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RED BANK: DEP SAYS RIVERS SAFE FOR HUMANS

A cluster of dead bunker in the Red Bank borough marina at Marine Park earlier this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njA massive die-off of bunker fish in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers this spring poses no health threat to recreational users of those waters, environmental scientists said Thursday night.

Meantime, experts are still trying to determine what environmental “stressors” might have turned a bacteria that’s common to the species into a mass killer that has littered shores with tons of dead, putrid carcasses.

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RED BANK: FORUM ON FISH KILL SLATED

A cluster of dead bunker in the borough marina at Marine Park earlier this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Clean Ocean Action and local officials, including Red Bank’s, will get the virtual town hall with New Jersey environmental officials they’ve been seeking to address the recent “severe” fish kill in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, the organization announced Friday.

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RED BANK: FISH KILL ‘MOST SEVERE’ OF LATE

Dead menhaden cluster at a Navesink River dock in Fair Haven last week. (Photo by Bernie McSherry. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njA massive fish kill in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers in recent weeks is “the most severe mortality event in recent memory,” but New Jersey environmental officials still don’t know why it’s targeting only one species, Clean Ocean Action reported Thursday.

The environmental advocacy group also pressed the state to remove at least some of the dead fish from Red Bank-area waters.

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RED BANK: MENHADEN DIE-OFF IN SPOTLIGHT

Dead fish littered the Fair Haven boat launch on Battin Avenue last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Clean Ocean Action has called on New Jersey environmental and health officials to hold a virtual town hall to provide updates and guidance for towns along the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, where massive menhaden die-offs have occurred recently.

“The cause, extent, and magnitude of the die-off is deeply concerning and raising alarm throughout the region,” COA executive director Cindy Zipf and staff scientist Swarna Muthukrishnan wrote Friday. “Feeding the concern is the lack of answers, conflicting answers, and lack of proactive response to the ever-increasing dead fish.”

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RUMSON: NAVESINK QUALITY IMPROVES

A view of the Navesink from Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank last month. Below, Bill Heddendorf of the New Jersey DEP discusses the need for additional testing along the Spring Street storm sewer line in Red Bank. (Photo above by Trish Russoniello, below by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

An effort to reverse biological contamination in the Navesink River is “working,” and could result in the reopening of closed shellfish beds a year earlier than previously expected, a New Jersey environmental scientist told a gathering in Rumson last week.

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RED BANK: RIVER BACTERIA SOURCES LOCATED

Busted sanitary sewer lines in two locations along Marion Street in Red Bank were significant sources of bacteria winding up in the Navesink off Fair Haven, investigators said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Environmentalists and government officials have found two culprits, just yards apart in Red Bank, believed to be contributing to a spike in human waste bacteria in the Navesink River, they said Thursday night.

And the mystery could not have been solved without a trio of specially trained sniffing dogs, an ecstatic Clean Ocean Action leader Cindy Zipf told redbankgreen.

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RUMSON: RALLY ‘ROUND THE NAVESINK

Clean Ocean Action founder Cindy Zipf speaks at Bingham Hall during a June 2016 public meeting on degradation of the Navesink River. The nonprofit COA returns to the Rumson community center on April 27, for a followup forum on water quality monitoring and boat pumping stations.  (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

In 2016, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection condemned over 565 acres of shellfishing habitat due to bacterial pollution. In response, the nonprofit Clean Ocean Action established Rally for the Navesink — the name for an alliance of 32 locally based organizations, as well as for the series of events that the COA has conducted over the course of the past year.

On the evening of Thursday, April 27, Rally for the Navesink returns to historic Bingham Hall in Rumson — scene of a well-attended public forum in June of last year — for a “Find It, Fix It” presentation that seeks to provide information on pumping station facilities for boat owners, in addition to putting out a call to concerned citizens who wish to assist in the community-wide monitoring of water quality in the river.

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NAVESINK: BACTERIAL HOTSPOTS IDENTIFIED

rally-navesink-113016Zach Lees of Clean Ocean Action talks about tracking bacteria along storm sewers upland from Red Bank’s Marine Park Wednesday night.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Aided by a trio of specially trained sniffing dogs, environmental detectives have zoomed in on particular locations in three towns that may be at least partly responsible for a recent spike in bacteria levels in the Navesink River, they reported Wednesday night.

At the final Rally for the Navesink event of 2016 organized after a ban on shellfish harvesting from 566 acres of the river last February, a coalition of groups identified specific sites where leaking sanitary sewer lines or septic systems in Red Bank, Fair Haven and Middletown may be contributing bacteria from human waste.

