Volunteer Spotlight: Monitoring Baby Bird Boxes & Counting Shorebirds

We’re excited to put the spotlight on Princeton Hydro Environmental Scientist Emily Bjorhus and her admirable volunteer work.

As an Environmental Scientist, Emily Bjorhus works on a wide range of projects from flood risk management to wetland mitigation to stream restoration. She specializes in wetland and stream ecology and environmental permitting and compliance. Outside of the office, Emily is an active volunteer with Natural Lands and the Delaware Shorebird Project, working to protect natural resources, promote biodiversity, and protect important species. Emily also volunteers at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, NY teaching Environmental Science students about wetlands. We’ve put together a snapshot of Emily’s volunteer activities:

Natural Lands – Force of Nature Volunteer

Natural Lands is a nonprofit organization that saves open space, cares for nature, and connects people to the outdoors in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Founded in the early 1950s, today nearly five million people live within five miles of lands under Natural Lands’ permanent protection.

As a Force of Nature volunteer with Natural Lands, Emily has been monitoring ~20 nest boxes located in meadow and forest edge habitat at Gwynedd Preserve since 2018. From April through mid-August, Emily and another volunteer visit the sites every 5-7 days to monitor the nest boxes for the types of species using the boxes, nest condition, nest materials, number of eggs laid, number of eggs that hatch, and number of chicks that fledge. Chickadees, wrens, blue birds, and tree swallows are the primary species that nest in the boxes Emily monitors.

When asked what she loves most about this volunteer work, Emily said, “I love watching how the birds build their nest week after week, seeing the eggs multiply and tracking the chicks’ growth. I even enjoy dodging dive-bombing tree swallows.”

Delaware Shorebird Project – Data Collection Volunteer

Delaware Shorebird Project is led by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Delaware Museum of Natural History, British Trust for Ornithology and Wash Wader Ringing Group, with the help of experienced and dedicated volunteers like Emily.

The project monitors the health and status of migratory shorebird populations to collect data that can be applied to the conservation of these birds. The research has resulted in better understanding of the ecology of shorebirds migrating through Delaware Bay, management of the horseshoe crab harvest to sustain the shorebirds’ population, and protection of key shorebird habitat.

Emily participated in a 3-day shorebird monitoring initiative, which included counting the number of shorebirds on the beach, re-sighting birds previously marked with leg flags, participating in bird catches, and weighing and measuring birds from the catches. The data collected helps monitor trends in shorebird abundance, migratory routes, condition and other important biological data.

“It’s such a pleasure working with the amazing people that come from all over the world to run and participate in this ambitious study,” said Emily. “The data collected from this program will hopefully aid researchers and policy makers to develop strategies to better protect shorebird habitat in the future.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School Environmental Studies – Guest Speaker

Ms. Hannah Goldstein and her Environmental Science students at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, NY welcome Emily as a volunteer guest speaker to teach all about wetlands. The instruction also includes a hands-on session where students collect soil samples to determine if hydric soils are present and identify surrounding trees using a dichotomous key.

“Science is such an important subject matter for kids to be learning for a variety of reasons. Environmental science education in particular encourages thought patterns, which get kids engaged in real-world environmental protection activities,” said Emily. “I really enjoy working with Ms. Goldstein and her students. I hope my presentation inspires the students to learn more about wetlands and become ambassadors of wetland conservation.”

 

Emily earned her M.S. in Sustainable Engineering at Villanova University and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of Colorado at Boulder. As an Environmental Scientist for Princeton Hydro, she coordinates, leads and assists with state environmental permitting programs and NEPA compliance and documentation, including preparation of Federal and state permit applications, Endangered Species Act 7 consultations, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) environmental review processes. In addition, she conducts a variety of environmental field investigations such as wetland and waterbody delineations.

We’re so proud to have Emily on our team and truly value the work she does inside and outside the office.

