November 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. For past issues of our newsletter please click here.

OCSCD Staff Participate in USDA-NRCS Training
Last month, District staff members attended a training organized by NJ USDA-NRCS (United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service) held at the Plant Materials Center (PMC) in Cape May Court House. Staff members from NRCS, multiple conservation districts and other partner agencies attended this collaborative training. The morning started off with presentations by Joe Lomax, Cape Atlantic Conservation District Supervisor and Chris Miller, Manager of the PMC. Mr. Lomax explained the unique landscapes and ecosystems that Cape May County is home to, as well as natural phenomena such as the migration timing of Red knots, a shorebird that is federally listed as threatened, to coincide with the spawning of Horseshoe crabs. Mr. Miller explained how the Cape May PMC, one of 26 nationwide, was founded after the 1962 Nor’easter, with a need for coastal dune grass research and development that would aid in restoring our coastlines. After the presentations, Mr. Miller led a tour of the seed cleaning building and machinery, greenhouse and fields at the PMC where different studies are being conducted. Currently, the PMC is monitoring the growth of Sea Oats, a native of southern coastal states that may be used in NJ for future dune restoration projects, as well as the salinity tolerances of multiple cordgrass species, such as Spartina patens. 
After lunch, attendees heard from Adam DeWolfe, NRCS Soil Scientist about the different soil survey projects being undertaken in NJ, as well as subaqueous projects; a subaqueous soil is a somewhat permanently submerged soil with a positive water potential at the soil surface for more than 21 hours of each day. Subaqueous soil surveys have been completed for the Barnegat Bay and Shrewsbury River, and are planned for the Great Bay and Mullica River. For additional information and data, please visit our website’s projects page. The day wrapped up with a presentation by Fred Schoenagel, NRCS Resource Soil Scientist, who discussed different soil types throughout NJ, soil parent material, properties, limitations, and acid soils. Lastly, Mr. Schoenagel gave a demonstration using a Geoprobe, a hydraulically powered percussion/probing machine used to take soil samples at a defined depth. Photos by Kristin Adams
In The Field with OCSCD Staff
Straw Mulch - Leaf Litter for a Construction Site
The weather cools and the days become shorter, autumn has arrived in New Jersey. The many deciduous trees are transforming. As the leaves fall, they form a blanket on the ground, protecting the soil and plant roots from the weather to come. This ritual performed by nature every year is a sustainable cycle of nutrients and energy. The trees use nutrients from the soil during the growing season and put the nutrients back into the soil when they drop their leaves every fall. The NJ Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control apply conservation practices to urban development. The Standard for Stabilization with Mulch Only mimics nature's leaf litter to protect exposed soil surfaces from erosion damage on a construction site. As per the Standard, this mulch shall be small-grain straw uniformly spread 90 – 115 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The straw mulch will provide temporary protection against wind or rainfall induced soil erosion until permanent vegetative cover can be established. The mulch shall be anchored immediately after placement to minimize loss by wind or water. Anchoring techniques can be liquid mulch binders, crimping or netting. Some construction sites will choose to use wood chips, gravel, or paper mulch as a method for mulch only stabilization, these are described within the Standard. Whether it’s a construction site, forest floor, or farm field, stabilizing exposed soils is vital to soil health. The Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control take their cues from nature and mimic as best they can the processes that protect our soil resources and ultimately, our water resources. 
Partner Update with Stockton University
Sampling Stockton's Mill Creek Reef
Last month, staff and students from Stockton University conducted the first sampling of the newly established Mill Creek Reef since the initial planting in August 2022. Kristin Adams, OCSCD, joined Dr. Christine Thompson and Steve Evert as they made the 1-hour boat trip from the Stockton University Marine Field Station on Nacote Creek north to the reef site. Sampling of the reef was done using a dredge that was pulled behind the boat to collect several samples. Each piece of recycled shell (reef substrate) was then analyzed on the boat to determine the number of live oysters, their size (length), and signs of predation by oyster drills. Photo by Susan Allen
While on the reef, water quality measurements were taken and the long-term water quality monitoring device was switched out, the data to be uploaded in the lab. The image above shows a recycled surf clam shell with oyster spat (oyster larvae that has attached to the shell) that was part of the planting in August, whereas the photo on the right is a recycled surf clam shell sampled in October, displaying the significant growth of the juvenile oysters in just two short months. The Mill Creek Reef is one of three possible reef locations to receive live oysters and cultch (spat on shell) through the District’s newly funded COASTAL project, and the monitoring techniques used during this sampling will be used to monitor the restoration reefs throughout the duration of the COASTAL project. The District looks forward to continued partnership with Stockton University. Photo by Kristin Adams
Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program
Enroll in a New Certification Program for a Healthy Environment and Bay
The Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP) invites residents, schools, and municipalities in the Barnegat Bay watershed to enroll in a new environmental stewardship program. The Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program guides property owners in landscaping practices for a healthy environment and recognizes them as protectors of the Barnegat Bay. The many benefits to becoming certified include a healthy yard for people and wildlife, cost savings by using low-maintenance land care practices, cleaner water and a healthier environment for the entire community, the opportunity to be a local leader in environmental stewardship, and recognition for achieving certification. The BBP received a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to develop this new Certification Program. Participants in the Jersey-Friendly Yards Certification Program will learn how to use land stewardship practices to reduce sources of pollution, conserve water supplies, and create valuable habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. The BBP’s Jersey-Friendly Yards website provides comprehensive resources and online tools for participants to use to achieve certification. There are three separate certification tracks – one for Residents, one for Schools, and one for Municipalities – which are designed to complement each other from the individual to community level. For more information about becoming certified, visit the website to apply or contact Karen Walzer at
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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: