Hillsdale Environmental Commission

Natural Resource and Preservation Hillsdale, NJ

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Plastic Free July

The concept of a Plastic Free July started in Australia almost 10 years ago. The idea is very simple… get people to pledge to spend just one month trying to rid the world of plastics. Once you try and see how good you feel and the good you are doing, you will never go back!

Check out their website, plasticfreejuly.org, for many ideas and where you can start reducing plastic waste at home, school, the office and more. Or you can try starting by eliminating what is considered to be the big four in your own life: plastic shopping/grocery bags, plastic straws, plastic water bottles and ‘disposable’ coffee cups.

  • Plastic bags – aside from grocery shopping where you should be using a reusable bag (and saving a few cents at some stores), did you ever go into a store, buy one small item and have the clerk start to put that small item into a plastic bag? Just say ‘No bag, thank you! Save the earth!’
  • Plastic straws – state before your order that you do not need a straw and have your own reusable straw with you. Suggest to the store that they only give straws on request. There are many such straws available and some are even collapsible so they can with you at all times! Kick the Plastic Straw Habit
  • Plastic water bottle – stainless steel, glass, aluminum reusable bottles can all replace those single use water bottles. Who likes the taste of plastic in their water anyway?
  • ‘Disposable’ coffee cups – It used to be easier to have the stores refill your mug before the days of Covid-19, but remember that even those paper cups (forget about Styrofoam) are not recyclable because of their plastic lining. Brew and bring your own in a reusable mug or maybe take a break from the caffeine and drink some lemon water from your reusable water bottle instead!

Think of it as a fun (yet educating) project for the family this summer. Think of it as just doing the right thing for the planet.

For mote information and to take the challenge, see the plasticfreejuly.org website : Take the Challenge


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A Very Different Earth Day – 2020

For those of us old enough, it is hard to believe that it has been 50 years since peace activist John McConnell from California first suggested a day to honor our earth and Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin proposed a national day of environmental education  – Earth Day – to be held on April 22nd.

Whether born from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, or the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil spill or combination of those and other environmental activisms of the 1960’s, Earth Day has served to remind us all how precious our little planet is. The fight to save it is as urgent as ever. Despite myriad successes there are times it feels like we take two steps forward and one (or more) steps back.

This year the 50th Earth Day will also be different for obvious reasons.  But don’t let social distancing stop you from celebrating, sharing and doing your part!

  • Find a digital event at : https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/#map
  • Plant native flowers or a veggie garden; call Marsala Hardware or Bergen County Garden Center in Hillsdale for seeds and supplies
  • Read up on composting and start a compost bin
  • Build a water garden
  • Cut back on plastics
  • Search online for a native tree that is a perfect fit for your backyard and call a local contractor for ordering and installation

Celebrate Earth Day but remember our everyday actions are the true measure of our commitment. Let us know how you spent your Earth Day 2020.


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Storm Recovery for Trees

In the aftermath of a storm, we must first take care of tree damage that poses a risk to lives and properties.  When the dust settles we must then deal with less severe tree damage caused by these increasingly violent and frequent storms. The Arbor Day Foundation has shared the following information regarding post storm recovery for our trees. Please be sure to visit their page on STORM RECOVERY FOR TREES.

For more information, contact:
Danny Cohn, 402-473-9563dcohn@arborday.org

Arbor Day Foundation Offers Post-Storm Tree Recovery Resources to Homeowners in Wake of Disaster

Lincoln, Neb. (03/12/2018)In the wake of a storm, the first priority is to protect life, safety and property. But once the emergency response has ended, addressing damage to neighborhood trees becomes central to long-term recovery.

The Arbor Day Foundation offers resources on how to properly assess damage to trees and provide needed care through a comprehensive Storm Recovery Kit. The kit contains both written materials and videos, and broadcast-quality DVDs are available upon request.

The Foundation’s materials address the dual priorities of both responding to present disasters and becoming better prepared for future storms. Key tips include:

  • Don’t panic. If a tree is not an immediate hazard, it is usually okay to wait a few weeks or months before making your final decision.
  • Seek professionals. To find an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, visit treesaregood.org/findtreeservices/FindTreeCareService.aspx.
  • Watch out for scam artists. After a storm, it is common for people claiming to be tree specialists to show up offering their services.
  • Follow best practices. If you decide to care for a damaged tree yourself, be sure to follow proper safety precautions and best practices.
  • Prepare trees for future storms. With proper care, severe damage to trees and property can be prevented.

“Trees are assets to a community when properly planted and maintained,” said Dan Lambe, president, Arbor Day Foundation. “They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood or shopping district, increase property values by up to 18%, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits.”

The Foundation suggests hiring professionals to evaluate tree damage but be cautious of people knocking on doors offering to remove or repair your trees. Most of these door-to-door workers lack the proper training and expertise.

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Bergen County Parks Master Plan – follow up meetings scheduled in May.

The second series of Community Meetings to be held May 9-11 will allow all interest Bergen County residents to discuss conceptual ideas for the parks using what was learned from previous public sessions & more than 2100 survey responses!

This is your opportunity to voice any ideas, concerns and desires for the future of County parks.

Information Flyer

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Rain Lessens Drought Conditions

But wise water use is always encouraged

TRENTON – Following months of sufficient precipitation, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today lifted a drought warning for 12 of 14 counties in the northern, central and northern coastal regions of New Jersey and removed a drought watch for four counties in the southwestern part of the state.

Commissioner Martin signed an Administrative Order removing, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Sussex, Union and Warren counties from drought warning status and removing Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties from drought watch. These advisories had been in place since October.

