John Valeri, Jr.
The Bernards Township Environmental Commission is responsible for ensuring that environmental issues in Bernards Township are given the right priority in order to protect and preserve natural resources of the town and surrounding areas including: land, water, air, and bios (flora and fauna).
The Commission accomplishes it's mission through:
- Taking proactive stances on local environmental matters, and strengthening the local planning process;
- Coordinating rational, balanced reviews of development applications for the appropriate township bodies;
- Increasing public awareness and understanding of local and regional environmental issues;
- Keeping abreast of, and involvement in, as appropriate, issues in surrounding areas and communities.
Reduce your climate impact today in Bernard's Township!
We all contribute to global warming when we do things like heat and cool our homes, drive our cars, and fly on airplanes. Inevitably, in going about our daily lives - commuting, sheltering our families, eating - each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Yet, there are many things each of us, as individuals, can do to reduce our carbon emissions.
You've probably heard of the Ecological Footprint - the metric that allows us to calculate human pressure on the planet and come up with the CO2 emission we are contributing in our daily life. Access the external links to the right for more information and to estimate how much annual carbon dioxide results from your day-to-day activities and help us reduce carbon emission and make a difference.
Current Plans and Projects of the Environmental Commission:
- Natural Resource Inventory
- Conservation Master Plan for the Upper Passaic River Riparian Conservation Project
- Charter Day Participation
- Review and Provide Comment on Development Applications going before the Board of Adjustment or Planning Boards
- Participate in proposing and revising environmentally sensitive ordinances
- Special School Projects / Contests / Grants
The Environmental Commission offers a "Tip of the Week" to promote environmentally friendly actions that can be taken at home and in the community. If you have a specific action that you have taken to better the planet and you would like us to consider promoting it as the tip of the week, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
"I just found out I have a conservation easement on my property."
What does that mean to you as an owner of a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is an area of your land that can't be developed. Conservation easements preserve plant and wildlife habitats and protect environmentally sensitive areas such as waterways, wetlands, wetland transition areas, steep slopes, streams, and stream buffer areas.
For more information on conservation easements:
Endangered and threatened animals need large, contiguous habitats in order to survive. In Bernards Township, we play host to 5 species of wildlife that are considered endangered or threatened:
- Bog Turtle
- Wood Turtle
- Barred Owl
- Red Shouldered Hawk
- Blue Spotted Salamander
For more information and possible habitat areas for these species:
For more information of endangered and threatened wildlife and critical habitats, visit:
Invasive species are plants that have been introduced to an area that can alter and damage the ecological relationship among native species. The list below contains some of the more aggressive invasive plants found in Bernards Township. The Environmental Commission recommends that all development applications be checked against this list to ensure that invasive species are not listed. Township residents should learn to identify each species. Due to their highly aggressive nature, we urge you not to plant them on your property.
Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia
Norway Maple - Acer platanoides
Tree of Heaven - Alianthus altissima
Alder Buckthorn - R. frangula
Autumn Olive - Elaeaghus angustifolia
Buckthorn - Rhamnus cartharticus
Butterfly Bush - Buddleia davidii
Japanese Barberry - Berberis thunbergii
Multiflora Rose - Rosa multiflora
Russian Olive - Elaeaghus angustifolia
Asian Bittersweet - Celastrus orbiculatus
English Ivy - Hedera helix
Japanese Honeysuckle - Lonicera japonica
Chickory - Cichorium intybus
Crown Vetch - Coronilla varia
Curly Dock - Rumex crispus
Dane's Rocket - Hesperis matronalis
English Plaintain - Plantago lanceolata
Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata
Gill-Over-The-Ground - Glechoma hederacea
Japanese Knotweed - Polygonium cuspidatam
Mugwort - Artemisia volgaris
Musk Mallow - Malva moschata
Purple Loosestrife - Lythrum salicaria
Red Clover - Trifolium pratense
White Clover - T. repens
White Sweet Clover - Meliotus alba
Wild Carrot - Daucus carota
Yarrow - Achillea millefolium
Bamboo - Arundinaria, Bambusa, Dendrocalamus
Barnyard Grass - Echinochloa crusgali
Bermuda Grass - Cynodon dactylon
Common Reed - Phragmites australis
Crab Grass - Diogotaroa sanguinalis
Day Lily - Hemercallus fulva
Field Garlic - Allium vineale
Japanese Stilt Grass - Microstegium vimineum
Orchard Grass - Dactylis glomerata
For a complete list of invasive species, to aid in identification, and to learn the best methods for control please visit the United States Department of Agriculture National Invasive Species Information Center.
The Bernards Township Natural Resources Inventory contains maps and text highlighting the rich natural resources of the township.
The Inventory provides information on wetlands, endangered wildlife, streams and watershed data, geology, ground water discharge, and soil characteristics.
The safest way to a beautiful lawn is to work with nature, not against it. "Organic Lawn Care" focuses on the soil to build a beautiful, deep-rooted, dense lawn. Costs and maintenance requirements are lower vs. synthetic pesticide lawn care programs after the first one to two years. Comparative cost analysis study.
