Last Friday, the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust convened the yearly stakeholder meeting to discuss developments in the restoration of Petty’s Island – one of the many islands found in the Tidal Delaware River. Though the island is currently owned by the Citgo company, and easement on the land will pass ownership to the Trust in 2017. To prepare for ownership, the Trust has funded several feasibility studies to turn the island into a nature reserve with limited passive recreation opportunities and an educational mission. A visitors center will help explain the natural features of the island and explore the ecosystems that are being restored on land that has had an industrial mission for many years. Check out the entire feasibility report here.

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That industrial history was a big part of the discussion on Friday – the Trust thought that much of the industrial infrastructure, such as oil tanks, would be dismantled by now, but unforeseen events (such as Hurricane Sandy), made it impossible for Citgo to remove the structures. A recent visit to the left-over tanks and industrial buildings got the Trust thinking that this might be an opportunity to highlight Petty’s heritage as part of the Tidal Delaware’s industrial history as well as a refuge for many animals.

Over here at the Tidal Trail, we celebrate the river’s past and present role in the region’s industry. That history is part of what makes our trail such a dynamic place to explore! We are excited to see how the Trust plans on leveraging the island’s industrial heritage as an asset as the restoration occurs.

Are you looking to explore Petty’s Island and see the industrial structures living side by side with incredible natural habitats? New Jersey Audubon has several upcoming programs in which you can participate. The only way to visit the island is by joining in on these programs, so don’t miss out – there is limited space! To register for an event, contact the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary at 908.766.5787. Go here for more information, or check out the upcoming events below.

PETTY’S ISLAND GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT
With Kelly Wenzel, Project Coordinator – Urban Education
and Mike Allen, Research Project Coordinator 

Sunday, February 15 – 10:30 a.m. to Noon
This is the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) an annual, national citizen-science event sponsored by Cornell University and the National Audubon Society. Learn how to identify common suburban birds and then hike to see who is staying on Petty’s Island. After we get some practice we will officially participate in the GBBC and log our data! This program is intended for birders 12 and up with any ability level; loaner binoculars will be available. Dress warmly and be prepared to walk in snow or mud.  Registration is REQUIRED for this program.  Please call 908.766.5787
Location: Petty’s Island, Pennsauken, NJ
Cost: FREE

PETTY’S ISLAND CLEAN UP
Led by Kelly Wenzel, Project Coordinator – Urban Education
Saturday, March 21 – 9:00 a.m. to Noon
This is your chance to visit an island in transformation and to make a difference.  Help turn Petty’s Island into a safe place for people and wildlife by removing trash and debris from the shoreline and woods.  Children must be 12 and older to participate.  Registration is REQUIRED for this event. Details are given upon registration.
Location: Petty’s Island, Pennsauken, NJ
Cost: Free

SPRING ON THE DELAWARE
Led by Lloyd Shaw, Associate Naturalist
Sunday, March 29 – 7:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Discover this hidden treasure in the Delaware River!  With access granted only a few times a year this urban oasis offers a great variety of wading, shore and woodland birds in addition to views of Bald Eagles.  Registration is REQUIRED for this trip. Details are given upon registration.
Location: Petty’s Island, Pennsauken, NJ
Cost: Free

BIRDING ON THE DELAWARE RIVER 
Led by Lloyd Shaw, Associate Naturalist
Saturday, April 25 – 7:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
This wooded island in the Delaware River is truly an urban oasis for woodland, wading and shore birds.  Learn some interesting history along the way and discover how this industrial port is transforming into a wildlife sanctuary.  Registration is REQUIRED for this trip. Details are given upon registration.
Location: Petty’s Island, Pennsauken, NJ
Cost: Free

SPRING FLORA ON PETTY’S ISLAND
Led by Kathy Salisbury – President, Native Plant Society of New Jersey
Sunday, May 3 – 10:00 a.m. to Noon
Adjacent to an active port and abandoned oil tanks live some interesting plants, both native and non-native. Discover what makes this island a unique habitat for some interesting plant life while taking in spectacular views of Philadelphia.  Children must be 12 and older to participate.  Registration is REQUIRED for this event. Details are given upon registration.
Location: Petty’s Island, Pennsauken, NJ
Cost: Free

Workshops

Landscape for Life: Creating Sustainable Habitats at Home
Led by Kelly Wenzel, Project Coordinator – Urban Education
Saturday, May 30, June 6 and June 13 – 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Get practical advice on how to improve your soil, conserve water and energy, and select the right plants and materials to create a beautiful garden at home that also protects our environment. In this three-part series led by New Jersey Audubon and other local experts, each session builds awareness of recommended horticultural practices and sustainability principles, all in the context of our local conditions and resources. Participants will develop a plan to improve the sustainability of their own yards.  Our second class coincides with our Native Plant Sale – each household receives a $10 voucher to start their own habitat!  You must register for the series.  Class size is limited to 20 households.
Location: Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, 11 Hardscrabble Road, Bernardsville
Cost per Household: $100 for members; $145 for non-members