News

4/17/2019

SJTA Joins Effort to Help Ospreys by Installing Nesting Platforms

HAMMONTON, NJ – March 25, 2019 – The South Jersey Transportation Authority plans to build and erect nesting boxes to help ospreys thrive as one of New Jersey’s largest native raptors. As part of its Roadway Environmental Advancement Initiative (READI), the SJTA will oversee the installation of the boxes on property owned by the City of Atlantic City near the Atlantic City Expressway on Friday, March 29, 2 p.m..

The resurgence of ospreys in New Jersey is an environmental success story that spans over 40 years of effort by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and local environmentalists.

According to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, where once over 500 osprey nests were found on the Jersey shore, by 1974 the number had dwindled to about 50. The decline was attributed to the loss of natural habitat from extensive development at the shore and the use of pesticides like DDT which hurts the bird’s ability to reproduce healthy eggs.

In 1974 NJ listed the osprey as an endangered species but by 1986 the success of efforts to save the bird resulted in over 100 pairs counted in the state, and NJ downgraded their status to threatened. A 2018 CWFNJ report indicates 88 nests were spotted in the Great Bay area of Atlantic City.

Ben Wurst Habitat Program Manager for CWFNJ has long been involved in the foundation’s Osprey Project and has agreed to set up the three nesting boxes with help from the SJTA’s Operations Department and volunteer students from Stockton University.

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr., representatives from the Conservation Wildlife Foundation (CWF), and NJ Fish and Wildlife Endangered and Non-Game Species, Stockton University and prominent local environmentalists are expected to attend and witness the raising of the osprey platforms. The informal celebration will also recognize the decades-long effort by dedicated environmental volunteers and students that share in the birds’ successful resurgence in South Jersey.

“The natural beauty of our area led to the creation of Atlantic City. I believe that we need to preserve that beauty, including the wildlife. The collaboration between SJTA, NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Stockton University, and the City of Atlantic City is promising, and we are seeing Osprey nest numbers continue to rise. The Osprey Nest Installation Project is another example of entities working together for a common goal where all inhabitants of our City will begin to thrive,” said Atlantic City Mayor Frank M. Gilliam Jr..

“We are pleased to work with the City of Atlantic City and other partners in establishing nesting platforms for the osprey to continue its comeback along the Jersey Shore.

These nesting platforms are just the latest aspect of the SJTA’S Roadway Environmental Advancement Initiative through which the Authority supports the wildlife and environment of South Jersey,” said the SJTA’s Executive Director Stephen F. Dougherty.

In 2017 the READI was started by the SJTA because the Atlantic City Expressway occupies a significant environmental footprint in South Jersey that includes over 1,200 acres along its 44-mile span. The initiative is designed by the South Jersey Transportation Authority to help the Expressway coexist with nature while serving as a vital transportation artery that supports commerce, tourism and economic growth in South Jersey.

The initiative includes planting acres of wildflowers and the reintroduction of native perennials, native tree plantings, establishing animal crossings and structures that support wildlife including bird boxes, bat boxes and nesting platforms for ospreys. READI has an educational component that involves presenting programs at local schools to support their environmental curriculums. These programs invite student participation in the planting of a native tree at each school visited. READI demonstrates that environmental stewardship is an everyday effort at the Authority.

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