Synthetic pesticides (e.g., herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) and synthetic fertilizers used in traditional lawn care programs are associated with health risks which are especially consequential for children and pets (fact sheets provided by BeyondPesticides.org). Synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers trap lawns into an unhealthy and expensive cycle of chemical dependency. For a discussion of the benefits of organic fertilizer over synthetic fertilizer, click here.
Organic lawn care can be done on a do-it-yourself basis (Article, Brochure, Videos) or by a lawn care professional specializing in the process. NOFA (The Northeast Organic Farming Association) offers an organic lawn care accreditation program for professionals. NOFA offers a list of accredited organic lawn care professionals in the eastern U.S. NOFA-NJ also assembled 2011 and 2012 lists which contained broader listings of both NOFA accredited and unaccredited NJ organic lawn care professionals. Also, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has an Organic Land Care program, and lookup tool of landscapers whom have completed the program’s requirements.
If you live in a condominium or rental community, discuss hiring an organic lawn care professional with your board or property manager. Until this occurs, be aware that per the NJDEP Pesticide Control Program (Subchapter 9 - Pesticide Exposure Management, 7:30-9:13 - Notification: Turf or Ornamental Applications) you have the right to receive - upon request - advance notification of any pesticide applications as well as the pesticide labels.
In 2008 Bernards Township, NJ adopted an Integrated Pest Management Resolution covering all township owned property. The policy utilizes organic lawn care practices allowing for the elimination of synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertilizer on all sports fields and key lawn areas, and it designates all parks as Pesticide Free Zones. The Board of Health supported the policy by passing Resulotion BH 10:09, and the Board of Education followed with their own policy declaring that school lawns and sports fields shall be managed without lawn care pesticides. The Mayor, the Township Committee, the Board of Health, the Green Team, the Board of Education, and the Environmental Commission encourage all citizens to participate in this endeavor on their own property.
Organic Lawn Care Basics
This is a short summary of what you will find in the brochure and video links above as well as in the materials below:
- Feed the Soil - Add compost and liquid "compost tea" to the lawn.
- Feed the Turf - Leave grass clippings (mulched, ideally) in the lawn to recycle nutrients and add organic matter. Fertilizer needs will be reduced by at least 25%. Replace synthetic fertilizer with organic fertilizer (look for organic fertilizers which say they are "OMRI Listed" on their packaging) to build the soil, feed the turf, and reduce watering needs by 30% according to Harvard's findings.
- Overseed - Thick turf out-competes weeds. Apply seed over the existing lawn in early fall, and aerate the soil. Consider using a diversity of seed types to strengthen the turf's resistance to disease impacting a single type of turf. Note that tall fescue, fine-leaf fescue, and perennial ryegrass turf grass types are advantageous as they contain fungi which in turn create compounds which are toxic to certain grubs.
- Test the Soil - Soil tests identify the need for amendments (typically lime (calcium) to raise the pH) and fertilizer nutrients. A soil pH between 6 and 7 is required for weed prevention. See the fertilizer link above for a link to the local soil test lab.
- Mow High - Cutting the grass height at 3-4 inches helps reduce watering needs by allowing the soil to retain more moisture, and it also prevents weeds. Keep mower blades sharp to limit disease.
- Water Only As Needed - Too much water makes lawns vulnerable to disease and encourages shallow turf roots which is detrimental the turf's self-sufficiency. 1" of water per week, delivered in a short interval, is optimal to foster a strong deep-rooted turf.
- Weed Control - Corn gluten, applied during spring when the Forsythia bloom, prevents weeds from germinating. For spot weed control on sidewalks and driveways, use a lemon juice & vinegar mixture.
- Pest Control - Common lawn insects can be controlled in the current season with beneficial nematodes. Longer term, Milky Spore Powder controls for Japanese beetle grubs. Organisms in compost and liquid "compost tea" helps keep lawns healthy and pest-free.
The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey
The NOFA Organic Lawn and Turf Handbook by the NOFA Organic Lawn Care Committee
Movies and Videos
The DVD movie A Chemical Reaction chronicles the origin of the organic lawn care movement in Canada and the U.S., and it also serves as an educational vehicle for individuals and organizations interested in reducing or eliminating lawn care pesticides.
The How to Make the Organic Lawn Care Transition DVD won a major award from the Garden Writers Association of America, and is available from SafeLawns.org. The DVD includes 16 how-to segments that cover an entire season of lawn care from spring through fall.
Playing it Safe video - produced in support of the New York's 2010 Child Safe Playing Field Act.
This Old House compost tea video - Roger Cook and Kevin O'Connor discuss making compost tea at Harvard Yard and in your own yard.
The Bernards Township Tree Replacement Lists were developed to help ensure that new landscaping put in by developers is of native species.
For information on vegetation for dry, moist and wet habitats to help make landscaping choices for your yard, download: