The new inclusive playground at Atsion Recreation Area, within Wharton State Forest in Burlington County, has solid rubber surfacing and equipment that will enhance the playground experience for people of all abilities, offering the greatest level of access for those with a wide range of special needs. Inclusive playgrounds also will be constructed by the end of 2024 at Cheesequake State Park in Middlesex County and Wawayanda State Park in Sussex County, ensuring the public has an inclusive playground in each region of the state park system.

    “Residents in every community deserve safe and quality opportunities to enjoy healthy and restorative outdoor recreational activities,” said Commissioner LaTourette. “These important upgrades, which are part of the DEP’s Enhanced Playground Initiative, exemplify the Murphy Administration’s commitment to making this goal a reality. Children of all abilities will soon be able to enjoy the outdoors while using state-of-the-art playgrounds across New Jersey.”

    Adding inclusive playgrounds in each region of the state park system is part of a DEP effort known as the Enhanced Playground Initiative that will also completely replace outdated playground equipment at select state parks across New Jersey. To date, the State Park Service has upgraded nine existing playgrounds in the southern region of the state with new and updated structures to enhance inclusivity. The replacements occurred at playgrounds in Atsion Recreation Area and Bass River State Forest in Burlington County, Belleplain State Forest in Cape May County and Parvin State Park in Salem County.

    The Atsion Recreation Area inclusive playground and the two to be installed at Cheesequake and Wawayanda state parks are tailored to individuals with physical disabilities and include features to enhance the playground experience for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

    Ground-level activities that are part of the play structure include musical instruments to further auditory and cognitive stimulation and hand cyclers to promote upper body development. Each of the three inclusive playgrounds also will have adaptive swings for those unable to use a belt swing and slide transfer decks for a more comfortable transfer from a mobility device onto a slide.

    "In 2023, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Green Acres have focused on projects to advance inclusive and accessible outdoor recreation opportunities, one of which is inclusive playground equipment,” said Sean Holland, Nature and Disability Advocate for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “With these improvements, the state is paving the way toward a new and improved sense of inclusion and accessibility to the disabled community. Now, those seeking opportunities for outdoor recreation and shared experiences with friends and family will have the chance to have fun in the sun together.”

    “I am thrilled that even more children will be able to play and create memories at the Atsion park that so many families will continue to visit thanks to this new playground,” said Rep. Andy Kim. “It is important we continue to take steps like this to make our New Jersey neighborhoods more inclusive to families so everyone can thrive and feel at home. This is such a wonderful example of how federal grant funding can help deliver transformational local change and make more of our community spaces welcoming, safe, and happy places for everyone.”

    “I’d like to thank the State and Department of Environmental Protection for funding this inclusive Atsion Recreation Area project,” said Sen. Jean Stanfield. “This lake and park draw a diverse crowd from the Pinelands to the shore. It’s beloved by the local community, and it will now be able to be enjoyed by even more people.”

    An additional 24 playgrounds will be completely replaced by the end of 2024. The new play structures will have at least one feature found at a fully inclusive playground as well as climbing walls, corkscrew slides and new swings. The replacement playgrounds are planned in these locations:

     Central Region (13 playgrounds):

    • Hunterdon County: Round Valley Recreation Area, Spruce Run Recreation Area and Voorhees State Park
    • Mercer County: Washington Crossing State Park
    • Middlesex County: Cheesequake State Park
    • Monmouth County: Allaire State Park and Monmouth Battlefield State Park

    Northern Region (11 playgrounds):

    • Passaic County: Ringwood State Park
    • Sussex County: High Point State Park & New Jersey Veterans’ Memorial, Hopatcong State Park, Stokes State Forest and Swartswood State Park
    • Warren County: Jenny Jump State Forest, Stephens State Park and Worthington State Forest

    Since the State Park Service has completed playgrounds in the southern region, the next round of playground replacements will be in the central region, before moving to the northern region. Specific equipment replacement timeframes are unavailable.

    “The State Park Service is working hard to make capital improvements throughout the park system,” said John Cecil, Assistant Commissioner for State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites. “These new playgrounds provide families with excellent opportunities to exercise, participate in healthy activities and spend quality time together. We are especially proud of the regional inclusive playground component of this initiative, which is carefully designed to promote play among those with differing needs and abilities.”

    Earlier this year, the Murphy Administration announced nearly $100 million in proposed investments in projects through the DEP’s Green Acres Program to develop or update parks and preserve open space, including a new initiative to fund construction of inclusive playgrounds for differently abled children. That recommendation included $7.4 million to counties for development of Completely Inclusive Playgrounds as part of Jake’s Law.

    The new playgrounds complement DEP’s Outside, Together! initiative. Outside Together! works to elevate outdoor recreation and planning efforts to, among other goals, expand high-quality open space opportunities to everyone and advance equity and environmental justice through outdoor recreation.

    “Outside, Together!, an important piece of the state’s planning process to enhance parks, was launched in 2022 to ensure investments in our open space capital improve the quality of life for all New Jersey residents regardless of income, race, ethnicity, color, ability or national origin,” said Elizabeth Dragon, Assistant Commissioner for Community Investment and Economic Revitalization. “These new playgrounds further the goal of improving the number of accessible and inclusive outdoor recreation opportunities that meet the needs of communities throughout the state.”

    Completion of all playground replacements and construction of the three new inclusive playgrounds will cost $4.1 million. Funding comes from Corporate Business Tax revenues through the Preserve New Jersey Act, which is administered by the DEP and matched by a 50 percent federal Land and Water Conservation Fund recreation grant.

    To learn more about New Jersey’s Parks, Forests & Historic Sites, visit  

    Like New Jersey’s State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites page on Facebook at

    Follow the New Jersey State Park Service on Instagram @newjerseystateparks

    Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep



    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s environment and public health. The agency prioritizes addressing climate change, protecting New Jersey’s water, revitalizing its communities and managing and promoting its natural and historic resources.

    For the most recent information, follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep, and LinkedIn @newjerseydep, or visit

    Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur. 


  • 06/26/2023 3:44 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)


    spotted lanternfly - Click to enlarge

    May 31, 2023
    PO Box 330
    Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330   



    (TRENTON) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has announced that grant funds are available to counties and municipalities to battle the spotted lanternfly (SLF). Interested counties and municipalities may apply to receive funds from the Department. The Murphy Administration, in partnership with the Legislature, has provided funding to the Department to reduce SLF populations and minimize its spread.

    A total of up to $50,000 per county, and up to $15,000 per municipality is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for reimbursement of eligible costs incurred for SLF chemical treatment activities. A letter to counties and municipalities, the notice of funds availability, and the application can be found at

    “This is an excellent opportunity for counties and municipalities in New Jersey to take advantage of this funding that can assist them in helping reduce the populations of this pest,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “The more participants we have in this program the stronger our campaign will be against this invasive menace.”

    The spotted lanternfly is currently in a nymph stage where it is black with white spots. It will mature into red and black with white spots in its next stage, and then reach its adult stage sometime in August.

    In addition to this program, home and business owners can go to to find information that includes a timeline for the stages of growth for the insect as well as treatment options. Along with the listed treatment options, residents and businesses can also use licensed pesticide applicators to provide treatments to kill the spotted lanternfly.

    While the spotted lanternfly does not harm humans or animals, it can feed on about 70 different types of vegetation or trees. The pest’s preferred host is the Tree of Heaven, an invasive plant that has been in the United States for decades. The spotted lanternfly is native to Asia and was first found in the U.S. in Berks County, Pa., in 2014. It is considered a plant hopper and can fly only a few feet at a time. However, the spotted lanternfly is an excellent hitchhiker and can travel on almost any kind of transportation for several miles, which has caused it to spread to several states.

    The Department asks people to check their vehicles whenever possible before leaving an area to make sure the pest is not coming along for the ride. The NJDA has a checklist of items and places on where to look for the spotted lanternfly before leaving an area here. The checklist serves to inform the public about the spotted lanternfly, including how to identify all life stages of the insect and minimize its movement.


    To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at and or Twitter @NJDA and @JerseyFreshNJDA.

  • 02/23/2023 2:30 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Legislative task force delivers tome on best-practices forest management


    Report identifies 16 steps for healthier public forests, at least one of which — limited logging — raises hackles and objections

    New Jersey needs to take 16 steps to best oversee and manage its forests to fight climate change, prevent fires and improve its ecosystems, according to a legislative task force.

    In making those recommendations Wednesday, the task force offered its 270-page report to better manage hundreds of thousands of acres of publicly owned forested lands in New Jersey, with much of the focus on whether those practices ought to allow limited logging.

    There appeared to be a somewhat broad consensus among the nearly 50 organizations participating in the process on a number of recommendations, including calling on the Legislature to come up with a new source of funding to hire staff at the Department of Environmental Protection to implement its findings.

    The suggested actions urged the DEP to conduct statewide planning and mapping for forested public lands and to begin a formal rulemaking process to develop a forest management plan that land.

    Fewer bucks and does

    More daunting, the recommendations urge the DEP to look at ways to reduce deer density in New Jersey, which include additional hunting, and to take more aggressive actions to reduce the growth of invasive species.

    The most controversial action would allow what the report termed “tree cutting” or “limited logging” in some cases to meet the ecological objectives of a healthy forest. The issue of logging continues to emerge as a contentious one, with several organizations arguing there is no basis for doing so.

    Speaking near the end of the hearing before two legislative committees, Elliott Ruga, policy director for the Highlands Coalition, called claims of “ecological health’’ to justify logging spurious.

    “The disturbances of mechanized timbering and the removal of felled timber — including the need for new access roads — causes impacts, often devastating, to sensitive ecological components of the forest that must be weighed against any ecological goal,’’ Ruga told lawmakers.