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CLEAN WATER EVENTS IN FAIR HAVEN, RUMSON

CINDY ZIPF 062816Cindy Zipf is pictured addressing a crowd at Rumson’s Bingham Hall on recent pollution issues in the Navesink River. The Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action returns to the borough on October 18, for a free public lecture event sponsored by the Rumson Garden Club.

From press materials furnished by Rumson Garden Club; Monmouth Conservation Foundation

The middle of October will see two free public-welcome discussions — one in Rumson, one in Fair Haven — that aim to furnish the public with updated information on the effort to address the pollution problem in the Navesink River, as well as provide tips on ways that individual residents and business owners can pitch in to help improve the quality of our area’s waterways.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 18, the Rumson Country Club is the setting for a special lecture entitled “Watershed Mindfulness: We Are All Connected to the Sea;” presented by Rumson Garden Club and featuring as guest speaker Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of the Sandy Hook-based nonprofit Clean Ocean Action (COA).

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RUMSON: DOGS ENLISTED IN RIVER CLEANUP

navesink rally 081116 1Clean Ocean Action founder Cindy Zipf addresses a ‘Rally for the Navesink’ audience at the First Presbyterian Church in Rumson Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Their species has been implicated as a likely suspect, but dogs may also be helpful in solving the mystery behind recent alarming spikes in bacterial pollution levels of the Navesink River, environmentalists say.

Canines trained to detect the presence of fecal coliform bacteria have been used to sniff water samples taken from the river, Clean Ocean Action attorney Zach Lees told attendees at a “Rally for the Navesink” held in Rumson Thursday night. And next month, they’re expected to be deployed in Red Bank and Fair Haven, to try to track down land-based sources of the bacteria, which occur in the intestines of warmblooded animals: humans, their pets and wildlife. More →

SHREWSBURY: NAVESINK EFFORT UPDATED

sickels schuster 080416Red Bank Administrator Stanley Sickels, left, discussed sewer lines with the DEP’s Bob Schuster after the meeting at Shrewsbury’s borough hall Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Hoping to curb high levels of bacteria associated with human and animal waste in the Navesink River, a New Jersey environmental official offered local mayors and environmental activists evidence of minor success Thursday night.

It involved horse manure.

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RUMSON: RIVER HEALTH ISSUES DRAW CROWD

CINDY ZIPF 062816Clean Ocean Action founder Cindy Zipf addresses a packed Bingham Hall in Rumson, where the topic was degradation of the Navesink River. Below, a map showing areas where shellfish harvesting is prohibited. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Navesink suspension acreage 011016An alarming rise in bacterial pollution levels of the Navesink River drew more than 100 people to the historic Bingham Hall in Rumson on a humid summer night Tuesday.

Among many questions to be addressed were what’s causing a rise in fecal coliform levels, and how can it be stopped?

“We all know what the smoking gun is: stormwater runoff,” Christopher Obropta, a specialist in water resources with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  More →

RUMSON: NAVESINK POLLUTION ON AGENDA

rb navesink 071915A view of the Navesink River from the Red Bank Public Library. Below, a map of showing where shellfish harvesting is banned or suspended. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Navesink suspension acreage 011016Eighteen months after the the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection suspended shellfish harvesting in 566 acres of the Navesink River because of unacceptably high levels of fecal coliform, Clean Ocean Action plans to host a public meeting on the issue.

The Rumson event will offer an overview of the DEP’s rationale for the January, 2015 downgrade, attributed in park to stormwater runoff, and mark the release of a Clean Ocean Action report on bacterial pollution in the river, according to a press release by the Sandy Hook-based nonprofit. More →

RUMSON: SHORED UP, BATTENED DOWN

The collision between coastal development and severe weather in New Jersey and elsewhere is the subject of the documentary “Shored Up,” screening for free this Saturday at Holy Cross School.

As filmmaker Ben Kalina tells it, “I made Shored Up to explore what it means to live beside the beauty of the ocean — where, as we saw with Hurricane Sandy, we are always just one storm away from catastrophe.”

Filmed in late 2012 and 2013 on locations along the Jersey Shore and the North Carolina coast, the documentary feature hits close to home — and with a Category 5 wallop — for local residents who experienced firsthand the unprecedented and still-lingering effects of the superstorm that marks its second anniversary next month.

This Saturday evening, September 20, Holy Cross School in Rumson hosts a free screening of the film, a public-welcome event that includes a discussion with the director and panel of local coastal and environmental scientists.

