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.

Enjoy Your Labor Day Nature Adventures Responsibly

Seven Tips for Environmentally-Friendly Outdoor Fun

Labor Day is right around the corner! Many people will soon be packing up the car with fishing gear and heading to their favorite lake for a fun-filled weekend.

As biologists, ecologists, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts, all of us at Princeton Hydro fully enjoy getting outside and having fun in nature. We also take our responsibility to care for and respect our natural surroundings very seriously. We play hard and work hard to protect our natural resources for generations to come.

These seven tips will help you enjoy your Labor Day fishing, boating, and outdoor adventures with minimal environmental impact:

  • Before you go, know your local fishing regulations. These laws protect fish and other aquatic species to ensure that the joys of fishing can be shared by everyone well into the future.

  • Reduce the spread of invasive species by thoroughly washing your gear and watercraft before and after your trip. Invasives come in many forms – plants, fungi, and animals – and even those of microscopic size can cause major damage.

  • Stay on designated paths to avoid disrupting sensitive and protected areas, like wetlands, shorelines, stream banks, and meadows. Disturbing and damaging these sensitive areas can jeopardize the health of the many important species living there.

  • Exercise catch and release best practices. Always keep the health of the fish at the forefront of your activities by using the right gear and employing proper techniques. Get that info by clicking here.

  • Use artificial lures or bait that is native to the area you’re fishing in. Live bait that is non-native can introduce invasive species to water sources and cause serious damage to the surrounding environment.

  • Plan ahead and map your trip. Contact the office of land management to learn about permit requirements, area closures and other restrictions. Use this interactive map to find great fishing spots in your area, the fish species you can expect to find at each spot, nearby gear shops, and more!

Armed with these seven tips, you can now enjoy your weekend while feeling rest assured that you’re doing your part to protect the outdoor spaces and wild places we all love to recreate in! Go here to learn about some of the work Princeton Hydro does to restore and protect our natural resources.

120903 Dock
“Respect nature and it will provide you with abundance.”

–compassionkindness.com

Our 2019 Earth Day Photo Contest Winner!

In honor of Earth Day, Princeton Hydro held its annual Photo Contest with the theme “Earth as Art” for its employees. We’d like to thank everyone who submitted photos this year. Overall, we received 28 gorgeous photos from our staff.

All photos were rated on the following criteria by three judges: Danielle Odom, Lucy Aquilino, and Amanda Brooks (see bios below).

  • Technical Quality (30%)
  • Originality (30%)
  • Artistic Merit (40%)
THE WINNER OF THE PRINCETON HYDRO 2019 EARTH DAY PHOTO CONTEST IS…

“The Sands of Time. Microtopography created on a windswept beach.” Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. By Jack Szczepanski

Scroll to the bottom to see a gallery of runner-up photos.

ABOUT THE JUDGES:
DANIELLE ODOM

Danielle is a Lab Technician in the Watershed & Systems Ecology Department at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. She studies macroinvertebrates as biological indicators and she’s currently studying to become a certified midge ID expert. A former teacher, she taught nature photography to middle school students.

Lucy Aquilino

Lucy is a retired Parole officer and amateur photographer. A mom of 2, she loves taking nature photos and going on adventures with her kids.

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is a nature enthusiast who loves taking long walks in the woods with her camera and notepad. With her degree in Environmental Studies and English and her background in the arts, she is always looking for creative ways to capture the beauty of nature to inspire its protection. She currently resides in Burlington, Vermont and works as a tree-monger at Gardener’s Supply Company. You can check out more of her work on her Facebook page. 

Check out the photos from last year’s Earth Day photo contest here:

Our Earth Day Photo Contest Winner

Volunteers Pitch In at New Jersey’s Thompson Park

A volunteer effort, lead by the Middlesex County, New Jersey Parks and Recreation Department and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, recently took place at Thompson Park.

Despite the rainy weather, 78 volunteers and members of the Youth Conservation Corps removed litter from the shoreline of Manalapan Lake, repaired fencing, made improvements to the park’s walking trails, weeded and mulched the park’s rain garden and native plant garden, and installed new plants in the rain garden.

The park’s rain garden was originally designed by Princeton Hydro Senior Water Resource Engineer Dr. Clay Emerson, PE, CFM. Rain gardens are cost effective, attractive and sustainable means to minimize stormwater runoff. They also help to reduce erosion, promote groundwater recharge, minimize flooding and remove pollutants from runoff.

By definition, a rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses, and positioned near a runoff source to capture rainwater. Planting native plants also helps to attract pollinators and birds and naturally reduces mosquitos by removing standing water thus reducing mosquito breeding areas.

Rain gardens temporarily store rainwater and runoff, and filter the water of hydrocarbons, oil, heavy metals, phosphorous, fertilizers and other pollutants that would normally find their way to the sewer and even our rivers and waterways.

On the day of the volunteer event, Central New Jersey received 0.44 inches of rain.  “We got to see the rain garden in action, which was really exciting,” said Princeton Hydro Senior Project Manager Kelly Klein, who volunteered at the event.

Volunteers from the following organizations participated:

  • Edison Metro Lions Club
  • Hioki USA Corporation
  • Girl Scout Troop 70306
  • East Brunswick Youth Council
  • Monroe Middle School
  • South Plainfield High School
  • Rutgers University
  • Master Gardeners of Middlesex County
  • Foresters Financial
  • Princeton Hydro

The Middlesex County Parks and Recreation Department’s next public volunteer event is tomorrow (June 2) in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park.

The Princeton Hydro team has designed and constructed countless stormwater management systems, including rain gardens in locations throughout the Eastern U.S. Click here for more information about our stormwater management services.

