Monday, June 25, 2012

What Lives in the Bay?

Seining the bayTaking a look at our finds!Northern Puffers, Lined Seahorses, juvenile Bluefish, or Bay Anchovies. Which of these fish do you think may be found in the water at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth? The answer is all of them!

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from June 25 through August 24, 11am–12:00noon, Park System Naturalists provide visitors with a free seining program at Bayshore Waterfront Park. Visitors have the opportunity to discover a variety of fish, crabs, and other remarkable creatures of the bay that live in shallow waters. This is one of the best ways to learn about the diversity of aquatic life in Sandy Hook Bay. Park System Naturalists pull a long net through the water to try to catch fish, crabs, and anything else that lives along the shallow edge of the bay.
Northern Puffer Fish
Visitors who partake in our free seining not only have fun seeing what interesting life lives in the bay, but many have a good time holding different species of fish, such as snapper blues, croakers, flounders, Hermit Crabs, Pipefish, and more, before releasing them back into the water. Each haul of the seine net brings in something new to discover.   

This fun and exciting program takes place on the beach near the fishing pier. Closed-toe shoes are required. The program will not run during inclement weather. Open to ages 5 and up, families, with adult, the program is designed for individuals and families, not groups. (Groups can reserve a date by calling (732) 872-7369.)

It will be a fun time for everyone as we discover what lives in the bay this summer!

Monday, June 18, 2012

National Pollinator Week

A native bee (genus: Agapostemon) on New England Aster flower. Photo by Jolie Goldenetz Dollar
One in three mouthfuls of food and drink we consume can be linked to insect pollination. Pollinators (primarily bees but also moths, butterflies, beetles, flies, and small mammals) assist in the production of more than 150 U.S. crops that include apples, alfalfa, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, kiwis, melons, pears, plums, and squash. Native pollinators not only contribute to the productivity of our crops, but also to the survival and reproduction of many of our native plants.

What is pollination? Pollination is when pollen is moved within a flower or from one flower to another of the same species, which leads to fertilization. With no pollination at all, many of the foods we enjoy would no longer be available. The plants that other creatures rely on for food and shelter would disappear as well. More than 80% of flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their pollen grains from plant to plant.

Five years ago the U.S. Senate designated the final full week of June as "National Pollinator Week" to raise awareness on the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinating animals are a vital part of our ecosystem, support terrestrial wildlife, provide healthy watershed, and more.

According the the Pollinator Partnership, here are some things we can do to help our pollinators:
  • Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!
  • Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitats with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes. For information on what to plant in your area, download a free ecoregional guide online. 
  • Tell a friend. Educate your neighbors, schools, and community groups about the importance of pollinators.
  • For more tips on what you can do to help our native pollinators, visit the Pollinator Partnership website.
Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown will be hosting the following events to inform you and your family about native pollinators:
  • Friday, June 22 from 7-8:45pm: Free viewing of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees which examines the decline of the honeybee, possible causes, and the greater meaning it holds. A brief discussion will follow, including tips on what you can do to support pollinators in your own backyard. Appropriate for ages 8 through adults. Popcorn will be provided!
  • Saturday, June 23 from 1:30-3pm: Free drop-in for children ages 4-10 titled Celebrate Pollinators! Children will enjoy a special story as well as a fun craft!
Facts and figures for this post were found on the Pollinator Partnership website.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Drop Your Line this Weekend!

Fishing in the Parks
Did you know this upcoming weekend, June 16 & 17, is New Jersey's annual free fishing weekend? Any angler will tell you that there's nothing better than feeling the first nibble on your line and then reeling in the big one! Well, this weekend you'll have your chance.

During the annual free fishing weekend, those looking to give freshwater fishing a try get the chance to do so without purchasing a New Jersey fishing license or trout stamp; normally anglers 16 and up must have a license. It's the perfect time to get out on the water and see if this relaxing, and sometimes exciting, sport is for you!

According to the NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife, "freshwater fishing in New Jersey has never been better"! There are a multitude of locations throughout the state for anglers to try their luck, and the Monmouth County Park System is home to many of them. Check out these freshwater fishing locations this weekend to drop a line and take advantage of this no-license-required free fishing weekend:

Fishing in the ParksCrosswicks Creek Greenway, Upper Freehold
Cast from the shore for catfish and shad.

Holmdel Park, Holmdel
Cast from the shore for trout, large mouth bass, catfish and panfish.

Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold
Cast from the shore for carp, catfish, pickerel, large mouth bass, sunnies, and freshwater eels.

