Two Lacey women from the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation nonprofit organization, were honored by the state for their work on the Barnegat Bay.
"It's great. We appreciated the recognition," said policy advocate Helen Henderson, of Lanoka Harbor. "There is so much attention towards Barnegat Bay right now."
The American Littoral Society received an honorable mention in the Health Ecosystems category during the 12th annual Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony on Dec. 8.
"Bayscape for Barnegat Bay" is a program created by Henderson, who worked closely with horticulturalist consultant Judy DeFiglio, also of Lanoka Harbor, to help make changes to bay conservation plans.
Henderson has been a part of the American Littoral Society for more than four years, and has been working closely with members, including DeFiglio of Lanoka Harbor, in efforts to save the Barnegat Bay.
DeFiglio is a certified master gardener from Rutgers University and a horticultural consultant specializing in native plants. She works as a consultant for the American Littoral Society for bayscaping and organizes education programs to show how homeowners can use native plants to use less fertilizer and water, and how to create less pollution to save Barnegat Bay.
"It's a nonprofit organization, so it's grant work. We get funding for projects," said DeFiglio. "We've worked for several years on different projects around Ocean County."
The goal of the American Littoral Society is to reach out to residents on how they can save the Barnegat Bay. One way, for DeFiglio, is to show residents the importance of plants native to the bay area.
"People have misconceptions that native plants are found in the woods, or are weeds. There are indeed beautiful ones that you may want in your garden," said DeFiglio.
"The end result isn't just a beautiful garden that provides a habitat. It's letting people know they're helping the bay," said Henderson. "They save some money, which is a good thing, and making a difference at the same time"
Currently, the American Littoral Society has a large focus on the Barnegat Bay. While continuing work on the , the Society is currently six months into a three-and-a-half year clean water project.
"We're looking at ways existing storm water basins capture water when it rains," said Henderson. "We're partnering with Ocean County on the project."
According to Henderson, the American Littoral Society is remaining focused on the creation of bayscaping while working on other projects. Those living in close proximity to the bay are not the only ones who can help with the preservation of the Barnegat Bay. The American Littoral Society promotes those individuals inland to help the cause, as well.
"People inland, in Jackson, matter, too," said DeFiglio. "Planting wrong things and using fertilizer has implications in the bay. It's not state officials that have to do something. It's something we each can do."
According to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, a panel of judged received more than 60 nominations for the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards featuring environmental projects.
"These concepts showcase environmental excellence at its best in our state," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "They are taking action in their communities, recognizing natural beauty, utilizing natural resources and discovering new and innovative ways to improve our environment. The winners and all of those who participated have set a truly high bar for environmental excellence among all New Jerseyans."
For more on Bayscaping the Barnegat Bay, visit: http://littoralsociety.org/Bayscape_for_Barnegat_Bay.aspx