Introducing the 2017-2018 WMA 12 AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador: Amber Mallm

“Each year, the County’s Division of Planning hosts the AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador who serves the WMA 12 Monmouth watershed region.  The program is administered by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Water Monitoring & Standards, with 20 ambassadors serving across the state.  The program promotes watershed stewardship through education, community involvement, and biological and visual stream health monitoring. During their year of service,  Watershed Ambassadors engage with community volunteers and offer presentations to expand awareness and encourage local action.

This year’s WMA 12 Watershed Ambassador is Amber Mallm, a resident of Freehold who studied Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior with a Minor in Sustainability at Rutgers. She is passionate about improving our connections to nature and has experience in environmental education and outreach programs.  Amber is available for educational outreach initiatives for schools, scouts and other community groups.  She is also available to assist with local projects, and will be seeking volunteers to aid in stream monitoring, watershed clean-ups and native plantings.  Contact Amber at in regards to any outreach or volunteer opportunities.”

Source: Monmouth County Environmental and Sustainability Planning Newsletter, 5 October 2017

Light Pollution

The Light Pollution Map ( has an interactive map of the world that allows you to zoom in to see the levels of light pollution in our area and elsewhere. Green represents the darkest places in our area — Cheesequake Park, Sandy Hook, and the Raritan Bay. Purple is the brightest urban zones — Keyport, Red Bank, and the Route 35 corridor through Hazlet and Middletown. The greenish-yellow area represents the mid-range brightness of residential areas like Cliffwood Beach, Strathmore, Hazlet and Middletown.

According to the International Dark Sky Association, light pollution is the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light. It can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate.

Components of light pollution include:

  • Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
  • Skyglow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
  • Light trespass – light falling where it is not intended or needed
  • Clutter – bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light sources

Time Magazine’s “Worsening Light Pollution Is Bad for Your Health” explains how light pollution isn’t just a problem for astronomers.

For further information, see the IDA website or a number of other excellent online resources.

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)

Monmouth County has dedicated sewer pipes, while NY and NJ communities north and west of us combine stormwater with their sewage (black dots, map). Combined sewer systems are designed to spew effluent unprocessed directly into waterways when rain or snow melt overwhelm associated sewage treatment plants. When constructed, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) were deemed a preferable method deal with sewage backups rather than having sewage spill into homes, businesses, and public streets. However, the raw sewage discharged into waterways north and west of Aberdeen Township ends up in the Raritan Bay, polluting swimming beaches (red dots).

The New York and New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program has identified CSOs as a critical regional environmental issue to be addressed over the next five years.

See the Estuary Program’s 2008 Harbor-Wide Monitoring Report (pp 13-15) and its draft 2017-2022 Action Agenda (pp 11-23) for further information about water quality issues in the Port of NY & NJ-Raritan Bay region.

Read more on CSOs at the NY/NJ Baykeeper.

Tree Selection for the 21st Century – Urban Forestry Webinar

Wednesday’s Urban Forestry Webinar dealt with how communities have to anticipate the next forty to fifty years of climate change when picking trees to plant. The presentation “Tree Selection for the 21st Century” focused on California’s “Climate Ready Trees” study at UC Davis, which involved picking trees to test from warmer climates that were available in local nurseries but not abundant in the current forest, and could be expected to tolerate California’s habitat (soil moisture and texture), physiology (droughts, wind and salt), and biological interactions. So far, some of the dozen test species have fared better than others.

The study plan is a great model for other communities to use to conduct their own studies. Its results are only valuable to those in similar conditions. Tree selection is unique to individual environments and climate change predictions, so more studies need to be done around the country.

The webinar was well attended and it was a good sign that many participants were asking about studies in their own areas. (Note: A link to their detailed study plan can be found at the bottom of the Background tab at the Climate Ready Trees page.)

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