For the second year in a row, Bayonne High School will team up with the Bayonne Golf Club on environmental projects, including the installation of osprey nests in the spring. The effort will also include PSE&G.
“We plan to continue to work with the schools on the mussels program this year,” said Ron D’Argenio, the attorney for the Bayonne Golf Club. “But this year, we’re all going to be working with the schools to construct osprey nests.”
D’Argenio said the project is being overseen by Tom Tokar, environmental teacher at Bayonne High School, for a program called Classrooms Without Walls.
“This year, we’re all going to be working with the schools to construct osprey nests.” – Ron D’Argenio
The Golf Club and PSE&G donated money toward the project.
“We donated $1, 000,” said Richard Dwyer, a spokesperson for PSE&G. “At first, he asked if the PSE&G Environmental Partnership Team would construct the two platforms (Hudson and Hackensack River sides of Bayonne), like the 12 others we did in the Hackensack River Watershed; however, we agreed it would be better for the students to take lifelong ownership of the platforms if they build them.”
Dwyer also said that this demonstrates to the students that they can take the initiative in the future because they will learn how to use a tape measure, swing a hammer, and drive a nail, things which are becoming less common in this age of video games, laptops, iPads, Kindles, and more.
“Long gone are the days of our youth when we would scour the neighborhood on the morning of garbage day looking for items to build go-karts in our alleyways,” Dwyer said.
The osprey – sometimes called a sea hawk – is a large raptor that breeds by freshwater lakes, and sometimes on coastal brackish waters. Natural nests could be comprised of sticks, driftwood, and sea weed in outcrops of rocks or even utility poles or artificial platforms. The platform design developed by Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries Inc. has become the official design of the State of New Jersey, but is also used worldwide.
In spring, a pair of osprey begins a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. The female lays two to four eggs within a month, and relies on the size of the nest to conserve heat. The eggs are incubated for about five weeks to hatch.
PSE&G is known for its involvement in efforts like this in order to minimize the company’s impact on threatened and endangered species when conducting both routine vegetation maintenance and construction activities. PSE&G manages more than 15,000 acres of forests, wetlands, meadows, and farmland located under its transmission lines.
Through its Osprey Return Program, PSE&G has seen the successful nesting of osprey in the New Jersey Meadowlands, where osprey are raising their young on towers and platforms constructed and installed by PSE&G on the banks of the Hackensack River, once regarded as one of America’s top 10 endangered rivers. Osprey are at the top of the marine food chain, indicating that the local water quality is healthy enough to support a growing fish population for the “fish hawk.” The Hackensack Riverkeeper now regards the river as “resource in recovery,” and the existence of two consecutive successful osprey nests demonstrates that the recovery is well underway.
Tokar said students from Bayonne High School and Woodrow Wilson Elementary School built three nests in the fall.
“We will be placing them in the ground sometime at the end of March. Larissa Drennan, Ron, and I are in the process of planning for this event now,” Tokar said.
Last spring, students overseen by Tokar and Drennan successfully planted mussels that students raised as part of their studies on the environment, something – according to D’Argenio – that will be repeated again this year.
“This is a great partnership,” D’Argenio said. “We are very happy to partner with the schools for the benefit of the environment.”