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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Black Run Teacher Institute: New Jersey Pinelands Preservation Alliance Summer Educational Outreach Program

Apr 29, 2011 03:44PM

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) was founded in 1989 to serve as an alliance of individuals and organizations interested in protecting the Pine Barrens ecosystem and advancing the innovative regional land use protections embodied in the Pinelands Protection Act and Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

PPA seeks to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Pinelands by nurturing a culture of conservation and promoting specific policies that foster a sustainable relationship between people and nature in this region. It also supports and works to improve the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and other state programs affecting the Pinelands.

Pinelands National Reserve

The Pinelands National Reserve (PNR)—an area of 1.1 million acres in southern New Jersey that encompasses large forested areas, extensive wetlands, Barnegat Bay, the Black Run Preserve, and other coastal estuary systems, as well as urban and suburban communities—is a fundamental part of all Pinelands’ towns. PNR provides a distinctive sense of place, shapes local lifestyles, and provides the water on which all life depends.

PPA Outreach and Public Education

PPA educates and engages the public in its work and trains and assists teachers in programs such as the Black Run Summer Teacher Institute, which is intended to use the Pinelands for place-based education in the natural and social sciences.

Protecting the Thriving Black Run Stream System

In Evesham Township, at the western edge of the Pinelands, the Black Run stream system has retained its natural Pine Barrens water quality, and native plant and animal communities have thrived without competition from invasive species. This system survives intact because its watershed—a sub-watershed of the Rancocas Creek—is almost entirely undeveloped, even though the land to its west and north is heavily developed.

Much of the Black Run sub-watershed is protected in a 1200-acre municipal preserve, but the headwaters are in private hands and will eventually be developed if they are not protected by zoning or acquisition. Studies conducted by the Pinelands Commission’s science program make clear that, if the headwaters are developed as the landowner has proposed, the Black Run system will lose its natural water quality and see the slow destruction of its native Pine Barrens plant and animal communities.

Black Run Summer Teacher Institute

For the past three years, as a part of a public education outreach program based on Black Run Preserve in the Pine Barrens of

Evesham Township, PPA has held an intensive environmental education and stewardship institute for Evesham-area middle and high school teachers. Teachers are trained in the ecology and history of human uses of their local natural areas and how they can use the Preserve as an outdoor classroom. The institute also introduces students to the Preserve and gives them the knowledge they need to explore the ecosystem intelligently and responsibly.

Participants explore the Black Run Preserve under the guidance of Pine Barrens experts, who introduce them to the ecology of the Preserve and how it came to be protected. Topics include studying the site through maps and aerial photographs, hiking portions of the preserve, analyzing soils, testing water quality, sampling aquatic life, and examining the history of human impacts on the site. Participants are also introduced to geocaching and the use of GIS systems to identify and map sampling sites, field trip itineraries and other features.

The 2011 Black Run Teacher Institute will be held June 27 through July 1. The program is free and attendees receive 35 professional development credits. Lunch is provided each day. Teachers in the Evesham, Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca and Medford School Districts are encouraged to apply.
 

For additional information on Pinelands Preservation Alliance’s proposed efforts or to get involved visit PinelandsPreservationAlliance.org. Contact Mike at 609-859-8860 extension 24 or [email protected] for information about the 2011 Black Run Summer Teacher Institute.

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