Page 8 - May 19, 2021
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{ 8 }  SNJ Today  |  MAY 19, 2021                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 MAY 19, 2021  |   { 9 }
             CIRCLE OASIS                                 Continued from cover

     Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Delaware   minded solutions that would work in tan-
     River Watershed Conservation Grant Pro-  dem with their improvements. Being long-
     gram sponsored this project, called “Imple-  time partners with Rutgers Water Resource
     menting Green Infrastructure to Protect   Program, CU suggested incorporating rain
     the Wild and Scenic Maurice River.” The   gardens into the land management practices
     revitalization of the WheatonArts Entrance   used within the entrance circle. At that
     Circle was the biggest of the four installa-  time, the area was being managed as 36,000
     tions associated with the overall project.   square feet of sterile lawn. By installing rain
     The project aims to protect clean and plenti-  gardens instead, the remainder of the storm-
     ful water supplies for human use, and to   water could be redirected away from the
     conserve wildlife habitat integrity. It was fu-  entrance and back down to the aquifer.
     eled by the dedication of volunteer stewards   Outmoded land management practices
     who are making a difference for a healthier   are exacerbating the effects that overcon-
     tomorrow, by acting collectively today.   sumption of freshwater is having on the
       WheatonArts is an anchor cultural   health of the Maurice River watershed.
     destination located in Millville. It is open to   Installing an extensive raingarden system
     the public and attracts over 60,000 visitors   addresses the flooding issue, protects sur-
     per year. There are many offerings to take   face water resources from contamination,
     advantage of, including museum and gallery   and promotes the recharge of southern
     exhibits, hands-on educational opportuni-  New Jersey’s drinking water supply—the
     ties for children and adults, interpretive   Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer. At the end of
     artist demonstrations, and special events   2018, National Fish and Wildlife Founda-
     for the community. The facility is home   tion recognized the environmental conser-
     to the Museum of American Glass, Down   vation potential of the overall project and
     Jersey Folklife Center, and a dynamic artist   awarded CU Maurice River with funding to
     community. This non-profit organization’s   complete it.
     mission is to engage artists and audiences in   By the end of 2020, the three partnering
     an evolving exploration of creativity.   organizations were collaborating on the
       Aspiring to participate as environmen-  development of a garden layout that would
     tal stewards of the community, state, and   not only help resolve water management is-
     globe, the “WheatonGreen” initiative was   sues but also complement the facility’s aes-
     established to demonstrate the organiza-  thetics. In January 2021, the WheatonArts
     tion’s commitment to sustainability. After   Facilities Committee approved Rutgers’
     WheatonArts experienced flooding at their   concept design. It featured four intercon-
     entrance gate, they made improvements to   nected rain gardens and three large upland   water per year into the aquifer. The system   Before, during, and after photos of project.
     the facility’s drainage system. Then they   pollinator areas. Once installed, it would   would also remove a combined 120 pounds   BOTTOM PHOTO: MICHAEL BIDDINGER
     came to CU Maurice River seeking green-  facilitate the recharge of 891,000 gallons of   of contaminants from waterways, while
                                                                               the native plants support the biodiversity   Over the next two months, these eco-
                                                                               of Down Jersey. Upon approval, Rutgers   stewards shared their experiences on a
                                                                               then assembled their team of engineers and   Facebook page, called Circle Pollinator
                                                                               landscape designers to draw up the final   Project. There they shared the excitement
                                                                               plans for installation.             of spotting the first sprouts poking through
                                                                                Meanwhile, CU Maurice River began   the soil (well, except for those who were still
                                                                               engaging the community with the project’s   waiting in nervous expectancy). They also
                                                                               goals and involving them in this hands-on   shared growing pains and “coming of age
                                                                               learning experience. A kick-off event was   moments,” like when crowded trays needed
                                                                               held in February. By this time, the CU Mau-  to be thinned out. One participant shared
                                                                               rice River and WheatonArts’ communities   her curious cat checking out, or even eating,
                                                                               had been hearing about the project for quite   the seeds. Another sent an S.O.S. message
                                                                               some time. They were ready and raring   when ants raided the cells of her trays. The
                                                                               to get started. Nearly 50 people attended   group page was consistently active with
                                                                               a germination session and volunteered to   updates, inquiries, stories, doubts, and sug-
                                                                               foster plants from seed for the gardens. The   gestions. In the midst of the deep dark win-
                                                                               workshop introduced the participants to   ter, those little-sprouts-that-could opened
                                                                               “blue-minded” water management prac-  their first set of leaves and inspired hope in
           Nearly 50 people attended a germination session and                 tices, ecological benefits of native plants   anticipation for the coming of spring—and
         volunteered to foster plants from seed for the gardens....            in landscaping, unique qualities of the   warmer days. Together this group of eco-
                                                                                                                   stewards raised over 2,100 plants.
                                                                               featured flower species, and suggestions for
      Together this group of eco-stewards raised over 2,100 plants.            plant care.                            Installation finally started on Monday,
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