    “We should not be logging the mature forests of North Jersey,’’ added Sara Webb, a forest ecologist and professor emeritus of biology and environmental sciences at Drew University, saying the thinning of trees makes it difficult to grow new trees because of deer overpopulation and invasive species.

    But Sen. Bob Smith, who appointed the four co-chairs of the task force, asked, “Is this a real problem?’’ Smith (D-Middlesex) said he already has asked the DEP for that information. “How much of the actual state was clear-cut in 2021? In 2022?’’

    What price better stewardship?

     Smith also wanted to know how much will it cost the state to improve its stewardship of public forests. The task force did not provide an estimate, suggesting the DEP would be better suited to answer that question, according to co-chair Tom Gilbert.

    “If adequately funded and implemented through legislation and rulemaking, these recommendations will result in significant steps in better protecting and stewarding our public forests lands,’’ Gilbert said.

    The recommendations also include asking the DEP to identify areas where active management is needed to promote carbon storage and maintain biodiversity. Along those lines, the agency should designate carbon preserves with the aim of protecting mature and old-growth forests.

  • 02/15/2023 4:44 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    NJ To Require All-Electric Cars, 100% Clean Energy By 2035

    Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement during a speech at Rutgers University, moving up the state's goal by a lofty 15 years.

    Megan VerHelst's profile picture

    Megan VerHelst,Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff Badge

    Posted Wed, Feb 15, 2023 at 1:59 pm ET|Updated Wed, Feb 15, 2023 at 2:26 pm ET

    Replies (406)

    Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced the state will move up its goal to reach 100 percent clean energy by 15 years and require all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035.Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced the state will move up its goal to reach 100 percent clean energy by 15 years and require all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

    NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced the state will move up its goal to reach 100 percent clean energy by 15 years — an initiative that will also require new cars sold in the state to be all-electric by 2035.

    Murphy made the announcement during a speech at Rutgers University. The decision to move the state's 100 percent clean energy goal from 2050 to 2035 was among six environmental actions Murphy plans to enact to achieve the "Next New Jersey," he said.

    "These bold targets and carefully crafted initiatives signal our unequivocal commitment to swift and concrete climate action today," Murphy said in a statement. "We've turned our vision for a greener tomorrow into a responsible and actionable roadmap to guide us, and it's through that pragmatic, evidence-based approach that we will ultimately arrive at our destination."

    Murphy signed three executive orders Wednesday aimed at combatting climate change. Among the state's goal to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2035, one order calls for the installation of zero-emission heating and cooling systems in 10 percent of all low-to-moderate income residential properties by 2030.

    Another order calls for the state Board of Public Utilities to research the possibility of a natural gas utility in New Jersey.

    Find out what's happening in Morris Township-Morris Plainswith free, real-time updates from Patch.

    Let's go!

    The move to require all-electric cars by 2035 is among some of the most aggressive actions taken to tackle climate change in the nation.

    In August, California Gov. Gavin Newsom officially banned the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in the Golden State by 2035. The mandate requires all new vehicles to have zero emissions and be free of fossil fuel emissions.

    The California Air Resources Board will require 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the state by 2026 to produce zero emissions. By 2030, that number will climb to 68 percent.

    "The climate crisis is solvable if we focus on the big, bold steps necessary to stem the tide of carbon pollution," Newsom said in a statement.

    Murphy's announcement comes a month after he lost the title of "America's Greenest Governor" in a progress report card released by the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

    In its report, the group said that while Murphy has made "significant progress in the clean energy space," his work is overshadowed by other states.

    Since Murphy earned the title, Maryland’s new governor Wes Moore pledged to achieve a 100 percent clean energy transition by 2035, and Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which sets a target of 2045.

    "With other states adopting clean energy goals that outpace New Jersey, we urge Governor Murphy to ensure that our state fully transitions to 100% clean energy by 2035," Tom Gilbert, co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said in January.

    Murphy's announcement also comes the same week a group of 20 lawmakers threw their support behind an effort to put the brakes on a proposed natural gas power plant in Newark.

    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was among those to sign a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy this week, expressing their “strong opposition” to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s proposed methane gas-fired power plant.

    Get more local news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch newsletters and alerts.

  • 02/07/2023 4:28 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)



         TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (
    S757) authorizing commercial farms that are located on preserved farmland to hold special occasion events, subject to certain conditions. The Legislature concurred with the Governor's conditional veto of an earlier version of the legislation. The Governor recommended changes to ensure protections for agricultural or horticultural production on preserved farmland.

         "As the Garden State, agriculture is quintessential to New Jersey's identity and agritourism is the next frontier to maintaining this heritage," said Governor Murphy. "This law will open new revenue streams for those who work tirelessly to maintain the preserved farmland that is core to our state's cultural fabric. I am especially proud to sign this bill in honor of the late Assemblyman Ron Dancer, whose legacy of advocacy for our state's agricultural and tourism industries is found writ-large in this new law."