Manasquan Reservoir, Howell
Cast from the shore or boat (electric motor boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks are permitted) for large and small mouth bass, hybrid striped bass, tiger muskie, bullhead catfish, and panfish. Bait can be purchased from the shop located at the Visitor Center on Windeler Road.

Manasquan River Greenway, Howell
Cast from the shore for trout.

Perrineville Lake Park, Millstone
Cast from the shore or boat (electric motor boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks are permitted) for bass, catfish, panfish and pickerel.

Shark River Park, Neptune
Cast from the shore of the pond to find bluegills and trout; cast from the shore of the river for trout.

Thompson Park, Lincroft
Cast from the shore or boat (electric motor boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks are permitted) for bass, bluegills and perch.

Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold
Cast from the shore or boat (electric motor boats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks are permitted) for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegills. Bait can be purchased at the Campground Office.

Don't have anyone to borrow a pole from? Head to Turkey Swamp Park on Saturday and Sunday from 7am-3pm to rent poles and tackle for $5 for 2 hours. Equipment will be available outside the boat house.

For more information on fishing at the Monmouth County Park System parks, click here. For more information on the NJDEP's Free Fishing Weekend, visit their website.

Monday, June 4, 2012

National Get Outdoors Day!

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan
Manasquan Reservoir, Howell

Did you know that the average American child can recognize approximately 1,000 brand logos but cannot recognize 10 plants or animals native to their area? Or that children in the US average about 30 minutes a week of outdoor activity but average almost 45 hours a week of electronic media exposure? There is no better time to make a step toward change by heading out to the parks this Saturday, June 9 during National Get Outdoors Day.

There's always something to do in the Monmouth County Park System parks, whether it's a structured program, special event, drop-in program, or just a visit. Here's a list of some things to get you outdoors on June 9th for National Get Outdoors Day (and hopefully will bring you back for more too!):

  • Thompson Park Canoe Rentals - Canoes will be available for a relaxing weekend paddle at Thompson Park Marlu Lake, Lincroft. All equipment provided; limited number of canoes available. Fee: $15.00 per canoe for 1-3 people for 2 hours (cash or check only).
  • Explore Tatum Park, Middletown, with a Park System Naturalist as your guide during our Roving Naturalist drop-in program. Free!
  • Bring your children to one of our many playgrounds! Playgrounds are located at the following parks: Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck; Holmdel Park, Holmdel; Manasquan Reservoir, Howell; Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook, Atlantic Highlands; Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch; Shark River Park, Neptune; Tatum Park, Middletown; Thompson Park, Lincroft; Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. Free!
  • Cool off at the Dorbrook Recreation Area Sprayground in Colts Neck. Free!
  • Walk, run or bike some of over 124 miles of trails. Free!
  • Get in a round of golf at one of our scenic golf courses. (See website for golf fees and charges.)
  • Hit the beach at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch for some fun in the sun. (See website for cost of daily passes and badges.)
  • Take a step back in time at one of our wonderful historic locations: Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel or Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold. Free!
  • View over 200 species of animals by taking a trip with us to the Cape May Zoo! (Pre-registration and fee required.)
  • Play with your pup off the leash at one of our off-leash dog areas at Thompson Park, Lincroft or Wolf Hill Recreation Area, Oceanport. Free!
  • Drop a line and see what you get! Fishing is available at 13 park locations. Just remember, a NJ Fishing License is required for those ages 16-69 when doing any freshwater fishing. Free!
  • Learn about the wildlife of the Manasquan Reservoir with a boat tour. Weekend boat tours of the reservoir are available on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm and 4:00pm from May 5 through October 8. (Adults: $5.75; Children 12 and under: $3.75)
  • Camp out under the stars! Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold has 64 family campsites available from April 1 through November 15 and have all the amenities your family will need to have an enjoyable retreat. (Call 732-462-7286 for reservation and pricing information.)
  • Stop and smell the roses. A visit to Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown is sure to please the entire family with 54 beautiful acres of gardens and greenhouses to explore. Free!
  • Explore various parks while completing our annual Rockin' the Trails challenge. Free!

Exploring the outdoors is not only a wonderful way to get some exercise, it also promotes relaxation and a greater sense of the world around us. Come, visit and enjoy your Monmouth County Park System parks. We're waiting for you!

If you're looking for additional activities that may not be listed here, check out our website or call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, Monday-Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm, and Saturday-Sunday from 10:00am-4:00pm.