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SHORING UP SUPPORT FOR COAST’S FUTURE

Shored UpThe documentary film SHORED UP, which examines the collision between coastal development and severe weather in New Jersey and North Carolina, will be shown September 20 at a special screening in Rumson.

Press release from New Jersey Future

On the evening of Saturday, September 20, New Jersey Future — a nonprofit organization which is working with Sea Bright and Highlands on long-term recovery planning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — will sponsor a free public screening of the documentary feature Shored Up in Rumson.

Doors open at 6:30 pm for the screening, scheduled for 7 pm at Holy Cross School, 40 Rumson Road. At the conclusion of the film there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session, featuring the film’s director Ben Kalina, as well as several local coastal and environmental scientists.

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TEDx NAVESINK: A NEW WAVE BREAKS AT BCC

kaki-king_detail_feature1-530x281Next-gen guitar god Kaki King is the special musical guest at the first-ever TEDx Navesink: The Next Wave conference coming to Brookdale on Friday.

By TOM CHESEK

The way that Brian Smiga sees things, it’s an idea whose time had come — even before the arrival of a thing called Sandy.

“All of us here on the Shore recently experienced a big event that disrupted our lives,” says the native Rumsonite, software entrepeneur, actor and venture capitalist. “There’s really no time like that, no moment like this one, to plan for the next 20 years and beyond.”

The future of what Smiga calls “the country Shore” — in particular the Bayshore, Atlantic coastline and “Two River” areas of Monmouth County — is the primary topic this Friday, when the first-ever TEDx Navesink event comes to the Performing Arts Center at Brookdale Community College. The daylong ideafest features more than two dozen short lectures by innovators in education, technology, science, sustainability and the arts, who “will give the talks of their lives during 5-to 18 minute presentations that focus on their contributions, thoughts and vision for the future of the New Jersey Shore,” according to the promo lit.

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SEA BRIGHT: CHILLY RECEPTION FOR LNG PLAN

Attendees at the event, held in a tent on the municipal beach, viewed information displays about the project. Below, a rendering of the transfer system. (Photo above by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

An all-too familiar storm is brewing on the Jersey Shore, as local environmentalists are turning up the heat on Governor Chris Christie to block a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port from being built just miles away from Sea Bright.

Dozens took their frustrations to the Sea Bright beach Thursday night at a “citizen public hearing” held by Sandy Hook-based Clean Ocean Action. At issue: an LNG ocean-transfer terminal, dubbed Port Ambrose. An applicant called Liberty Natural Gas applied last month for federal permits to build the deepwater port 24 miles east of Long Branch in 103 feet of water.

The terminal, handling gas chilled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, would be in different location than one proposed in 2010 and later nixed a year later by Christie.

“Make no mistake, it is déjà vu. You were here before, and this was happening before,” said Clean Ocean Action executive director Cindy Zipf.

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CASE OF ALLEGED TREE ‘MURDER’ CONTINUES

35-nav-rumsonConstruction of a 5,000-square-foot home is underway on the Navesink Avenue site that neighbors claim was improperly clear-cut. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A dispute between neighboring property owners over the removal of trees from a Rumson building site took on the air of a trial Monday night.

But the planning board wrapped up a three-hour hearing without a verdict… er, decision… on whether borough officials allowed builder John Tsakiris to get away with a wholesale tree “murder,” as alleged by neighbors Rick Jones and Cindy Zipf.

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RUMSON TREE TUSSLE RESUMES

Rick Jones, who shot this video in August, and his wife, Cindy Zipf, claim flooding in their neighborhood was worsened by clear-cutting that the town should not have allowed.

A dispute over the removal of trees from a residential building lot in Rumson continues in public Monday night with neighbor expecting a “show down” with a developer, she and her husband say in a press release.

Borough officials, however, contend that Cindy Zipf‘s claim that They turned a blind eye to a wholesale “murder ” of trees on Navesink Avenue is unfounded.

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RED BANKER HOLDS TILLER FOR CLEARWATER

thewagtraveler-097a_1293715884Think global, act local: Middletown-based band The Wag is among the Shore area acts taking the main stage at the 36th annual Clearwater Festival, scheduled for August 20. (Photo courtesy of  Larry Russo)

By TOM CHESEK

“We’re not just putting on a big party each year,” says Ben Forest. “Although of course it is — a party with a purpose.”

Forest, vice president of the Red Bank-based nonprofit NJ Friends of Clearwater — and a man with an irresistibly evergreen, treehug-friendly name — is referring to one of the Shore’s most successful marriages of music and message: the annual Clearwater Festival, the 36th edition of which returns Saturday, August 20.

