NJ RCD Technical Advisory Committee Meeting
Raritan Headwaters, Far Hills NJ
A. Introductions & Welcome
- In Attendance: Autumn Sylvester, Tom Bocchino, Mary Paist-Goldman, Bill Leavens, Tim Dunne, Robert Fulper, Frank Pinto, Diane Gunson (on the phone: Ken Bogen, Anthony Soriano)
Council/Board members: Gary Pohoroly, Eric Snyder
Staff: Laura Tessieri, Bridgett Hilshey, Christian Bench, Alicia Huber, Eric Romaine, Kyle Richter
B. Overview of Membership & Purpose of Advisory Committee
- Membership – The TAC shall be comprised of individuals with technical, scientific, agricultural, and programmatic experience.
- Purpose - To provide guidance and support on the development of programs and services and to act as a conduit for ongoing communication with governmental agencies. The role of the TC is advisory and has no governing authority over NJ RC&D.
- Formal establishment of the TAC as a permanent committee of the NJ RC&D is contained within the Bylaws of the North Jersey RC&D Area, Inc. Bylaws also contain a provision to elect a Chair/Vice Chair.
- Eric Snyder, RC&D Board Chair, motioned to formally constitute the willing members in attendance, seconded by Gary Pohoroly, RC&D Vice Chair/Secretary.
Action Item: If you are interested in TAC Chair/Vice Chair position, please let Laura Tessieri, firstname.lastname@example.org know. Will add to June agenda.
C. Brief RC&D Updates
· Past Events (No-Till & Cover Crop Conference, No-Till Field Day)
- 1st NJ No-Till & Cover Crop Conference held in Dec 2018 in Washington, NJ at Hawk Pointe Golf Course was well received. Over 110 in attendance; half of those farmers; several breakout sessions, with speakers from PA and NJ; 9 sponsors for the event plus 4 gov’t/nonprofit tables. https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/conference
- No- Till Tips and Tricks Field Day, March 1, 2019 at Tom Meyers Farm in Pittstown. Built on momentum at the conference, hands on demonstration, over 50 farmers attending, speakers included John Nance, Charlie Martin and Hoober reps.
· Future Events
- Northwest New Jersey Rivers Conference, Centenary University, Hackettstown, NJ - March 30, 2019 www.northwestnewjerseyrivers.org)
- 11 Nonprofit partners within the NJ Highlands Delaware River Watershed Initiative are hosting this conference; main audience municipal and environmental leaders, students.
- North Jersey RC&D will be presenting on River Friendly Farm Certification
- March 14th is National Ag Day. We are promoting a video through social media that was produced through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. The video features Riverine Ranch, a River Friendly Certified Farm, and their water buffalo.
Action Item: Check out video, link to our social media pages and help us share via Facebook and Twitter:
Link to FB River Friendly page: https://www.facebook.com/riverfriendlyfarms/
Link to RC&D FB page: https://www.facebook.com/NJRCD/
Link to full video: https://youtu.be/ZFoL9hkHBdo
- Agricultural Conservation Planning Tool – Final Product is now on our website (NFWF grant deliverable) This is a great tool for those meeting with farmers and talking conservation or preservation to ask the right questions. The online form produces a template report and keeps records. https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/conservationplanningtool
- North Jersey RC&D Website:
Action Item: Please take a look at our website and comment! https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/ We’ve updated over the last year and are interested in your feedback. Please provide feedback to email@example.com Thank you!
· Funding Sources
- Watershed focus maps displayed. Areas include Neshanic/Back Brook, Readington Twp (Holland Brook/Pleasant Run), Musconetcong and Lopatcong watersheds. Focus map is also on our website where you can enter an address: https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/our-focus-area
- NE SARE Professional Development grant awarded to North Jersey RC&D; Designed to “Train the Trainers” to provide training on specific techniques and challenges of planting cover crops and no-till – how to actually do it not the science behind it; Farmer panel will be convened to advise on the trainings. Target audience are TSPs, NRCS employees, other nonprofits.
D. Identification & Discussion of Area Needs
- Opened up conversation on RC&D concentration areas: improving agricultural sustainability, community needs, protecting water resources.
- Pinto: Emphasized opportunity to develop nonprofit self-sustaining fee for service opportunities. Huge need exists with regard to stewardship of open space. Fee for service opportunity? RC&D could develop management plans and then implement for state/county/municipal lands. Could create boiler plate of services with fees and send out to municipalities. Look back into past files for a business plan.
- Bocchino: Somerset County currently has a management agreement for county owed open spaces for stewardship of open space with NJCF in the Sourlands region. Contact on that program, Lisa McCullen.
- Sussex County has small grant program in development out of open space funds for stewardship awards to municipalities and nonprofits.
- Dunne: Opportunity to work on forested lands within the region (both private and public). Need exists for implementation of forest stewardship plans, not just plan development (could include firewood program, portable sawmill, etc. or contract with foresters to work with smaller landowners) NJ will be following farm assessed properties with plans as you now can be assessed without harvesting – great opportunity to provide services. Emerald Ash bore, Walnut trees (Need also exists for someone to identify these trees within 100 feet of the right away etc.)
- Multiple voices: Invasive Species control is a huge issue on public lands.
- Multiple voices: Deer management is another huge issue in the region – some farmlands are abandoned due to this. Need for commercial deer harvest. Sourlands Conservancy is working on creating a pilot program that would allow for the commercial sale of venison in the Sourlands. Farm Bureau is updating its deer survey. Mike VanCleef – contact on open space/hunting around Hopewell. Local ordinances needed against feeding of deer. Hunters Feeding the Hungry – continue support, great program. No harvesting of deer within 450’ of home issue for access.
- Opportunity to partner with farmers for accessing grant funding, SARE grants, or assisting for a fee various paperwork needs.
- Livestock Processing Need in NJ: North Jersey RC&D attended and presented at 1/15/19 NJDA livestock summit at the Rutgers EcoComplex. NJDA is applying for a grant for a feasibility study to identify and quantify the need for livestock processing facilities in New Jersey. They have asked for letters of support.
Action Item: Bill Leavens made a motion for the TAC to provide a letter of support, Frank Pinto seconded. RC&D staff prepared a letter of support on behalf of the TAC and submitted 3/26/19.
- Education around local food systems and agriculture always a need. Suggested partnering with MWA or other, accessing EPA funds, working with health system funders like Robert Wood Johnson.
- Opportunity exists for municipalities and counties to access NJ Highlands Council funds
- Future RFP for 319 state funding – RFP expected to come out this spring.
E. Program Updates & Discussion
· Rain Garden Rebate Program – Neshanic Watershed; program expected to be offered to residents this spring.
· Soil Health (Cover Crop/No-till/Rotational Grazing)
- RC&D now owns a 7.5’ No-Till Drill – to be stored at the Hunterdon SCD. Rental program is under development.
- Temporary grazing equipment loan program also under development. RC&D has acquired various mobile fencing units for grazing of cover crops and better rotational grazing.
- Fee soil and manure testing (Musconetcong and Lopatcong) – Intern hired this summer; Mention of precision soil testing that is now being performed to target application of nutrients.
- Readington Area May 4th event: highlight conservation and practice implementation at Readington River Farms.
- Next River Friendly Farm TAC meeting in the Spring
F. Other Business/ Future Opportunities/ Announcements
G. Next Meetings (June 13, September 19, December 5 – all at 1pm)