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sustainable land use

sustainable land use

can we recognize when a rural land becomes sprawl?

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At what point does a landscape turn from a self-supporting rural economy to one dominated by chain stores, jobs in other places and persistent traffic?  I look around the Delaware Bayshore — at it’s raw but dramatically beautiful landscapes, lovely farms,  old forests, expansive marshes, the sea itself — and wonder how long it will persist.  As the past chief of New Jersey Endangered Species Program, I have seen sustainably-functioning landscapes eroded from inappropriate development to the extent that they neither looked nor functioned like a rural economy.     Farm field in Stow Creek Township, NJ When it comes to…

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sustainable land use

a working landscape on Delaware bay

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Last week Lisa Garrison of the Hudson River Foundation, and a life-long resident of the Cohansey River watershed, hosted a group of officers of the Dodge, Penn  and The Southern NJ Community Foundations for a tour of the Delaware Bayshore.  The group explored the area including a trip down the Cohansey, with bald eagles at nearly every bend in the River.  They were asked to explore the concept of sustainable conservation through the creation of a working landscape, or an ecologically intact landscape that provide strong jobs for its residents. Bald Eagle on Cohansey River The range of opinion concerning working landscapes…

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sustainable land use

San Francisco Bay Area could be a model for Delaware Bay area

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My son, Bill Niles, is a souse chef at one-of-a-new-breed of restaurants in the San Francisco area that rely on the organic produce, fruits, and humanely raised meat from farms within a few hundred miles of the Bay area.  The restaurant — Bar Tartine, part of the nationally recognized bakery of the same name — creates dishes of a new cuisine emerging from the Bay area that is both authentic and equal to fine cuisine in other part of the US.   Chris Kronner, Bill’s executive chef, as well as chefs from the Bay area have created a culinary scene that…

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sustainable land use

organic farming isn’t easy

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We own a small bit of farmland, and my wife Mandy hopes to grow organic produce.  We will allow some years of trial and error for our endeavor because organic farming is only now emerging as a practical method for farmers, and experience is scarce here in south Jersey.  The move toward organic is slow in some ways because of the intransience of the dominant system — a familiar problem, but not unreasonable.  Our soybean field Most farmers must pressure their land to produce as much as possible to meet all the financial strains of a farm.  And, as in fisheries, most…

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sustainable land use

Maine lobstermen make a good living on a sustainable fishery

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I went down to Maine this past weekend.   Up to Maine would have been my preferred description, but apparently Mainers see themselves as being (geographically) below the rest of the nation.   Being from a state that is normally seen as lower than all others (i.e., New Jersey), I understand their feeling perfectly. Charles Duncan and his wife Laura, took us to visit their friends Sue and John, who live in an idyllic site on Deer Isle, Maine, just west of Acadia National Park.  Sue is a family practice doctor.  After being a teacher, and a carpenter, John became a lobsterman…

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sustainable land use

delaware bay fisheries need help

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    The pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of sustainable resource management dominates fishery management of the Delaware Bay. The fishery is predominantly a boom-and-bust affair that leaves most fishermen unable to make a reliable living, forcing them into other occupations to round out a living. Most of the overfishing gets little mainstream attention except for  horseshoe crab, whose population collapse from overharvest had a wider impact on Arctic-nesting shorebird populations.  Although there are many stories of woe, weakfish and sturgeon are a heart-break for anyone who cares for the bay.    Once the heart of the recreational…

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sustainable land use, wildlife conservation

toward a sustainable rural economy

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Last year, former New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine nominated me for the Pinelands Commission. I had hoped to serve in this nonpaying job, that demands extraordinary time, because I thought I could help this important commission.  My colleagues at Pinelands Preservation Alliance, who nominated me, felt optimistic after a two-year effort.  Unfortunately, at the final hour one state senator from southern New Jersey killed my appointment because, as he told the Atlantic City Press, he was “trying to save jobs”.  I was not surprised by the failure, but his justification stung.  Do conservation scientists, and by extension all conservation, cause…

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