Spring Events Spotlight: Webinars, Virtual Conferences, and Contests

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a number of events to be canceled or postponed, and many events have been switched to a digital format. Here’s a snapshot of the events Princeton Hydro is participating in while social distancing this Spring:

April 20 – May 16: Sustainable South Jersey Photo Contest

Sustainable South Jersey (SSJ) is hosting a Spring Photo Contest. Starting this week through May 16, the organization will hold weekly Facebook photo contests with a different photo contest theme – this week’s theme is Nature Appreciation. The photo with the most shares at the end of the week will be declared the winner. Shares will be tallied at 5pm each Saturday and winners will be announced on social media each following Sunday. The winner each week will receive a $50 gift card and be featured on SSJ’s social platforms and website.

Fun Fact: Our Marketing and Communications Manager Dana Patterson is the Vice President of the Sustainable South Jersey Board of Directors!

Learn more & Register

 

April 23: *Free* Green Stormwater Infrastructure Regulatory Webinar

New Jersey recently changed how stormwater is managed; green infrastructure will be the method of addressing polluted stormwater runoff going forward. Within the next year, all of New Jersey’s municipalities will have to adopt new stormwater management ordinances. And after adoption, all new projects will have to meet the green infrastructure stormwater management requirements. On April 23 from 4 – 6 PM, The Watershed Institute will host a webinar during which a panel of experts, including Princeton Hydro’s Dr. Clay Emerson, will discuss what municipalities must do and what the new requirements will mean for design and review of projects.

Learn more & Register

 

May 2 – May 9: Musconetcong Watershed Association’s Virtual Run for the River

MWA’s 20th Annual Run for the River, a fundraiser that supports education and outreach programs, will be held virtually this year. For the past 19 years, this event has taken place in Asbury, NJ along the Wild & Scenic Musconetcong River. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, folks are invited to register online to run, walk, bike, paddle, or even fish to show your support for the Musconetcong River. Set your own goal, log your times, and see how you compare with others engaging in your favorite activity! The first 125 registrants will get a free medal, and all participants will receive a free tote bag. As a proud sponsor of this event, the Princeton Hydro team is excited to participate!

Learn more & Register

 

 May 27 – 29: Virtual 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo

Due to COVID-19, SAME has moved its 2020 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo (JETC) to a virtual format. The Virtual 2020 JETC will allow participants to tune-in live to all presentations and educational sessions, if their schedules allow. Alternatively, all sessions will be recorded so if you miss anything, you can access it at a later date. PDH credits will still be available for all education and training sessions!

Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll, P.E. is giving a presentation on Friday, May 29 from 9:45 – 10:45 AM about Innovative Wetland Mitigation. The presentation will focus on a project Princeton Hydro completed at Joint Base Andrews and will provide the roadmap for military bases and other federal facilities to ease the permitting process for expansion while following Clean Water Act guidelines.

Learn more & Register

 

The Following Spring Events Have Been Rescheduled Due to COVID-19
July 19 (Postponed from April 22): Stroud “Flow of Life” Film Premiere

Join Stroud Water Research Center for the premiere of “Flow of Life,” a documentary created by The Visionaries Public Television Series that is hosted by actor Sam Waterston and highlights the Stroud Center’s work. The film premiere will also include refreshments beginning at 4 PM and a post-film Q & A session with award-winning journalist and producer Jody Santos. Princeton Hydro is proud to sponsor this exciting event! 

Learn more & RSVP

 

September 17 (Postponed from May 7): SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event

The theme of this year’s SAME NJ Post Small Business Council Event is Cybersecurity. The event includes presentations from a variety of experts who will cover topics related to protecting your company from digital threats and meeting Government security requirements. The mission of SAME is to build leaders and lead collaboration among government and industry to develop multidisciplinary solutions to national security infrastructure challenges. Princeton Hydro joined SAME as a sustaining member in 2018.

