Asian Longhorned Beetle Program – A significant Asian longhorned beetle infestation was found in Carteret and Woodbridge, Middlesex County, and Rahway, Union County, after a Carteret resident on August 2 found a fertilized female beetle on a tree in his back yard. Tree climbers and other specialists from the Department and USDA began surveying a one-mile radius around that find on August 17. That morning, the search team was made available to the media for questions about the search process, and a resulting News 12 New Jersey story on the noon newscast led to another resident calling in to say she had seen the beetle in a wooded area near a commercial zone on the Carteret-Rahway border. A search of that area turned up hundreds of infested trees. Further searches led to the discovery of an infested tree in the Avenel section of Woodbridge. A 1½-mile quarantine area including Carteret, Woodbridge, Rahway and Linden was established, from which firewood, tree trimmings and some nursery products cannot be removed. In addition, the ALB effort in Jersey City, where the beetle was first found attacking trees in 2002, has been enhanced by the addition of personnel to examine the remaining host trees not yet inspected. The number of non-inspected host material in the Jersey City quarantine area has been reduced to 35 sites. A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 31, at which Department and USDA specialists will join Borough officials in enlisting the aid of residents to keep an eye out for the beetle on their own trees.
Deer Fencing Program -- The Department announced that $300,000 in state funds have been made available to reinstate a cost-share program to help provide farmers with deer fencing. The program, which had been unfounded the past several years, will begin accepting applications after September 1, with the filing deadline of November 30. Farmers can receive fencing material and up to 30 percent of the line posts needed. The program will be administered in conjunction with the Division of Fish & Wildlife of the Department of Environmental Protection. A Rutgers Cooperative Extension survey in 1998 indicated that almost 70 percent of wildlife crop loss was attributable to deer, creating an estimated $5 million to $10 million annual loss statewide.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) – The state’s first two confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis for 2004 resulted in the euthanasia of a one-year-old thoroughbred mare in Maurice River, Cumberland County and a 20-year-old gelding in Sicklerville, Camden County. The Cumberland County horse’s owner reported that the horse became ill on August 3. The horse’s condition steadily declined and the animal was humanely euthanized on August 4th. Samples sent to the NJ Animal Health Laboratory confirmed EEE. The second confirmed case of EEE in a horse was announced August 12. The horse became ill on August 6 and was euthanized on August 8. Horse owners were urged to vaccinate their animals against EEE, as well as West Nile Virus, since each vaccine does not protect horses from both diseases.
West Nile Virus – The first case of West Nile virus in a horse was diagnosed on August 17, 2004. The horse was a seven-year-old pregnant mare located in Gloucester County. The horse became ill on August 10, 2004, and was not vaccinated for West Nile virus. Last year the first case occurred on July 29, 2004, also in Gloucester County. In 2003, there was 150 cases reported in New Jersey and 51 were euthanized or died. As of August 13, 39 positive avians from 11 counties have been confirmed. At this time in 2003, there were 172 positive birds from 18 counties. Sixty-three WNV positive mosquito pools have been identified from 13 counties. At this time last year, there were 105 positive pools from 19 counties.
Reed Sod Farm Preservation – The State Agriculture Development Committee announced the preservation of 418 acres of the Reed Sod Farm in Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County. The purchase of development rights will help protect the rural character of the region. Reed Sod Farms is owned by Carole and Stuart Reed Jr. and their three children, and sells approximately 250 acres of sod annually. The purchase continues Upper Freehold Township’s role as the statewide leader in farmland preservation. To date, 6,350 acres have been preserved in the township. The preservation is a partnership effort with the Delaware & Raritan Greenway, central New Jersey’s regional land trust, as well as Monmouth County and the township.
Team Nutrition Grant – The Division of Food & Nutrition secured a 200,000 Nutrition Training Grant through the United States Department of Agriculture that will fund four programs over two years designed to make fresh fruits and vegetables a more regular part of students’ diets. New Jersey was among 21 states to get the grants. The funding will supplement the Department’s on-going efforts as part of the administration’s “Healthy Choices, Healthy Kids” initiative, which includes nutrition information and exercise and seeks to make school lunch and breakfast menus more nutritious. Programs to be funded include:
- School food service managers will be trained to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals and a la carte offerings. Tactics for marketing and promoting these products will be addressed to achieve the goal of students eating more of these healthy foods.
- Pilot schools will be funded to promote and expose children to more fruits and vegetables, providing exposure in school meal programs to different types of produce. This expanded knowledge and hands-on experience is expected to lead to children consuming greater quantities of fruits and vegetables.
- Mini-grants to 10 elementary schools (chosen through competitive applications) to provide after-school nutrition education programs for both students and their parents.
- Meetings with school business administrators to work on raising schools’ nutrition policy standards.
Jersey Fresh Seafood Web Site – The Jersey Fresh Seafood Web Site debuted August 16, providing consumers with a wide array of information on seafood products from the Garden State. Recipes, handling and storage information, listings of seafood-related events and more are available to on-line consumers who want to know more about the bounty of New Jersey’s waters. The site is an offshoot of the Jersey Fresh web site and the latest expansion of that branding program. It can be accessed at http://www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov/.
Alampi Laboratory Receives Chinese Weevil – The Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory has received the Chinese weevil (Rhinoncomimus latipes) as a potential biological control agent for the invasive vine known as mile-a-minute weed (Polygonum perfoliatum). Mile-a-minute is a rapidly growing vine that quickly covers all plants it encounters and forms an impenetrable cloak of thorny vegetation restricting movements of wildlife and regeneration of native plants. New Jersey’s colony of the weevil is only the second in the United States. In a cooperative agreement with the USDA Forest Service, the Alampi Laboratory will work to establish a colony of sufficient size and quality to ensure against loss of the species if the primary colony at the University of Delaware fails, and will also work to develop a mass production technique for the weevil. A shipment of 200 weevils was received by the laboratory from the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Delaware for a direct field release onto mile-a-minute. The weevils were released at the Flood Gate location in East Greenwich Township, Gloucester County. The site has been inspected weekly since the release with adult weevils and feeding damage observed. Weekly seed collections are also being made to support the effort to rear beetles for future releases.