February 2022
In 2022 we celebrate the 70th year of the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. We remain committed to building and sustaining a conservation legacy by working with our partners and constituents to conserve, protect and restore our soil, water and natural resources by providing technical assistance, implementing restoration projects, and most importantly through education.
Our Love Affair with Soil
We Love Soil!
Soil is the foundation of all life on Earth! Soil ensures our food supply, filters our drinking water, provides us with antibiotics, and gives us a foundation on which to build our homes. Soil stores our fuel, cleans-up our toxic waste, stores CO2, preserves human artifacts and keeps a journal of time. Soil is Life! We would not survive without soil. This Valentine's Day, give some love to the soil and experience all the ways soil loves you back!
Photo: Example of Spodosol soil in coniferous woodland. Credit: John Kelley, Open Soil Science, (Creative Commons Open Source License).

Our Roots Run Deep! Celebrating 25 Years of Connections, Culture & Conservation

Since 1997, the Ocean County Soil Conservation District has been hosting this much anticipated annual event. The Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable is a professional development engagement designed for educators to enhance their knowledge of local natural resources, culture and history. Educators choose from an array of workshops or field trips and glean valuable tools and resources that support the development of environmental stewardship in the students they teach.

For the past two years the Roundtable was offered in virtual format. In 2022, we return to an in-person event to celebrate 25 years of shared learning experiences that root us to the land, to the community, and to each other. 

For this year's Keynote, we will feature the Kiss the Ground film in an outdoor setting. Bonfire, telescopes for star-gazing, and popcorn included!

The Barnegat Bay Environmental Educators Roundtable will take place outside at Jakes Branch County Park, on April 27. Open House begins at 2:30pm, festivities conclude with Door Prizes at 8:30pm. Registration required. Visit our Environmental Educators Roundtable webpage to learn more. For questions, please contact Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, education@soildistrict.org. We hope you will join us!
Brittany Moore, Erosion Control Specialist, OCSCD, Craig McGee, District Director, Camden County SCD, Georgie Grieb, Inspector II, OCSCD and Alex Augustino, Inspector I, OCSCD, inspect stormwater basins in Lakewood Township to determine additional candidates for basin retrofit implementation. Photo by Eileen Miller, Team Habitat Coordinator for South Jersey Resource & Development Council.
Inspecting for Germination

This winter Ocean and Camden County Soil Conservation District staff joined representatives from the South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council and Pinelands Nursery to further efforts in basin retrofit selection and design, and to assess the success of the May 2021 basin retrofit seeding at FirstEnergy Park, home of the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. The basin retrofit design included the seeding of native grasses, which can be relatively slow to germinate and often take multiple growing seasons to successfully colonize. Inspection found evidence of some of the earlier establishing native grasses planted including Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus). Other species within the seed mixture supplied by Pinelands Nursery such as Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) will likely show early signs of germination in Spring 2022. The basin is scheduled for reinspection in June 2022, to further monitor germination rates and determine if additional efforts such as overseeding, fertilizing or weeding will be needed. Photo: Steve Knezick of Pinelands Nursery and Craig McGee, District Director of Camden County Soil Conservation District inspect the stormwater basin at FirstEnergy Park for germination of native grasses seeded last spring. By Eileen Miller, Team Habitat Coordinator for South Jersey Resource & Development Council.

Maintenance of Native Grasses

A significant component for successful establishment of native vegetation is proper maintenance. Many newly established native grasses will not survive if mowed at heights below 4 inches and if mowed too frequently. Most native vegetation can be managed as naturalized stands requiring only one or two mowing operations per year, which helps reduce maintenance costs and emissions from maintenance equipment. However, it can be challenging for new users of native grasses to break the normal routine of weekly mowings. 

Another procedure that may be used to manage native vegetation once established includes the burning of naturalized areas. This technique avoids the vegetation being smothered by large amounts of clipping debris that can be generated by mowing naturalized areas. Burning or mowing of naturalized areas should also not be done between April 1st and July 15th to avoid disturbing ground nesting birds. Photo of native grasses by Eileen Miller, Team Habitat Coordinator for South Jersey Resource & Development Council.
Funding for the Lakewood Township Stormwater Basin Retrofit Project is provided through a Watershed Restoration grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Grant # WM20-008) granted to the South Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council in partnership with Ocean County Soil Conservation District, Camden County Soil Conservation District, and Lakewood Township Department of Public Works.
High Acid-Producing Soils in Ocean County
Standard for Management
High acid-producing soil on an active construction site. Photo by Georgie Grieb, Inspector II, OCSCD.
The Standard for Managing High Acid-Producing Soils
Protects People, Water and Landscapes

The gray-green soil in the photo indicates high acid-producing soil with a pH of 4 or less. The soil was uncovered during construction of this developed site. The Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (P.L. 1975, chapter 251, N.J.S.A. 4:24-39 et seq) provides regulatory guidelines for managing potentially harmful high acid-producing soils. Burying the soil with alkaline limestone and covering it with a minimum of 12 inches of settled soil with a pH of 5 or higher will protect onsite soils and offsite streams and lakes from sulfuric acid leachate. Soils with a pH of 4 or less are unsuitable for growth of vegetation. Areas where trees and shrubs are to be planted shall be covered with a minimum of 24 inches of soil with a pH of 5 or higher.
Acid Soils in New Jersey