Learn more & Register

 

September 19 (Postponed from March): WATERSHED CONGRESS ALONG THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER

Hosted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, this conference is a highly anticipated event for people in the Schuylkill Watershed and beyond interested in understanding, protecting, and restoring their local streams and watersheds. This year’s program features a keynote on community building and engagement efforts to move inclusively, build awareness, and activate urban youth and adults in water protection, as well as information-packed breakout sessions, presenter’s roundtables, poster sessions, and much more. Michael Hartshorne, Emily Bjorhus, and Cory Speroff of Princeton Hydro, a proud sponsor of the event, are giving a presentation on Stream, Floodplain, and Multi-Functional Riparian Buffer Restoration.

Learn more & Register

 

October 7 (Postponed from April 1): NJ Invasives Strike Team Annual Conference

Presented by the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and hosted by Duke Farms, the 12th Annual New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team Conference is considered the most comprehensive state-wide forum on invasive species. The conference encompasses insights from both academic research and field experience, and features practical demonstrations by land stewards in addition to formal presentations. Princeton Hydro, a sponsor of the conference, will be exhibiting. We look forward to seeing you there in October!

Learn more & Register
 …

STAY TUNED FOR MORE EVENT SPOTLIGHTS!

 

 

 

Employee Spotlight: Meet Our New Team Members

We’re excited to announce the hiring of four new team members! The addition of this group of talented individuals strengthens our commitment to delivering exceptional service.

Laura Craig, PhD, Director of Natural Resources

Dr. Laura “LC” Craig is an aquatic ecologist and restoration practitioner with more than ten years of experience working in river conservation both as the chief scientist at a national environmental nonprofit and as a restoration practitioner. She is a big picture thinker with extensive experience in science communication, strategic planning, metrics and evaluation, project and budget management, policy, fundraising, and public engagement. Laura’s specific areas of scientific expertise are aquatic ecology, river restoration theory and practice (especially dam removal), nutrient dynamics, and climate adaptation. Laura also has a keen interest in improving how we manage existing and emerging threats to rivers. Laura earned a B.S. in Biology from Susquehanna University and a PhD in Aquatic Ecology from University of Maryland-College Park.

Laura lives in Palmyra, New Jersey where she serves on Borough Council and the Land Use Board. In her free time, Laura goes to punk rock shows with her husband and relaxes on the beach in Asbury Park.

Lori Cooper, Accounting Assistant

Lori has a diverse professional background which includes acting as an animal health technician, Director of Children’s Programming for a community organization, human resource generalist, executive assistant and as an office manager. Her well-rounded experience has effectively utilized her creativity, organizational skills, attention to detail and strength at building relationships. Lori is thrilled to play a supporting role for a company that is making a positive impact on our environment.

Outside of work, Lori enjoys spending time with her family, climbing, gardening and volunteering with various charitable organizations that pull at her heartstrings.

Jerry Vogel, Aquatic Specialist

Jerry has experience in the stormwater, wastewater, and subsurface mapping. Prior to coming to Princeton Hydro, he worked as an Intern with the Economic Geology Division at the Pennsylvania Department of Energy using geophysical logs from abandoned oil and gas wells to map subsurface stratigraphy in the Western Regions of Pennsylvania. Jerry graduated in 2018 with a Bachelors in Earth and Environmental Science from Lehigh University. As an undergraduate, in addition to extensive geology and ecology related coursework, including extensive work involving the remote sensing of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, he completed a six-week geological field camp based in the Northern Rockies, Bighorn Basin, Tetons, Yellowstone, Montana and Idaho gaining a deep understanding of the natural world from basin to mountaintop.

Jerry has a passion for fishing, hiking and being outdoors with his wife and dog. He prides himself on being an environmental steward working to conserve, preserve, and restore nature so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

Tim Cutler, Aquatic Specialist

Tim is a member of Princeton Hydro’s Field Operations Practice Area. He has ten years of experience working on the water. He is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and served active duty from 2000-2005 as a Machinery Technician. For several years, Tim worked in emergency and marine spill response. He also has experience working with water quality analyzers as a Service Technician in the Power Generation field.

Outside of work, Tim enjoys being outdoors, seeing live music, going to the movies, and spending time with his wife and cats. He is also a drummer and illustrator in his spare time.

