Project Leader: Susan Robinson Project Dates: August 16 - December 10, 2010 Email Address: srobinson@theSCA.org
Team Gateway’s last week was spent wrapping things up and enjoying their final days at Sandy Hook. The corps members (finally!) visited the oldest operating lighthouse in the US right here in Sandy Hook and the 1940s renovated History House on Officer’s Row. We also were treated to a lovely dinner by Resource Manager Jeanne at Casa Comida. Since everyone went away for the Givingthanks holiday, we made a post-holiday day dinner. Furthermore, we met with the GIS specialist and created maps of the areas we treated. It was amazing to see all the work we’d accomplished. Team Gateway removed 6206 trees of heaven (the highest amount of all the invasive plant teams at Gateway) and 100 autumn olives, and treated over 32acres of land! Now it’s time for Gateway members to move on to a bigger, better, and brighter future!
North of Spermaceti Cove on the bay side of Sandy Hook are Batteries Kingman and Mills. The good thing about Kingman and Mills was that there was much less poison ivy; however, the bad thing was that it had very dense stands of tree of heaven on a steep hillside. So it was very difficult to reach some of the trees, and the team was unable to finish the site. Yet they pulled through and were able to do a lot of work in such a confined, small area. Overall Gateway team performed cut stump treatment on 3,332 trees of heaven on less than two acres of land.
Spermaceti Cove is located north of Plum Island on the bay side and west of the Sandy Hook Visitor Center. After finishing up Plum Island, the Gateway team walked north along roadsides to Spermaceti Cove cutting down tree of heaven and treating the stumps with herbicide. Unfortunately Spermaceti Cove was covered with as much poison ivy as Plum Island. But Team Gateway endured and performed cut stump treatment of 1,608 trees of heaven! So far everyone except Nick has poison ivy rashes and itchies!
The Gateway team did research on various topics of interests related to Sandy Hook and presented them to SCA NPC and Agency staff. Mike McHale gave a presentation on the shifting coastline of Sandy Hook and offered his views on coastal property-shoreline management and restoration. Dennise Cupp developed a vegetation management/restoration plan for Sandy Hook, which included planting native plants and trees. Nick Casey talked about the New Jersey state-listed endangered black skimmers, which nested here at Sandy Hook this summer for the first time in 25years! Susan gave a different perspective on the invasive tree of heaven and looked at its beneficial properties and cultural significance in its native homeland of China. As a result, everyone was impressed and learned a lot more about Sandy Hook's "shifting sands" and coastline, endangered birds, and the invasive "heavenly" trees. The site already plans to incorporate some of Dennise's proposals in its future vegetation management plan. Overall, it will be great knowing that the Fall 2010 Gateway team is not only making its impact now but also in the future decision-making plans for the park.
Plum Island is located on the southern end of Sandy Hook on the bay side. Beach plum (tart and delicious!), Virginia creeper, prickly pear cactus, poison ivy, and dense monocultural stands of tree of heaven are among the native, introduced, and invasive plants that blanket the island. The Gateway team braved thickets of poison ivy to reach and remove 1,188 trees of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, from Plum Island! They used their chainsaw skills to perform cut-stump treatments on the invasive tree. Before moving on to the next work site, they did a final sweep of the island to make sure they didn’t miss any tree of heaven. Mission accomplished!
We brought the cloudy, rainy weather from Washington State to Sandy Hook, NJ. So we did a lot of prep work. We used the tool sharpening and chainsaw maintenance skills we learned at CM training to prepare our chainsaws, loppers, and other tools for work. We also flagged invasive plants—tree of heaven, autumn olive, and curly grass—at Plum Island, Horseshoe Cove, and the beach. In the middle of the week, we went to the Cape May Plant Materials Center to get acquainted with native plants and learn about different research projects, such as carbon sequestration benefits of native plants, bee pollination research, native grasses for biofuel, seed cleaning technologies, etc. Overall, it was a week of preparation and education.
Gateway corps members travelled to the west coast to attend a ten-day training at the Evergreen Girl Scout Camp in Longview, Washington. They received training in GIS/GPS, Wilderness First Aid, and the Game of Logging/Northeast Woodland chainsaw training. They also met and had fun with the wonderful NPC members from Congaree and Indiana Dunes! Although it was sad to leave their fellow NPC members, the Gateway team was ready to return to Sandy Hook and put their training and skills into good use!
After a long journey of driving from their home states and tackling New Jersey traffic, Gateway corps members arrived safe and sound to Sandy Hook! They were welcomed with a feast of paella, South African yellow rice, baked chicken, tomato and goat cheese galette, peach cobbler, and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake!
My name is Nicholas Casey and I hail from Denver Colorado. I attended Red Rocks Community College and studied Fine Wood Working. I joined The SCA to help serve nature. In my spare time I enjoy reading and hiking.
I am from Pittsburgh, PA and in May of 2010 I graduated Chatham College for Women (also the school of Rachel Carson) with a BS degree in Environmental Science. My senior tutorial focused on the effects of increased Roundup exposure to the common earthworm and how it interfered with their normal burrowing depth. Exactly a week after graduation, I set out to Voyageurs National Park located in northern Minnesota for my first SCA experience as an intern for their exotic plant management crew. I was able to put to use my knowledge of herbicides and found that exotic plant eradication was strangely an enjoyable task in my daily activities. I am now a member of the SCA's Native Plant Corps and am happy to be doing work that I am excited to be a part of.
Growing up I moved around a lot due to my family being military. We settled central NY back in 2000. This is where I spent a good amount of time on farms and out in the country. Developing a fondness for the outdoors I went to SUNY Brockport for "Environmental Science and biology terrestrial ecology". It is kind of a long winded degree I guess. Back in 2009 I graduated and with my new found degree I could only manage landing a gas station job. It was a year later when I found the SCA and I am quite excited to leave pumping gas behind me.
I went on a short self-guided tour of Fort Hancock today. Fort Hancock not only has the oldest operating lighthouse in the US but America's first mortar battery. Besides learning about some of the abandoned military homes and its history as a proofing (weapons testing) site, I learned about its birds and spotted some ospreys and woodchucks. I also got reacquainted with poison ivy!
For more information about Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock, here's the National Park Service's website for Gateway NRA at
Hi! I'm the Project Leader for Native Plant Corps at Gateway National Recreation Area this fall. I first began working for the SCA as a crew leader in 2009 for New York State Green Conservation Corps and did trail maintenance and construction and invasive plant removal. I look forward to working at Gateway NRA and getting things done.
|Park Photos and Website Information|
|Map of Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook, NJ|
|Kingman and Mills Batteries (Weeks 6 and 7)|
|Spermaceti Cove (Weeks 4 and 5)|
|Corps Member Presentations|
|Plum Island (Weeks 2 and 3)|
|Corps Member Training|