         Special occasion events allow preserved farmland owners the opportunity to introduce new streams of income to family farming operations and increase the enjoyments offered to the public by agritourism.

         "This bill permits operators of preserved farms to host special occasion events that the public can enjoy with their family and friends on agricultural lands," said NJDA Secretary Douglas H. Fisher, who is also the chair of the State Agriculture Development Committee. "I appreciate Governor Murphy signing this bill today which enables farmers to augment their bottom line which in turn helps to secure agriculture's continued success in the Garden State."

         Under the bill, a preserved farm that produces agricultural or horticultural products worth more than $10,000 annually may hold up to a maximum of 26 special occasion events per calendar year, of which 6 may have 250 guests or more in attendance.

         Primary sponsors of the legislation include Senators Paul Sarlo and Steven Oroho, and Assemblymembers Roy Freiman and Raj Mukherji. The late Assemblyman Ron Dancer also served as a primary sponsor of the bill.

         "New Jersey's farms are one of the state's most productive and attractive assets," said Senator Paul Sarlo, Chairman, Senate Budget Committee. "In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, our farms offer a beautiful venue to host weddings and other events that help farmers supplement their income and preserve their farmland. This will help make life more affordable for farmers and provide economic benefits to their communities."

         "This law gives farmers in New Jersey the opportunity to supplement their income by hosting special events on their land. Agritourism is a growing industry and, by allowing our farmers to participate, we make it possible for them to expand their businesses, grow the economy and showcase that which makes New Jersey's agricultural community special. Further, it provides access to farms and farmland, allowing all to enjoy the beauty of nature, and gives insight into the challenges and rewards farmers encounter in growing the food we consume," said Assemblymen Roy Freiman and Raj Mukherji. "By finding a balance between protecting preserved farmland and giving farmers in the Garden State the ability to host events, we can introduce new streams of income to the farming industry without compromising agricultural production."

         "I am proud this legislation will be signed into law. Our heritage as the 'Garden State' goes back hundreds of years, and our farming tradition is still thriving in many families and communities throughout the state," said Senate Minority Leader Steven Oroho. "In addition to growing fruits, vegetables, and grains, our farms can also be used for wedding ceremonies and many other special events. This bill, now law, will provide an economic benefit to farmers, preserve important farmland, and showcase New Jersey's rich agricultural legacy."

         "Special occasion events for farms have become a critical part of the farmers' plan to keep farming as well as great destinations for the residents of the state. As a champion of New Jersey's acclaimed agricultural industry and an ally to all farmers, I know my late friend Assemblyman Dancer would have celebrated today, and then would have gone back to work on the next bill to help farmers. We shared much of the same vision for New Jersey's future and I have been honored to help ensure his public service continues to make a positive impact," said Assemblyman Alex Sauickie, who currently serves the 12th legislative district, succeeding the late Assemblyman Dancer. "His legacy is felt in the lasting success of the Garden State's farming communities."

         Under the bill, a special occasion event is required to not interfere with the use of the preserved farmland for agricultural or horticultural production, have minimal effects on the occupied area, and must be designed to protect the agricultural resources of the land to ensure that the land can be readily returned to productive agricultural or horticultural use after the event. All applicable State and local laws and ordinances including those concerning food safety, litter, noise, solid waste, traffic, and the protection of public health and safety apply to the special occasion event.

         "This legislation will allow preserved farm owners an additional economic opportunity to help sustain their farm viability into the future," said Allen Carter, President of New Jersey Farm Bureau. "The Farm Bureau appreciates the Governor, his Administration and the Legislature's work to help set reasonable rules for hosting events on preserved farmland."

         "Our industry keeps the 'Garden' in the Garden State," said Devon Perry, the Executive Director of the Garden State Wine Growers Association. "As the fastest growing sector of agriculture in New Jersey, we celebrate ongoing support of agritourism across the board."

  • 01/05/2023 9:56 AM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)


    NJDEP Fish and Wildlife's CHANJ team just finished a 5-year project looking at the functional connectivity of New Jersey's landscape for native mammal species.  One part of the project used DNA samples and a gene flow analysis to answer the question, how well are animals getting around in our urbanized state?  


    With help from more than 100 volunteers equipped with sampling kits of scissors, gloves, plastic tubes and data sheets, we collected 1,669 DNA samples from 33 different native mammal species across the state.  Most samples were taken from road-killed or legally harvested animals.  


    Our goal was to sample large and small species with different territory sizes and life histories.  For each species we aimed to collect at least 20 samples north of Route 1 (north Jersey) and 20 samples south of Route 1 (south Jersey).  