A band of highly acidic soils are predominantly found within the inner coastal plain and parts of the outer coastal plain of south Jersey. Click to explore the NJDEP Bureau of GIS interactive map showing potential acid-producing (sulfate) sediments and their geologic formations. Soil pH is a measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) found in soil water, and indicates acidity or alkalinity. Soil acidity can be the result of naturally acidic parent material, it can occur through rainfall and leaching, or it can develop through the process of decomposition of organic matter which produces hydrogen ions. Soil is complex! But it's also truly amazing. For more information about the acid soil forming process visit the NJ Bureau of GIS website.
Poster Contest
Cash Prizes for All Grade Groups!

Healthy Soil Healthy Life

The NJ Conservation Poster Contest is open to all students in New Jersey from grades 2-12, and is categorized according to grade groups. At the county level, the Ocean County Soil Conservation District will declare a First Place winner for each grade group. First Place Winners receive a $50 prize. One Grand Champion Winner is selected among the First Place winners and is awarded an additional $50 prize. All First Place winning entries from Ocean County are submitted to the NJ Statewide Competition where they will compete for cash prizes. The First Place prize at the NJ Statewide Competition is $100, Second Place is $50 and Third Place receives $25. Winners from the Statewide Competition move on to compete in the Nationals. Deadline to submit Ocean County entries is March 10, 2022. Download the rules and entry form.
Jersey-Friendly Yards 2022 Webinar Series
Back to Basics: 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard!
Jersey-Friendly Yards was developed by the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP), with funding from NJDEP. The Jersey-Friendly Yards website provides comprehensive resources and tools about landscaping for a healthy yard and healthy environment in New Jersey. The Ocean County Soil Conservation District and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County are partnering with the BBP to offer educational programs about how you can make your yard more Jersey-Friendly!

This year’s webinar series reminds us that a Jersey-Friendly Yard doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Start small and start with the basics. Each program in this series ties-to one of the 8 Steps to a Jersey-Friendly Yard. Join us as we incorporate these basic components into our landscaping practices, resulting in a beautiful and healthy Jersey-friendly Yard!
February 8 - Step 1: Plan Before You Plant
There's a lot to think about before putting your shovel in the ground to create a garden, including the purpose for your garden, conditions at your site, and selection of appropriate plants. Whether planning a garden at home or at a community location, join us for some pointers on how to properly "Plan Before You Plant". Find out more about this program, or register.  (Photo: Rain Garden design for the Coastal Education Center, courtesy of OCSCD)
Schedule a Jersey-Friendly Yards Program for Your Group
Calling all Green Teams, Environmental Commissions and Garden Clubs! Is your "Green Group" interested in hosting a Jersey-Friendly Yards webinar for your constituents? Jersey-Friendly Yards partners will provide a free 1 hour webinar discussing the importance of landscaping for a healthy environment. We'll start by introducing the tools and resources on the Jersey-Friendly Yards website, explain how to get your soil tested, introduce water conservation practices, suggest appropriate native plants, and offer ways to attract and support pollinators and wildlife. Contact Karen Walzer kwalzer@ocean.edu and Becky Laboy education@soildistrict.org to schedule a program.
In Case You Missed It: Webinar Recordings
Unique Plants & Wildflowers of Barrens and Bogs
Join Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, OCSCD, on an exploration of some of her favorite native plants growing in sandy and boggy soils in New Jersey's International Biosphere Reserve. Program hosted by the Bergen-Passaic Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.
Landscaping for a Healthy Environment with Jersey-Friendly Yards
Join us for an exploration of the Jersey-Friendly Yards website. Then take a virtual garden tour and discover the native plants selected to attract pollinators, birds and other wildlife to a Jersey-Friendly garden. Hosted by the Great Swamp watershed Association.
Barnegat Bay Master Naturalist Program

The Naturalist - Winter '22 Issue

Ocean County Soil Conservation District is proud to support the Barnegat Bay Partnership's Master Naturalist Program including their seasonal newsletter, The Naturalist. Read the Winter '22 issue - hot off the press!
Contents in the Winter '22 issue include:
  • Winter Under the Barnegat Bay
  • Mother Nature M.D.
  • Species ID Quizzes
  • Blow-Out at IBSP, Part 2
  • Winter Waterfowl
  • Winter Composting
  • Microplastic Pollution
Catch-up on prior issues, found on the Barnegat Bay Partnership website.
Visit our website: www.SoilDistrict.org
For more information about education programs, events and projects pertaining to soil, water, native gardening and natural resource conservation, please contact Becky Laboy, M.Ed., Education Outreach Specialist, Ocean County Soil Conservation District: education@soildistrict.org.