Our Earth Day Photo Contest Winner

In honor of Earth Day, Princeton Hydro held an internal Water-Themed Photo Contest for its employees. We’d like to thank everyone who submitted photos this year. Overall, we received 40 gorgeous water-themed photos from our staff. We have so many talented photographers!

All photos were rated on the following criteria by three judges: Danielle Odom, Darren Rist, and Dana Patterson (see bios below).

  • Technical Quality (30%)
  • Originality (30%)
  • Artistic Merit (40%)

The winner of the Princeton Hydro 2018 Earth Day Photo Contest is…..

“Black necked stilt in Ollie’s Pond in Charlotte, Florida” by Mark Gallagher

Scroll to the bottom to see a gallery of runner-up photos.

ABOUT THE JUDGES:

Danielle Odom

Danielle has been an avid outdoorswoman and self-taught naturalist since she was a small child. In 2016, she spent four consecutive months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, traversing over 2,000 continuous miles through the Mojave Desert, the High Sierras, volcanic terrains, old growth forests, and the Cascades. She earned her B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Environmental Studies, and taught environmental education for five years. One of her favorite lessons to teach was Conservation Photography: How Photography Helped Shape the Conservation Movement. Since the age of four she has entered and placed in local photography contests; she’s the third generation in a family of semi-professional photographers.

Darren Rist 

Some of Darren’s fondest childhood memories are of fishing with his father and brothers. He’s always loved trout fishing, but it wasn’t until his first year in college that he caught the fly fishing bug…BAD. Darren spent many painstaking hours deciding whether to go to his morning engineering classes at NJIT or the ‘entomology classes’ on one of the many trout rivers in Northern NJ. (The latter usually won out). In 2003 he found himself wanting more than just a career in automation engineering. That was when he decided to buy his first drift boat and began guiding part-time on the fabled rivers of the Catskills and Upper Delaware. Becoming a fly fishing guide has enabled Darren to blend his love of the outdoors, travel, photography, birding, teaching and of course, fly fishing. In addition to guiding, Darren provides fly casting and tying instruction, and is a past president of the North Jersey Chapter of Trout Unlimited. His photography has been published in fly fishing books and periodicals. To learn more about guided fly-fishing trips with Darren, you can reach him at dprist@earthlink.net.

Dana Patterson

As the Communications Strategist for Princeton Hydro, Dana is a passionate environmental communicator who brings a strong mix of diverse stakeholder engagement experience, coupled with values-based communication strategy. She believes photography plays a strong role in storytelling and enjoys snapping shots of birds and landscapes. She recently completed a Photography course at Camden County College, where she learned both technical and creative ways to make unique photographs. While she considers herself an amateur photographer, she placed in the Yale Chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters 2016 Photo Contest and is published in Wild New Jersey: Adventures in the Garden State book.

Check out the photos from last year’s photo contest here.

Celebrating Arbor Day with Friends of Exton Park

The Princeton Hydro Arbor Day planting team. Photo by George Tallman

Arbor Day dates back to the 1870’s in Nebraska, when journalist Julius Sterling Morton realized the ecological importance of trees, and proposed that all Nebraskans celebrate by having a day of planting. On April 10, 1872, the first Arbor Day was born. This tradition continued to spread from state-to-state, and after several decades, became a nationwide trend. Almost a century later, President Richard Nixon moved to officially recognize the holiday in 1970. Today, the tradition has spread worldwide, and has played a key role in environmental awareness.

To celebrate Arbor Day 2018, we teamed up with Friends of Exton Park. First, we joined their weekly morning bird walk at Exton Park to look out for spring migrants.  The group of about 25 people spotted some great birds including a Green-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Virginia Rail,  Horned Lark, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Carolina Chickadee.  The highlight of the trip was the American Bittern, who was perfectly camouflaged along the pond’s edge.

“American Bittern” by Dana Patterson

After the two-hour bird walk, we got into the Arbor Day spirit and planted 18 native trees and shrubs in Exton Park. Lead by our Landscape Architect Cory Speroff and Senior Limnologist Mike Hartshorne, the team identified the the perfect location for each plant, mostly along the main boardwalk trail leading into the heart of the park.

Overall, everyone had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrating Arbor Day.  At Princeton Hydro, we always work with our partners and clients to design sustainable landscapes with native plants that will thrive in local ecosystems.  At project sites, our goal is to create thriving habitat for wildlife and restore our natural landscape.  We were proud to sponsor these plantings for the Friends of Exton Park and thank their volunteers for organizing this event.

Enjoy the more photos from our event below. Special shout out to George Tallman of Friends of Exton Park for sharing some of his photos with us too.

 

 

 

 

 

Musconetcong River Volunteer Cleanup

The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) held its 26th Annual Musconetcong River Cleanup on April 14. Volunteers conducted cleanup efforts at various locations all along the Musconetcong River from its start at Lake Hopatcong down to where it meets the Delaware River. Princeton Hydro, a proud sponsor of the event, has investigated, designed and permitted five dam removals along the Musconetcong River.

Princeton Hydro led a volunteer team near the Warren Glen Dam site and former Hughesville Dam site. The team picked-up garbage along the road and riverbank, and pulled trash from the riverbed. In 2016, we designed and oversaw the Hughesville Dam removal and streambank restoration project, which enabled the return of American shad to the river for the first time in decades.

“We enjoyed the beautiful, warm, and sunny Saturday morning bonding with our Princeton Hydro colleagues and friends, while giving back to the Musconetcong Watershed Association,” said Geoffery Goll, President of Princeton Hydro. “Our successful partnership with MWA on multiple dam removals in critical locations has expedited the restoration and protection of the Musconetcong River.”

MWA hosts cleanups throughout the year. If you have an idea for a volunteer cleanup day, please email info@musconetcong.org.