    Our samples were processed by the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation in Montana.  Below are maps showing the sample distribution for each of 10 mammal species we assessed in this study:


    Gene Flow Species Maps


    The analyses show that patterns of gene flow within multiple species across NJ appear to be affected by our human-modified landscape (e.g., roads and development), which limits their ability to disperse.  We hypothesize that carnivores like Coyotes and Bobcats may be having the hardest time because of their large area requirements compared to other animals.  But landscape "resistance" appears to be an issue for species with smaller home ranges too, including Woodchucks and Eastern Cottontails.  This is yet more evidence that habitat connectivity needs attention in the Garden State (visit to learn more and find tools to help)


    Gene Flow Results Infographic


    The results also showed that very common, urban-adapted species like White-tailed Deer, Raccoon and Eastern Gray Squirrel are less impacted by habitat fragmentation so far, at least genetically speaking.  And Virginia Opossums taught us a new word - panmixia - meaning their genetics are similar all across the state, uninfluenced even by physical distance.  This may be due to Opossums' nomadic nature and urban adaptability.


    For more of the juicy science behind this study, check out our full report here: 

    A huge thanks! to all the volunteers and participants who collected DNA for this study, and to the Genomics Center for making it meaningful. 


    Special thanks also go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife & Sportfish Restoration Program for funding our project.

    CHANJ learn more

    Email us at

    New Jersey D E P Fish and Wildlife


    Questions? Contact Us

  • 10/05/2022 1:25 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Frederick Law Olmsted’s Garden State legacy

    Observing the father of American landscape architecture's 200th birthday by exploring F.L. Olmsted's lasting influence in New Jersey.

    Cedar Court, panoramic view of house, ca. 1900


     North Jersey History and Genealogy Center


     October 5, 2022 


    Jeffrey V. Moy, North Jersey History and Genealogy Center

    The Garden State is home to nearly 40 parks designed by the Olmsted Firm, the first landscape architecture company in the United States.

    Founded by business partners Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the Olmsted Firm remained active from 1857 until the 1960s, with most of its New Jersey projects in the counties of Essex, Union, and Passaic; and a few significant ones in Morris Township and Morristown.

    General view of Central Park, Harper’s Weekly, August 27, 1864. North Jersey History & Genealogy Center collections (NJHGC).

    Nature Perfected

    Best known for designing New York’s Central Park with partner Calvert Vaux in 1865, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. preferred working in the Pastoral Style, as characterized by a meticulously planned and yet naturalistic built environment.

    In this setting, Olmsted crafted flowing hills out of rocky outcrops, deposited tree lines and berms to hide nearby roads and buildings, and strategically placed babbling streams and groupings of boulders and shrubbery, all crafted to appear as if they had existed in tranquility for hundreds of years.

    Ellicotdale viewed from Ellicot Arch, Franklin Park, Boston. The Olmsted Firm designed the public park systems of Boston and Buffalo, among other cities of this era. Olmsted Papers Project photograph.

    In addition to Central Park, Olmsted created the park systems of the cities of Boston and Buffalo. Historian Jeanne Kolva describes Olmsted’s philosophy on public parks as a combination of artistic endeavor and social experimentation, intended to encourage commonality between the Gilded Age’s super rich and the majority of America’s working and middle classes.

    In an era where comfort and wealth were enjoyed by a select few, parks supporters sought to provide natural and orderly public spaces to improve social order.

    John Olmsted, father of Frederick L. Olmsted, Sr., n.d. Olmsted Archives photograph.

    Frederick Law Olmsted was born in 1822 to Charlotte Law Olmsted and her husband John, a successful Connecticut merchant. Fred’s mother died when he was only 4 years old, leaving his father to raise him and his brother, John Jr., alone.

    Fred left at age 16 to attend Phillips Academy, and upon graduating moved to New York City where he found work as a merchant and journalist before purchasing land in Staten Island at age 26 to try his hand at farming.

    Frederick Law Olmsted in 1850, approximately two years after moving to Staten Island. University of California Libraries collection

    While experimenting with various farming techniques on Staten Island, Olmsted developed an affinity for horticulture and landscape design. In 1859, Frederick married his departed brother John’s widow, Mary Cleveland Perkins, and adopted her three children, John Charles, Owen, and Charlotte. The couple later had three children of their own: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., John Theodore and Marion.

    By the time Frederick Olmsted Sr. and Calvert Vaux won the design contest for Central Park in 1865, Frederick was 43 years old. His children and step-children became involved in the firm during the 1880s, with Olmsted eventually retiring in 1895 at age 73.

    John Charles Olmsted, n.d. F.L. Olmsted National Historic Site photograph.

    John Charles Olmsted graduated from Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School and was active in the family’s firm from 1884 until his death in 1920. John instituted modern office management techniques within the business while convincing municipal planners across the country that comprehensive park systems were indispensable components of 20th century American cities.

    Frederick Law Olmsted, Junior, ca.1890. National Park Service photograph.

    Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was born on Staten Island and educated at Harvard University, where he graduated in 1894. Like his brother John, Fred Jr. joined the family firm in 1897, and during his 50-year tenure worked on thousands of projects.

    F.L. Olmsted Jr.’s advocacy for a national chain of parks was instrumental in formulating the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act, whose purpose he stated was, “To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects, and the wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

    National Parks Organic Act of 1916. National Archives and Records Administration.