 

Learn more about our team.

 

 

 

Live Your “Why”: A Special Message from Princeton Hydro’s President

Friends of Princeton Hydro,

Welcome, Spring! As the sun shines through the window of my “remote office,” for a moment, I am able to set aside the pandemonium that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused, and feel the warmth of the season changing. As the native wildflowers emerge and spring migrants return, we are reminded that the environment persists on, even when society comes to a halt.

We, at Princeton Hydro, are heartbroken to see small businesses and nonprofits struggling to keep their doors open and operations running. As more “stay-at-home” and “non-essential closure” orders are issued across the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, I consider us lucky. As a professional service-based business, our firm performs engineering designs and scientific analyses, a majority of which can be conducted remotely. And, with offices spread across the Northeast, we were prepared for this moment, as we rely upon remote collaboration between offices on a daily basis.

But, it takes more than just having the technology at our fingertips. What enables success even more than working laptops and VPN connections is a motivated and dedicated staff. The people at Princeton Hydro live our mission and core values. They are determined to serve our clients and keep us open, and are the reason why I love going to work everyday. Our deep-seated, shared motivator, which we call our “why” statement, drives our productivity and engagement: “We are committed to changing our ecosystems, quality of life, and communities for the better.”

For those who are not familiar, a “why” statement is the most basic and elemental reason for “how” and “what” we do. Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, defines “why” as the firm’s purpose or belief. As Sinek states, most companies start with “what they do” and “how they do it” and very few can clearly articulate “why” they do what they do. Defining your “why” allows people to feel connected, like we belong to something bigger, because it aligns with our own values and beliefs.

We believe that starting with “why” enables Princeton Hydro to connect with our clients, hire the right staff, and build partnerships founded in our shared mission and values. It is that short and simple sentence which drives each and every person at Princeton Hydro to do the best they can, not only to meet client needs, but to ensure that we are making a positive impact on those around us, even during these trying times. Not being able to walk up and say “hello” and ask how our people are doing in-person has necessitated our need to communicate even more regularly than we would have.

With the transition to remote working, we got creative in maintaining intimate communication and connection. About one month ago, we instituted internal “Daily Connection” video calls to brief our staff on government executive order changes, employee benefit options, fieldwork safety protocols, and workflow updates. We’ve shifted to using Google Hangouts for most of our regular meetings. We use interactive tools, such as Mentimeter™, to engage 40-50 employees on our daily check-ins. And, each Friday, we’re hosting virtual, themed Happy Hours to unwind and share stories over cocktails. While these virtual events have become the temporary norm, we may opt to integrate these newfound ways of connecting upon return to our in-office lifestyle. Afterall, “returning to normal” is a misnomer, as this worldwide pandemic has forever changed the way we operate moving forward.

Nonetheless, there is a positive twist to all of this. Previously, I did not take the opportunity to see, chat, and check-in with the entire staff on a day-to-day basis. However, working remotely has provided me with the luxury of talking to all of our people, whether over email, text, direct message, phone, and/or video chat.

And, while I joke about not knowing what day it is and being stuck at home, I’ve been able to spend quality time with my wife Amy, our two boys, and our rambunctious hound Blue, making sure to take breaks to laugh with them about the conundrum we are in. I’ve also caught up with extended family and close friends, where in “normal times” we make the excuse of being simply too busy. This unexpected mandatory remote lifestyle has enabled us to develop a deeper connection with each other and spend more time with our families. This is clearly the silver lining to the state of our world at this time.

We do recognize that there are people struggling to make ends meet and those who are suffering from this terrible virus. Whether it be a neighbor, local business, or acquaintance, together, we must find the strength to support those who are in need. Whether it be helping a friend, ordering takeout from local restaurants, or donating funds to relief efforts, let’s come together (virtually) to give back to the community. And, let us be reminded to take the time to enjoy the little things we usually take for granted.

In closing, I encourage you to live your “why.” Use this time to make a positive difference, appreciate what you have, make the best of this situation, and, most importantly, help those who need it.

