Did You Know? All About Frogs

By GSWA Volunteer, Jim Northrop

One of the most common sights in the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is seeing a frog sunning on a log or searching for food.  “Frog” is the name given to a large family of adult tailless amphibians that have smooth skin and webbed hind feet. Frogs are not unique to the Great Swamp.  They inhabit moist places, near freshwater, all over the world.

Females lay their eggs in long strings in the water.  From these eggs, fish-like larvae called tadpoles or polliwogs hatch out, each with a broad swimming tail, and gills on the sides of the head.

Tadpoles feed on small aquatic plants that they scrape from sticks and stone, with their horny jaws.  As they increase in size, the legs grow out and the tail is absorbed.  The anterior pair of legs forms first but remains concealed beneath the skin until the hind pair is well developed and conspicuous.  With the growth of legs and the loss of tail, the gills disappear and the lungs come into use.  Nevertheless, most species always remain in close proximity to water through out their life.

Adults live on animal food such as insects, mollusks, and small fishes.  Some do not hesitate to eat members of their own species.  Frogs are useful to man in keeping down certain species of insects.  They are caught for the flesh in their hind legs, which is tasty white meat of a mild flavor.

The largest North American frog is the bullfrog, 5 to 8 inches long, found almost everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.

2017 Stream Monitoring Agenda

By Sandra LaVigne, Director of Water Quality Programs

Beginning in 2017, as part of GSWA’s new expanded mission and role as the Passaic River Waterkeeper, we will begin to monitor sites downstream of Millington Gorge, the traditional end-point for sampling in our watershed. While we will still continue to closely monitor all of the streams within our Great Swamp Watershed (maintaining two monitoring sites on each of our five streams above the gorge as well as our Millington Gorge site), we have selected four additional sites between the gorge and Chatham Borough, to increase our understanding of the water quality in lower Passaic River.

Our new sites have been strategically chosen to monitor the inputs to the river from the surrounding communities.  Some of the sites are located near past USGS (United States Geological Survey) or NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) collection sites, allowing us to compare our 2017 results to historic data. Continue reading

Author Mary Bruno’s 2016 Gala Keynote Remarks

Good evening, everybody, and thank you for inviting me to speak. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here on such a big night. And this really is a Big Night.

I’m here tonight because, having grown up along the degraded lower stretch of the Passaic, I had a burning question: How did a river that was once celebrated for its beauty become an EPA Superfund site?

In my quest to find an answer, I found Andy Willner, who at the time was still the executive director of the NY/NJ Baykeeper Association. I’m sure many of you know Andy.

He told me that the Passaic’s biggest problem was that it had become a stranger to the people who lived in its watershed. That people didn’t know the river any more, and that you can’t love something that you don’t know.

Up to that point, I had thought of the Passaic as the dark and menacing monster of my youth. Andy helped me see that the Passaic wasn’t a monster at all. It was a victim. A victim of our own greed and ignorance and complacency and shortsightedness.

Andy was an advocate. And that’s what advocates do: They tell us things we didn’t know. Using reason and passion and eloquence and persistence — and maybe a lawsuit here and there — they help us to see a truth about the world, and about ourselves.

They traffic in epiphanies.

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Eagle Scout Project – A Success!

Matt Bennett, a Madison High School Senior, can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as he looks to wrap up his yearlong Eagle Scout project with Great Swamp Watershed Association over the coming weeks!

Matt, a member of Troop 25, in Madison Boro, has been working with GSWA to increase the passive educational opportunities at the organization’s 53 acre Conservation Management Area. A successful Eagle Scout project must highlight leadership and allow for a project that will have lasting impact to the community the Eagle Scout works with.  His project to research, design, create and install 20 wildlife interpretive signs at the CMA will certainly pass the longevity bar for a great project!

Over a year ago, Matt began his project by reaching out to GSWA Director of Education and Outreach, Hazel England, with his initial desire to complete his Eagle Scout award at the Conservation Management Area.  After walking the trails and learning what some of the stewardship, education, and conservation needs and goals for the property were, he refined his potential project to create signage that encouraged hikers to learn more about some of the native plants and animals to be found on the property.  Over the winter months he and his fellow scouts researched the species they would highlight, refined their plans, revisited the site with GSWA trustee John Neale, and visited area hardware providers to solicit donations. They began to draw and use dremel tools to craft the Corian signs that they would install.  Locations were picked to install the various signs, with 4”x4” posts and wooden backboards being installed in place ready for the final signs.

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