    Guided Growth

    John Charles and Frederick Jr. worked together to complete statewide surveys aimed at identifying potential parklands. Building up the company to a staff of 60 employees, the Olmsteds championed the City Beautiful movement. This Progressive reform philosophy stressed that aesthetically pleasing built-environments led to positive social change, particularly among the those residing in America’s crowded urban centers.

    Plan for Maplewood Memorial Park, October 11, 1926. Brinley & Holbrook collection, NJHGC.

    The City Beautiful model called for adopting urban master plans that included small neighborhood parks, larger city parks, and suburban nature reserves, in addition to public art and the banning of billboards and other offensive nuisances.

    Park-goers enjoyed fresh air and natural surroundings while socializing with neighbors and learning to become civic-minded individuals in a supervised public space. To Progressives, this was a much-improved alternative to other 19th century forms of entertainment: The saloon, dance hall, and any number of venues where youth and vice roamed free.

    “Sketch of proposed Maplewood athletic field”, South Orange Record, April 2, 1920. Brinley & Holbrook collection, NJHGC.

    The corollary to the City Beautiful Movement was the City Efficient Movement, which encouraged the creation of new zoning laws and subdivision regulations to guide city planning in the United States, particularly as wealthy and middle-class residents flooded into new suburban subdivisions after the First and Second World Wars.

    Branch Brook Park: the first county park

    Lake in Branch Brook Park – Newark Souvenir Folder, 1937. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    Branch Brook Park holds the distinction of being the first public county park ever constructed in the United States, and it remains one of New Jersey’s most majestic. It was built during the late 1800s in the working-class neighborhood of northern Newark, and anchored to the south by Barringer High School and the Cathedral of the Sacred Basilica.

    Branch Brook Park, Newark, winter scene, ca1900. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    This 359-acre oasis runs four miles north to south and is approximately a quarter-mile wide, featuring meadowlands, lakes, woods, and open fields. A meandering parkway guides pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles along its central corridor, which has, since the 1920s, been lined with thousands of cherry trees donated by Caroline Bamberger Fuld, a prominent Newark philanthropist and sister to department store magnate Louis Bamberger.

    Military Park, ca.1910. Prior to the City Beautiful Movement, many of America’s public parks originated as militia training grounds or town commons where livestock grazed. Newark’s citizen soldiers trained at military park from 1667 until after the Revolutionary War, when it was converted into a public park. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    Branch Brook Park began with a much more modest history. The former Civil War Army training ground was previously known as Old Blue Jay Swamp, the site of a private water reservoir to the South and tenement housing on its northern end. Its life as a park began in 1895 when the city transferred the first 60 acres of land to the Essex County Park Commission.

    Branch Brook Park, Newark, Park Avenue Bridge, ca1910. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    The Commission initially hired landscape designers John Bogart and Nathan Barrett, who presented a geometrical Romantic series of gardens, but supporters disapproved and hired the Olmsted firm to create a more naturalistic interpretation that featured native species situated among four distinct sections.

    Branch Brook Park, Newark, North park, ca1900. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    By the 1920s, Newark’s most affluent families had begun to move from their city residences to larger estates in nearby suburban territories. This offered city leaders an opportunity to increase Branch Brook Park’s footprint. From 1924 to 1929, 50 additional acres of land were acquired, primarily from the Ballantine and Heller families, and the transaction was commemorated by the Ballantine Gateway on the park’s east side.

    Branch Brook Park, Newark, east side park, ca1900. Olmsted made careful use of trees, shrubbery, and earthen berms to obscure large portions of the surrounding city from parkgoers. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    Both John Charles Olmsted and F.L. Olmsted Jr. worked directly on Branch Brook Park’s layout and left ample notes on proposed landscaping plans. Among their design flourishes was the use of an artificial berm along the perimeter to disguise neighboring properties. This provided the illusion that the park’s outer borders fronted onto woodland and shrubs – at least as long as the viewer’s gaze avoided any tall buildings in the distance.

    “A Chain of Beautiful Parks”, New York Times, April 6,1902. Morristown & Morris Township Library collections.

    A June 1901 article in the New York Times noted that despite the park’s still incomplete state, it had become a busy destination for city residents, including a recent cricket match between the Newark Cricket Club and the Kings Country Club of Brooklyn.

    During the 1920s, Harmon Hendricks donated 20 acres of his estate to the Parks Commission, which extended Branch Brook Park’s territory all the way to the neighboring town of Bellville’s southern border. Today, this tract includes a large concentration of the park’s blossoming cherry trees, whose number far exceeds those along the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.

    Eagle Rock Reservation

    Eagle Rock in winter from Mountain Ave, 1915. NJHGC collections.

    Spanning over 400 acres, Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange rests atop the Watchung Mountains with views overlooking Montclair, the Oranges, and New York City’s skyline. Acquisition of the land began in 1895, with the Olmsted firm providing a more nuanced landscape plan. The ensuing layout maintained the existing maple and red oak woodlands, while supplanting some existing species with pine and hemlock.