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Deer & the Residential Landscape

Mitigating Deer in the Residential Landscape – 3 Alternatives for Homeowners

  1. Plant deer resistant plantsVisit the Rutgers NJAES website or CLICK HERE
    • Effective in low to moderate deer population areas
    • Moves problem somewhere else
    • Plants may not be native, impact on other native wildlife
    • Few ornamentals classified as rarely damaged
    • Few plants are truly deer resistant
  1. Use Repellants
    • Costly, requiring reapplication often
    • Impractical for large areas
    • Effectiveness varies on availability of other food, deer hunger, rainfall (need to reapply), attractiveness of plants to deer
    • Should be used with other methods
    • May cause plant damage
    • Less effective in high deer populations
    • Problem will continue to escalate
  1. Install  Fencing (exclusion)

Fence individual plants (tubes, netting, caging plants)

  • Labor intensive to install
  • Use of tubes can be deadly to birds
  • Good for smaller areas
  • Can be highly successful for individual specimens

Fence the perimeter (fence needs to be 6’ high or double fence spaced 4’ apart)

  • Costly
  • May need ongoing maintenance
  • Aesthetics change
  • Commercial netting can be cheaper and effective for low deer populations
  • Stockade fences can add to deer trepidation about jumping fence
  • Consider angled or double fencing which deer may have a harder time jumping
  • Town permits & ordinances must be observed and obtained
  • Fence with high-tensile woven wire effective (wire atop 6 foot fence to height of 8’)

Electric fencing

  • Not recommended due to harm to other people, wildlife.
  • Considered a short term solution unless continually enforced

See our Deer 101 for details.

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Your opinion matters – Bergen County Parks


OverPeck County Park

If you believe in keeping our Bergen County parks among the best in the state; in preserving and protecting the natural areas they contain now and in the future, we urge you to participate in the Rutgers study for the Bergen County Parks Master Plan.

OUR county parks are important to wildlife. Birds like the Bald Eagle, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon have made a comeback due in part to the protection of our park system.

OUR county parks are also important to our quality of life here in Bergen County. They are a place to enjoy nature, an area for public recreation and education, a place to provide communal spirit as well as a way to ensure open space.

Should the parks be less commercialized? More accessible? Have better amenities and improved public facilities and recreation? Please CLICK HERE FOR THE QUICK SURVEY.  It is both anonymous and quick!

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Firewood Quarantine from NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued a quarantine for residents of New Jersey advising them against the transportation of wood or ash trees outside of the area of origination.

This is due to the increasing threat of the emerald ash borer and the spreading of the EAB by movement of wood while the beetle is in its pre-pupae stage.  When warm weather arrives in spring, the beetle emerges, leaving behind its trademark ‘D’ shaped hole. Most of the damage done by the EAB is done in the larva stage as they feed on the tree creating winding ‘S’ shape patterns, known as galleries, under the bark.

The Emerald Ash Borer, non-native pest, is known to stay within one mile of its host tree and can survive winter temperatures down to -22 F.

Hillsdale is one of the towns in Bergen County that has confirmed EAB presence.

See our Emerald Ash Borer page for information on the quarantine as well as links to more information about the EAB.

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State’s old, leaky water pipes crumbling beneath us

James M. O’Neill , Staff Writer, @JamesMONeill1 7:37 p.m. EST December 2, 2016

Story by : NorthJersey.com (The Record)

The people who study and repair the pipes that transport your drinking water beneath New Jersey streets want to let you know what those pipes look like these days.

It’s not pretty.

“Our folks are digging up old terra cotta and wooden pipes,” said Anthony Attanasio, executive director of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association. “You should see some of the scary things we’ve seen – in some cases the dirt compacted around the pipes is all that’s keeping the pipes together.

“The problem is enormous, and what we feel is necessary is a statewide capital plan.”


Read more……


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Drought Conditions Worsen

A public hearing to consider escalating to a drought warning for NJ’s 12 norther counties is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Millburn Free Public Library auditorium, 200 Glen Avenue in Millburn.

A drought warning for the following 12 counties — in which millions of New Jerseyans rely on the public water supply — could be issued as early as Thursday: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, and Union. Those counties have been under a DEP-issued drought watch since July. In addition, the DEP has expanded the drought watch to include Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Monmouth, Ocean, and Salem counties. All but three counties — Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland — are under a formal drought designation.

A drought watch seeks voluntary water conservation; the more serious drought warning enables the DEP to require water purveyors to take action to conserve and secure drinking water sources.

Please ask your municipal officials and public works departments to skip lawn watering and post the drought watch declaration on your municipal website and community bulletin boards.

ANJEC recommends water conservation throughout the Garden State. Groundwater sources and streams are classified as moderately, severely or extremely dry for the remainder of the state outside of the drought watch area.

Please conserve water by:

  • Forgoing lawn watering or watering lawns and outdoor plants no more than 2-3 times per week for no more than 30 minutes. This allows the soil to absorb the water and enables roots to grow more deeply, which encourages drought tolerance;
  • Never water during the heat of the day, as this promotes evaporation and leads to water waste; water in early morning hours instead.
  • For more water saving tips, visit: http://www.sjwatersavers.org/

Ask Governor Christie to release the Water Supply Plan
Christie sits on water plan as N.J.’s drought affects drinking water

Join the SaveH2OCoalition’s efforts and sign the petition to the Governor at: http://www.saveh2onj.org/sign-the-petition/

Puiblished by ANJAC 10/19/2016 :  email : info@anjec.org