(from l to r) DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, forester Bob Williams, Stefanie Haines of PICC, John Parke from NJ Audubon, and David Zimmer of the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust (photo courtesy NJ Audubon)

story adapted from DEP news release

On December 11, the Christie Administration honored a diverse group of environmental stewards for their leadership and efforts to improve their communities through green practices designed to protect the environment.  The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards are the state’s premier environmental awards program for recognizing outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects in the state. Including today’s event, the GEEA program has recognized 170 winners since 2000.  The Pine Island Cranberry Company, managed by forester Bob Williams at Pine Creek Forestry, LLC, received the award for the Healthy Ecosystems category.

The Pine Island Cranberry Company (PICC) in Chatsworth, Burlington County, has had a DEP-approved Forest Stewardship Plan in place since 2001. This plan has produced successional habitat suitable for quail and other plant and animal species. Because of that success, the PICC was chosen to be used as a study site for a multi-state Northern Bobwhite Quail Recovery Study, in hopes of restoring the Bobwhite population. This population had plummeted to levels of near-extinction in New Jersey and a more than 80 percent decline nationwide in the past 40 years, according to the National Audubon Society. Beginning in 2015, the PICC, along with other study project partners, did the first release of wild Bobwhite brought from Georgia to PICC. Since then, 240 wild birds have been released and tracked at PICC, 39 nests have occurred, 116 confirmed chicks have hatched, birds were confirmed to over-winter from year to year, and confirmed nest successes occurred. The result of PICC’s successful land management methods led to the first-ever federal allocation this year for quail habitat restoration in New Jersey.

For more information, click here: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/newsrel/2017/17_0120.htm