Red Bankers know Forest as a long-serving member of the borough’s board of ed; as an active voice (with wife Amy Goldsmith) for West Side residents — and as a Mac computer specialist who keeps the often inscrutable machinery of local businesses, schools and media living to fight another day. For nearly a quarter century, he’s been a volunteer and an officer of the local chapter of Clearwater — the organization established in the 1970s as a vehicle for carrying the mission of Pete Seeger’s original enviro-awareness group to the shores of the Raritan Bay and the local Atlantic coast.

Naturally, Forest’s exalted position as Clearwater’s Committee Liaison for Environmental Policy — an office through which he’s been able to bend the ear of governors, members of Congress and the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency — hasn’t prevented him from pulling down duty as a flipper of burgers, collector of trash and de facto roadie during past presentations of the Clearwater Fest. With this year’s free event fast approaching, the predicament — unlike some of the region’s waterways — couldn’t be more clear: Clearwater needs volunteers.

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TREE ‘MURDER’ ALLEGED IN RUMSON

c-zipfCindy Zipf, right, shows residents photos of her neighbor’s property, which she says was clear-cut of its trees. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The quest by a Rumson couple to prove that local officials negligently allowed the “murder” of numerous trees on a residential building lot drew a packed house of lawyers, experts and crestfallen neighbors to Monday night’s planning board meeting.

With their appeal of tree-removal permit granted by Frederick André, the borough’s tree conservation officer, Clean Ocean Action founder and executive director Cindy Zipf and her husband, Rick Jones say they hope to win an acknowledgment that mistakes were made and stricter enforcement of a tree-protection ordinance.

A lawyer by their side, Zipf and Jones paged through a sheaf of documents showing, they argue, that the property next door to their home at 37 Navesink Avenue was the site of a “murder of trees” that violated the ordinance.

The alleged slaughter could have been prevented had André, who is also the planning board’s secretary, properly done his job, they say.

“The tree conservation officer failed to implement basic procedures. The tree conservation officer allowed a clear-cut at 35 Navesink Avenue,” said Andrew Provence, a lawyer with Ansell, Grimm and Aaron. “What happened at 35 Navesink is plainly a clear-cut. To call it anything else is an insult to this borough, this board, my clients and the people of Rumson.”

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RUMSONITES BARK AT TREE TAKEDOWN

doug-spencerShade Tree Commission Chairman Doug Spencer shows residents a piece of a tree Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven officials aren’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to adapting to changes to the borough’s tree preservation ordinance. And now, they have a little company.

On Tuesday night, Rumson’s council suddenly found itself in the middle of a thorny debate over the efficacy of its tree preservation law after a Navesink Avenue property’s tree population was decimated last week, residents said.

Change to the ordinance and bolstered enforcement are likely, council members said.

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CHRISTIE: NO TO LNG & DRILLING PROJECTS

sb-christie-2-042210Governor Chris Christie at Surfrider Beach Club in Sea Bright Thursday, flanked by his daughter Brigit, former Gov. Tom Kean and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. (Photo by Tim Larsen; click to enlarge)

There will be no oil rigs visible from New Jersey’s beaches, and no man-made islands or floating pipelines to transfer liquefied natural gas from ship to shore under his watch, Governor Chris Christie vowed Thursday.

At an oceanfront beach club in Sea Bright to mark the fortieth Earth Day, Christie said that while natural gas is a critical piece of the state’s energy future, “for as long as I am governor, this administration will oppose any application for liquefied natural gas,” according to the Asbury Park Press.

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GROUPS PREPARE EARTH DAY EVENTS

earthA close-up view of planet Earth. (Click to enlarge)

Done2Here are some announcements of Earth Day activities scheduled for the next few days:

Earth Day Celebration at Red Bank Primary School

Got Earth Day plans? If not, please check out the Earth Day Exposition at the Red Bank Primary School on April 22nd.

Organized by Primary School teacher Christina Vlahos, with support from the Red Bank Green Team (of which Christina is a member), the event showcases student projects and demonstrations, educational opportunities, and local businesses and organizations.

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LNG ISLAND IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Island420x280

By JoANN PILEGGI

A proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) transfer facility that backers see as a fix to energy woes and opponents call “Insanity Island” gets its first public airing tonight.

The showdown pits dozens of environmental groups against Atlantic Sea Island Group, a company that bills its project as a “safe energy harbor” to be built in the Atlantic about 19 miles due east of Sea Bright, in 65 feet of water.

The venue for the showdown: a hearing on the proposed deepwater port held jointly by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration at the Sheraton of Eatontown. An open house starting at 4:30p is to be followed by the hearing, from 6 to 8p.

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