    Hiking path in Eagle Rock from postcard, ca.1898. NJHGC collections.

    Regrading work at Eagle Rock followed Olmsted Firm directions, as did construction of the main entrance, shelter house, community fireplace, pavilion, and an open-air event space known as “the Casino” that today serves as Highlawn Pavilion restaurant. Other improvements included construction of bridle paths, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a baseball diamond.

    The Hundred Steps at right with horse and buggy alongside trolley tracks approaching Mountain Ave, ca1905. NJHGC collections.

    An 1894 extension of the Orange trolley line brought visitors up the steep hill via Washington Street, while early automobile owners drove all the way to the main entrance from Eagle Rock Avenue. Adventurous hikers climbed the 100 steps to Eagle Rock’s pristine cliffside views of northeastern New Jersey towards Manhattan.

    The manicured grounds and gardens of Morris County

    Cedar Court, panoramic view of house, ca. 1900. Historic photograph collections, NJHGC.

    The architecture firm of Carrere & Hastings built Otto Kahn’s estate in Morris Township. However, topographic records held at the Olmsted Archives note the Olmsted firm conducted the initial land surveys that guided overall work on the grounds.

    Cedar Court, entrance from Columbia turnpike, ca. 1910. Historic photograph collections, NJHGC.

    Situated on the corner of Park Avenue and Columbia Turnpike in Morris Township, Cedar Court served as the country estate of New York financier Otto H. Kahn from 1897 to 1920. Twin Italianate mansions crowned the expansive 260-acre property. Morristown landscaping firm Brinley and Holbrook designed specific elements within the grounds, including stables, tennis courts, and an 18-hole golf course.

    Normandy Heights, Residence of Mr. Otto Kahn, 1911. Historic photograph collections, NJHGC.

    With homes in London and New York City, Otto and his wife Adelaide Wolff moved their country home to the north shore of Long Island in 1920, in keeping with the wave of wealthy residents relocating to the newly fashionable destination. The subsequent sale of Cedar Court resulted in demolition of the Twin Italianate mansions in 1937. Allied Chemical Company purchased the land for use as its headquarters before itself being acquired by Honeywell. Today, the estate’s rolling hills continue to offer a romantic glimpse into Morris Township’s past.

    “The Grove”, n.d. NJHGC collections.

    In Morristown, Frederick Law Olmsted designed the grounds of “the Grove,” a private residence located at 71 Macculloch Ave. Built in 1865 and purchased in 1901 by Mr. and Mrs. C. Wicliffe Throckmorton, the Second Empire-style house, complete with its trendy mansard roof, reflected the type of architecture that was popular in Morristown during the mid-19th century.

    Twombly Estate, Florham, ca 1910, Madison, NJ. Historic postcard collection, NJHGC.

    In 1897, heiress Florence Vanderbilt and her husband, financier Hamilton McKown Twombly, built their country estate “Florham” in Madison, NJ. They hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to design the mansion, farms and dairy, with the Olmsted Firm completing the landscape design. The estate sat amidst well-tended gardens and specimen plantings. In 1958 the property was acquired by Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is known today as the College at Florham.

    For the public good and private enjoyment

    Main entrance to Cadwalader Park, n.d. Trenton Public Library photograph.

    During the late 1880s, Trenton entrepreneur and resident Edmund C. Hill proposed a grand public park befitting his city’s status as a major manufacturing center, while also encouraging construction of upscale suburban housing for Trenton’s affluent residents. The resulting development of Cadwalader Heights remains New Jersey’s only residential neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

    Edmund Hill, Dorothy Hill, and Elbridge Weir at Cadwalader Mansion. Trenton Public Library photograph.

    Edmund Hill made Cadwalader Park the centerpiece of his tenure on the Trenton Common Council, a position he held for three terms. Hill championed an 1888 ordinance authorizing $60,000 to acquire 80-acres from the George Farlee estate near Ewing Township.

    Later that year the council purchased an additional 75 acres from Thomas Cadwalader. Local residents found the existing grounds so attractive that they began frequenting the site before construction of the formal parklands even began.

    Preliminary plan for Cadwalader Park by FL Olmsted and Co, September 17, 1891. Trenton Public Library collections.

    Trenton hired the Olmsted firm in 1890 to create a unified landscape design for the two properties. By 1890, F.L. Olmsted was already preoccupied with work on the grounds of Stanford University’s new campus, as well as the 6,000-acre Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Nevertheless, the firm completed its plans for Cadwalader Park by September 1891.

    Trentonians’ pride on Cadwalader Park is evident from its inclusion in the Pictorial History of Trenton, reprinted from The Trenton Times Newspapers, 1929. NJHGC collections.

    The park was immensely popular among Trenton’s 60,000 residents. Within a week of its opening, 5,000 people visited, and by the next weekend another 10,000 followed suit to picnic, play ball, and enjoy the natural surroundings. Working-class families and tradesmen — used to living in cramped city apartments — all made good use of their time at Cadwalader Park alongside the city’s affluent and middle-class.

