The Sustainable State of Ewing’s Public Schools

A Report by Ewing Public Schools Administrator Dennis Nettleton

Come to the January meeting of the Ewing Green Team on January 25th to receive an update on the many improvements and plans for improvement ongoing in the Ewing School District.

The schools in Ewing Township registered in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program  in the fall of 2015.   Their approach to certification is a three year one, and each year the district schools plans to address a different aspect of the “people, planet and prosperity” tenet of Sustainable Jersey mantra.  In their first year in the program they began with Sustainable Jersey actions in the “people” category.  In 2016-2017 they are focusing on activities that promote “prosperity” in our schools and then move on to actions that promote the planet in subsequent years.   Their approach to participating in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program is methodical and prototypical.

Initiatives so far include:

  • formation of a district “green team”
  • an accessible communications strategy that is paperless and web-based
  • School gardens at each of the five schools in the district
  • pedestrian and bicycle safety initiatives
  • health and wellness initiatives including fitness activities

We invite all parents with children in the Ewing School system to learn how the district is initiating sustainability initiatives and the current status of their approach to certification.

Date: Wednesday, Jan 25
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: Ewing Senior and Community Center, Community Room
Details: Free and open to the public

Sustained Applause!

We are delighted to announce that Ewing has achieved Sustainable Jersey Silver Certification!  Of the 565 registered municipalities in New Jersey, Ewing is one of only 198 New Jersey towns that are Sustainable Jersey certified and, only 39 towns that have attained recognition at this level.  By becoming a Sustainable Jersey certified town, Ewing Township reinforces its commitment to saving resources, the environment and the planet.   Mayor Bert Steinmann, as well as participating Township staff and green team members will be accepting the award at the NJ League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City in November.

Sustainability Champion

In addition, we have just learned that Ewing has achieved the 2016 Sustainability Champion award in the medium municipality category (population between 5,000 – 39,999) .   The award is for receiving the highest number of points in this population category.  This award is one of five categories awarded each year: Sustainability Champion, Leadership, Creativity & Innovation, Collaboration, and Rookie of the Year. Award winners are selected from the municipalities that were certified or recertified in the designated award year.

Building a Sustainable Future in NJ

Across New Jersey, hundreds of towns are now working on sustainability programs to help the environment and their bottom lines. Efforts to curb carbon emissions, protect natural resources and reduce waste are happening at the local level.  Through the voluntary program, communities are implementing solar power and wind turbine projects, rain capture and reuse efforts, new walking and biking programs, building and operating community food gardens, launching community outreach programs on recycling and energy, and dozens of other initiatives.

To become Sustainable Jersey certified, Ewing had to complete a balance of the rigorous program sustainability actions. In addition, Ewing created a green team and did 4 priority actions by instituting a green business recognition program, taking a sustainable land use pledge, completing a natural resource inventory, and running a prescription drug safety and disposal initiative.  Please see Ewing’s Sustainable Jersey Profile to view the 2016 Silver Certification Report for details of the actions that were considered in becoming Silver Certified.

About Sustainable Jersey

Sustainable Jersey certification is a prestigious designation for municipal governments in New Jersey. Municipalities that achieve certification are considered by their peers, by state government and by the experts and civic organizations in New Jersey, to be among the leading environmental municipalities in the state. Certification is a rigorous process and once certified, Sustainable Jersey towns have access to incentives and grants; training and guidance towards the development of a sustainable community; and are promoted on the Sustainable Jersey website as a town that is doing its part for the environment.   For more information about Sustainable Jersey visit their website at http://www.sustainablejersey.com.

The Work Continues!

Despite this very gratifying recognition, much remains to be done and we invite all interested residents to participate.  A great place to start and learn about what we are doing is to attend our monthly meetings on the 4th Wednesday of each month.  If you are interested in joining the Green Team as an appointed member we encourage you to speak with a Green Team member or email ewinggreenteam@gmail.com.  New members are sworn in in January, so we’re looking for interested candidates now!

It’s All About Trees…

Ewing Township Awarded $20,000 Sustainability Grant

The Ewing Green Team is delighted to report that we were just awarded a $20,000 Sustainable Jersey grant funded by the PSEG Foundation. Four $20,000 grants, eight $10,000 grants and twenty $2,000 grants were distributed to fund a variety of projects in communities around the state.  Our grant was for protecting the community tree cover.

Ewing’s existing natural resources, including our tree cover, and the need to preserve these resources were key priorities agreed to by Township residents during the Ewing Green Team’s 2014 Community Visioning Project. Residents agreed that preserving a community’s tree canopy, both forest stands and street trees, is extremely important in combating climate change, but also in creating a community that is aesthetically appealing and that provides opportunities for residents to be closer to nature.

emerald_ash_borerHowever, events of the past several years and upcoming threats to the tree canopy make protecting our tree canopy in Ewing a challenge. In 2012 Ewing suffered substantial losses to its tree canopy in its public parks as a result of a microburst in July, followed by Hurricane Sandy in October.  Since then, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), identified by a Rapid Ash Survey completed by the Rutgers Urban Forestry Program and NJ State Forestry Services in the summer of 2015, confirmed the presence of this destructive invasive insect in Ewing.  The Survey identified more than 890 infected ash trees on public property. To protect the integrity of the tree canopy, and to increase Ewing’s tree cover overall, the township must begin a management program to replace the trees with non-invasive and native trees.

Our grant, Partnering for the Restoration of the Community Forest: The 3P Plan, Partnerships-Plan-Planting,  will fund development of partnerships (the County, Rutgers, PSE&G, DEP, and however many others we can find) to manage the spread and removals of trees infected with the Emerald Ash Borer on Ewing municipal lands.  It also include partial replacement of Ash trees (100) lost to the EAB.   And, it will include community outreach and education.  We will be working with NJ State Certified Tree Expert, Bill Brash to manage the grant.

With the EAB infestations beginning to be detected in NJ, there is a need for a well thought out, researched, planned and implemented response to the threat.  Ewing will be demonstrating a leadership role in management of this issue as we intend our process to serve as a model for other communities to follow.

More News about our Tree Canopy

In addition, Ewing Twp. has also has negotiated with the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission for replacement of trees lost from the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement project under the No Net Loss  Program(NNL).  The Twp. has been told that there will be funding for planting approximately 600 trees on municipal lands.  These will probably be planted in the fall.

We also hope to obtain grant funds to inventory Ewing parks for Ash tree locations and help the Twp. to determine locations for the 600+ NNL trees.

We are well on our way to accomplishing a number of the goals laid out by our Visioning, from tree plantings to restore our tree canopy, to sponsoring of educational workshops for the public, and more.
So, it’s a little good news for our tree canopy!  Thank you, Sustainable Jersey and PSE&G Foundation!