With gratitude to all,

Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E.
President
Princeton Hydro

Tips to Celebrate Earth Day 2020 While Social Distancing

Earth Day gatherings around the world have been cancelled due to COVID-19, but we can still do our part to honor this important occasion. We’ve put together a list of fun ideas and helpful tips to celebrate Earth Day 2020 safely and responsibly:


Get Outside, Safely

Illustration by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Getting outdoors is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, and it can boost your mental and physical health. While remaining mindful about maintaining safe social distancing practices, we can still get outside to take advantage of the spring weather and enjoy the outdoor adventures in our own backyards.

Earth Month Scavenger Hunt from Eco Promotional Products

For more tips on social distancing while visiting parks and natural areas, check out this helpful info from NJ Department of Environmental Protection.


Clean-up Your Neighborhood

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

Although large volunteer clean-up events are postponed due to social distancing guidelines, we can still do our part to pick-up trash and protect our local waterways. Here are a few ideas:

  • When you go outside for an afternoon walk, bring gloves and a garbage bag so you can pick up any trash you see along the way.

  • Check the storm drains in your neighborhood and remove and discard any debris that you find. Get started by reading these DIY tips!


Get Crafting & Birdwatching

Here are some simple DIY crafting ideas to help you pass the time and improve your backyard birdwatching.

  • Orange Feeder: Oranges are a tasty, energizing snack loved by several bird species, especially the Baltimore Oriole. Follow a few simple steps for building an orange feeder, and then sit back and enjoy your backyard bird watching experience!

  • Hummingbird Nectar: Bring more hummingbirds to your backyard this season in a few easy steps! By filling your feeder with this DIY delight, you can watch these beautiful little birds feed and flitter all day.

  • Heart-Shaped Feeder: Show your local songbirds some love with this DIY heart-shaped bird feeder. It makes a charming decoration for your backyard trees.

If you’re interested in taking your birdwatching adventures beyond your backyard, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers a variety of information and online resources to help you do so.


Get your Yard Spring-Ready

Residential homes and neighborhoods can benefit from the implementation of green infrastructure in more ways than many people realize. Planting native flower beds reduces runoff and attracts important pollinators.

  • Reduce Invasives, Plant Natives: Tulips will soon be emerging from the ground, buds blossoming on trees and, unfortunately, invasive plant species will too begin their annual growing cycle. Invasive species create major impacts on ecosystems near and far, but we can all do our part to reduce the spread. To learn more about aquatic invasive species and how to address them, check out our blog.

  • Prepare your Pond for Spring: If you have a pond on your property, check out these six steps for taking your pond out of hibernation mode, sprucing it up for Spring, and ensuring it remains healthy all year long.


Be Water-Wise

Now that we’re all spending more time at home, this is a great opportunity to incorporate better water-conservation practices into our daily lives.

  • Reduce water waste by checking for leaks that have been caused by winter freeze. Check garden hose spigots and sprinklers, and replace valves, washers and other components as necessary.

  • Install a rain barrel and use the captured rainfall to irrigate flower beds. This is another fun and inexpensive way to reduce runoff and save water. You can order a rain barrel online or search online for DIY rain barrel ideas. Remember to cover your barrels to keep mosquitoes at bay.

  • Go here for more water conservation tips.


Let’s Talk Toilets

According to the USEPA, toilets account for more water use than any other water-consuming product in your home. Toilets are estimated to be responsible for upwards of 30% of household water consumption. Additionally, flushing anything besides toilet paper has major negative impacts on the environment.

  • Eliminate toilet leaks: 79% of water lost in the home is through toilet leaks. Often silent, these leaks can waste up to 300 gallons of water per day. Check for leaks using food coloring. Replace the refill valve or flush valve when necessary.

  • Flush Responsibly: NY State Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued an email requesting more responsible flushing habits. As a reminder, disinfectant wipes, diapers, baby wipes, personal hygiene products, and any paper products other than toilet paper should never be flushed! These materials create significant damage to sewer systems, water treatment plants, and septic systems. Learn more.


