|December 4, 2014|
|Dear Friends of the Reservation,The Board of the South Mountain Conservancy sends its holiday wishes and thanks all of you for the many hours of volunteering and economic support during this past year, our fifteenth. As stewards of and advocates for the South Mountain Reservation, we continued to protect, restore, and enhance the forest ecology, infrastructure, and natural beauty of the park, and promote its sustainable use. And we not only maintained our established programs, we launched new ones.
We need volunteers and ongoing financial support each year to make these things happen. If you feel this unique Essex County resource makes a difference in your life and that of the larger community, become an SMC member at any level for 2015 by clicking on www.somocon.org/membershipdonate/)
This year, we worked to support our mission by…
– Helping thwart, in concert with Save Our Reservation and RAFSA, a proposal to build an 810-foot dam and 80-acre detention basin by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The groundswell of public opposition helped direct the NJ DEP and the corps toward other options to mitigate flood damage along the Rahway River. (Read more at: http://www.somocon.org/rafsa/)
– Supporting public art by curating and helping fund the Wildflower Sculpture Park. (Read more at: http://www.somocon.org/about-the-reservation/recreational-facilities/sculptors-and-sculptures-at-the-wildflower-sculpture-park/)
– Urging the NJ DEP to press the County to restore 7,000 sq. ft. of the Reservation behind 20 and 16 Woodcrest Ave., Millburn, where we estimate 24 mature trees were clear cut and a lawn planted creating $169,000 in damage. (Read more at http://www.somocon.org/issues-and-positions/)
– Keeping an eye on the restoration plantings being done as part of the $28 million “S-curve” reconstruction by the County. (Read more at http://www.northjersey.com/news/work-begins-on-s-curves-1.998482)
– Maintaining 25 miles of blazed trails through the Trailkeepers.
– Removing dozens of fallen trees from trails through the efforts of the Chain Saw Gang.
– Repairing and rerouting several sections of hiking trails with the volunteers on the Trail Work Crew like the new steps at Tulip Springs and the repair of the Hemlock Falls Loop Trail.
– Improving forest regeneration especially in the Wildflower and Forest Preserve by plantings and removing invasive plants by the dozens of volunteers for the Regeneration Corps.
– Successfully advocating for County funding of a rigorous assessment of the ecology and fencing structures of the 42 regeneration sites. (The report should be completed this month and posted on our website.)
– Helping keep all the major picnic areas free of litter through the community groups working with the Trash Tacklers.
– Managing the 10 to 62-mile Mayapple Trail Runs for 67 runners.
– Successfully running, with great support from the County, our first SMR Campout in September. Despite the drizzle, 33 families with young children engaged in hikes, nature programs and games. (See photos on the www.somocon.org homepage.)
– Continued advocacy for an expanded annual County deer culling to bring the population density to below 10 deer per square mile. The SMR still has almost twice that level. The County does a lot, but needs to do more; we remind them. (The deer problem is becoming an issue in NYC parks which is now also doing culling and forest regeneration. Read more at http://nytimes.com/2014/11/28/nyregion/growing-deer-herds-unwelcome-at-new-york-city-parks.html?referrer=&_r=0.)
– Leading some three dozen free hikes for hundreds of adults and children with special walks covering birding, foraging, and history.
– Managing special projects with Eagle Scouts, like the recently completed pergola at entrance to the Wildflower and Forest Preserve.
– Lobbying the County to not overbuild along newly opened Orange Reservoir Promenade and put aside plans for another SMR dog park. (Read more at http://www.somocon.org/issues-and-positions/letter-to-orange-mayor-opposing-proposed-county-dog-park-at-reservoir/)
If you believe these activities help sustain our local natural environment, and that a community group is needed to serve as a partner and, at times, a gadfly to advise and monitor the Parks Department and compensate with our volunteers for its ever-diminishing budget, help support us in 2015 by clicking on www.somocon.org/membershipdonate/)
Next year, more hikes, more forest regeneration, more trail maintenance, more public programs, and more improvements to our website are planned. For example:
So while there are many challenges, what we continue to protect, restore, and enhance is well worth it: a 2,110-acre oasis, a restorative sanctuary amid our dense sea of suburban development. Richard Louv’s influential “Last Child in the Woods” argues for saving children from nature-deficit disorder. This goes for adults as well.
Help us continue to make this a resource for our children, and their children. We need your support for our communications infrastructure — our phone (844-SOMOCON), website (www.somocon.org), and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), for tools, gloves, trash bags, bug repellent, water and snacks, and for larger efforts like the public art, new plantings, and infrastructure repairs (we restored The Crag shelter a few years ago), and planned studies. As volunteers, we have no office and low overhead so virtually all donations go to our programs.
If you appreciate what we have done, and agree with what we stand for and plan to do, help us in 2015 by becoming a member at one of several levels. If you have become a member since October 1, you are set for 2015. If not, visit www.somocon.org/membershipdonate/).
And have a wonderful holiday season.
Dennis Percher, Chair
The South Mountain Conservancy, a volunteer non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, is dedicated to being the advocate and steward for Essex County’s 2,110-acre South Mountain Reservation. We help protect, preserve, and improve the park’s ecology and infrastructure through the volunteer efforts of dozens of individuals and community groups. Founded in March 2000, it works in concert with the Essex County Department of Parks by providing ongoing assessments of the Reservation and helping plan and manage restoration projects. For more information about joining and supporting the SMC, visit www.somocon.org, e-mail email@example.com, or leave a message at 844-SOM-OCON.