    Ivy Court ad in the Sunday Times Advertiser, March 3,1920. Trenton Public Library collections.

    The surrounding neighborhood of Cadwalader Heights was established in 1907, and featured homes built in the Craftsmen, Colonial Revival, Tudor, and English Manor styles. Olmsted proposed that well-planned communities set amidst natural beauty would create a more unified and harmonious citizenry. This was a half-century before suburban “Levittown’s” sought to aid the assimilation of America’s post-World War II families.

    Several residential plots in Cadwalader Heights border the park in the upper right corner of this map, and follows the naturalistic winding roadways that Olmsted preferred over the gridiron pattern used in older portions of the city at left. 1930 Real Estate Book of the City of Trenton and Borough of Princeton, Mercer County, NJ. Rutgers University Libraries collection.

    Unlike nearby residential developments, Olmsted’s layout avoided the rigid gridiron patterns in favor of meandering tree-lined roads set aside manicured parkland. By the 1920s, Cadwalader Heights population included prominent entrepreneurs, business leaders, and a variety of professionals ranging from commerce to the arts. Over the past century, the Trenton enclave developed into a solidly middle-class tight knit neighborhood of proud homeowners.

    Two centuries have elapsed since Frederick Law Olmsted was born to a small Connecticut family, and throughout his life he established a monumental legacy of creating natural beauty amidst some of the nation’s most densely populated spaces.

    The Parks Beautiful movement held grand designs for greater social cohesion and uplift that may have proved far too lofty. Yet the work of individuals like Olmsted and Vaux  nevertheless has resulted in immeasurable enjoyment by millions of Americans.


    ·       Glenn Modica, Cadwalader Heights: The History of an Olmsted Neighborhood, Bucks Digital Printing, 2007

    ·       Jeanne Kolva, Olmsted Parks in New Jersey, Schiffer Publishing; Atglen, PA, 2011

    ·       Dennis N. Bertland, Historic Sites Survey of the Town of Morristown, New Jersey; Morristown & Morris Township Library, 1981

    ·       Pat Fiaschetti, “Olmsted’s Idealistic Enclave in Cadwalader Heights,” New Jersey Monthly, Sept 8, 2015

    ·       Barbara Hoskins, Morris Township, NJ: a Glimpse into the Past, Joint Free Public Library of Morristown and Morris Township, NJ, 1987

    ·       Historic Newspaper Collections, North Jersey History & Genealogy Center (NJHGC)

    ·       Historic Postcard Collection, NJHGC

    ·       Vertical Files, NJHGC

    ·       Olmsted Online.

    For a behind the scenes look at our collections and additional information on New Jersey history, follow us on Twitter @NJHistoryCenter and Facebook; and read our other articles here. 

  • 08/16/2022 2:16 PM | Kathleen Avitt (Administrator)

    Morris Parks Skating Program Rates No. 1 in New Jersey

    August 10, 2022, 6:19 pm | in

    Morris Parks Skating Program Rates No. 1 in New Jersey

    “Learn To Skate USA” Honors Mennen Arena Learn To Skate Program


    The Morris County Park Commission’s skating program at the Mennen Sports Arena is being honored by the national Learn to Skate USA organization, which has ranked it No. 1 in New Jersey.

    Learn to Skate announced the ranking in an Aug. 4, 2022 letter noting the Morris County skating program enrolled 1,242 skaters this year into the affiliated Mennen Learn to Skate program. The achievement will land the Mennen Arena program a highlight in the Winter Issue of the Learn to Skate USA Magazine and the October Issue of SKATING Magazine, where the Morris County program will be shared with all members of U.S. Figure Skating.

    “To be acknowledged by Learn to Skate USA for the Arena’s Learn to Skate Program is a testament to the dedicated professional skate instructors, arena staff and the participants who will benefit from learning a skill that will allow for low impact physical activity for a lifetime,” said David Helmer, Executive Director of the Morris County Park Commission.

    Learn to Skate USA is a world-recognized educational program that promotes skating nationally. It is supported by U.S. Figure Skating, USA Hockey and U.S. Speedskating, as well as the Special Olympics, the Professional Skaters Association and the U.S. Ice Rink Association.

    Learn to Skate USA offers a standardized curriculum designed to help skaters of all ages and abilities master the basics of ice skating through specially formulated pathways for preschoolers, older children, adults and skaters with disabilities.

    The William G. Mennen Sports Arena was built in 1973 on donated land in Morris Township and it was opened to the public on January 12, 1975 with only one ice surface and permanent seating for 2,500 spectators. In 1986, a second ice surface was completed and in 2002, a third ice surface was completed.

    Mennen Sports Arena now receives over 1 million visitors annually, and has hosted everyone from National Hockey League players and Olympic champion skaters to world class tennis players and pop-music stars at the many events held in nearly 50 years of operations.

    Learn more about the Mennen Arena at MorrisParks.Net.

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