Go Digital

Earth Day 2020, which also happens to be the 50th anniversary, will now be the first-ever Digital Earth Day. Here are a few ways to celebrate from the safety of your home:

  • Participate in a global Citizen Science effort! Download the Earth Challenge 2020 smart phone app to submit observations of the environment around your home. The data you submit will be validated, and the resulting database—of over one billion data points—will be displayed on a public map for researchers to use.

  • Participate in the Rutger’s Cooperative Extension “Earth Day at Home” free webinar series! Every Monday at 6:30pm EST, starting April 20 through June 29, the live and interactive 1-hour sessions will focus on steps everyone can take to protect the environment. Topics include environmentally friendly lawn care, backyard composting, reducing plastic and food waste, and so much more.

  • Sign-up to be a part of the largest environment mobilization in history: EarthDay.org’s EARTHRISE initiative, which includes social media campaigns, online teach-ins, performances, and more. Find a digital Earth Day Event!

Inspire others to celebrate Earth Day 2020 responsibly by documenting your activities and sharing on social media with hashtags: #EarthDay, #EarthDay2020, #EARTHRISE, and #RecreateLocal. To read about Princeton Hydro’s past Earth Day celebrations, go here.

Bloomfield: Restoration Efforts Transforming Industrial Site Into Thriving Public Park

A densely developed, flood-prone, former industrial site in Bloomfield, New Jersey is being transformed into a thriving public park and 4.2 acres of wetlands. This is thanks to the Third River Floodplain Wetland Enhancement Project, which broke ground in March of 2019. The project will restore valuable ecological functions and natural floodplain connection, enhance aquatic and wildlife habitat, and increase flood storage capacity for urban stormwater runoff.

The project team has already made tremendous progress at the site, which is located along the Third River and Spring Brook, two freshwater tributaries of the Passaic River. Princeton Hydro is serving as the ecological engineer to Bloomfield Township; our scientists and engineers have assisted in obtaining grants, collected background ecological data through field sampling and surveying, created a water budget, completed all necessary permitting, designed both the conceptual and final restoration plans, and continues to conduct construction oversight during the implementation of this important urban wetland creation project.

The project team recently utilized a drone to document the significant progress being made:

 

View of the construction progress with the proposed wetland to the upper half of the photo. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

View of the construction progress with the proposed wetland to the upper half of the photo. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

Close-up view of the wetland construction progress. Note the hummocks and hollows created with the wetland soil as well as the habitat features constructed of trees and natural rock uncovered during the excavation process. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

Close-up view of the wetland construction progress. Note: the hummocks and hollows created with the wetland soil as well as the habitat features constructed of trees and natural rock uncovered during the excavation process. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

Nearly complete grading of the proposed wetland. Note the hummocks and hollows created with the wetland soil. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

Nearly complete grading of the proposed wetland. Note: the hummocks and hollows created with the wetland soil. Photo provided by Creamer Environmental.

Over 500 trees and shrubs have been planted in the new wetland with additional trees and shrubs planted along Lion Gate Drive and in existing woodlands. The selected native plant species all provide important wildlife value, including providing food and shelter for migratory birds. Enviroscapes was contracted to install all of the trees and wetland plants at this site and has nearly finished planting efforts:

Removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants, shrubs and trees sets the stage for a flourishing native plant community year after year.

Removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants, shrubs and trees, sets the stage for a flourishing wetland habitat.

The project is progressing quickly as the weather warms. Nearly all of the plantings have been installed and seeding is happening in the next two weeks.

This green infrastructure project will re-establish the natural floodplain wetland and riparian plant communities.

This green infrastructure project will re-establish the natural floodplain wetland and riparian plant communities.

We’re excited to see what the restoration will look like when it’s all finished. Check out additional photos below and stay tuned for project updates!

To learn more, check out the full story below:

Urban Wetland Restoration to Yield Flood Protection for Bloomfield Residents