Monmouth County Environmental Newsletter: Winter 2024

Freneau Woods
Monmouth County Seal 2018

Monmouth County Environmental Newsletter:  Winter 2024

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American Littoral Society Dunes During construction

Neptune Township Shark River Living Shoreline. Source: American Littoral Society

Monmouth County Recognizes Environmental Projects with Planning Merit Awards

Each year the Monmouth County Planning Board presents Planning Merit Awards to organizations that demonstrate outstanding examples of planning. In December 2023, the Monmouth County Planning Board distributed a total of seven awards. Three organizations were recognized for innovative projects focused on the environment, resiliency, and sustainability. The Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County received an award for transforming a donated parcel of vacant land across from the Asbury Park branch into a "Wellness Garden."  Next, Neptune Township received an award for installing a 2,050 foot living shoreline along Shark River creating habitat for wildlife and a more resilient shoreline for residents. Finally, the Sea Girt Conservancy received an honorable mention for removing invasive species and planting a pollinator garden in Edgemere Park in Sea Girt. Learn more about the Planning Merit Award winners here. Nominations for Planning Merit Awards are welcome all year, email for more information.

Upcoming Environmental & Outdoor Events in Monmouth County:

Barn Owl Nesting Boxes Coming to Monmouth County Parks

Joshua J. Cotten

Source: Josh J. Cotten on Unsplash

Conserve Wildlife New Jersey received a grant for the Monmouth Audubon Society to build, install, and monitor barn owl nesting boxes at Monmouth County parks and state parks. With success, the nesting boxes may help increase the local barn owl population as well as the regional population once fledgings leave to establish their own habitat.  Read more about the project here.

Two boxes will be installed in county parks. One is planned for the wetlands in front of Bayshore Waterfront Park and one will be placed in the back fields of Big Brook Park.  Conserve Wildlife Foundation is making an effort to install nesting boxes  in marshes or conserved farmland/grassland where available. While historically barn owls have preferred open grassland and farmland, the habitat is now less prevalent and barn owls have started using wetlands. 

The Park System is providing the roosting and nesting habitat in the hopes of attracting barn owls into our local parks and boosting their populations on the east coast. 

Contributed by Paul Mandala, Naturalist, Monmouth County Park System

Monmouth County Division of Planning Holds Resilience Workshop

Last summer, the Monmouth County Division of Planning hosted a Climate/Flood Resilience Workshop. Professionals involved in floodplain and resilience issues throughout the county, from federal and state agencies, nonprofits, and staff from all 53 Monmouth County municipalities were invited to participate. The meeting allowed attendees to learn about climate and flood resilience projects around the county and to share insights into their own projects and experiences.  Attendees discussed potential projects and partnerships, funding opportunities, ideas, insights, advice, and other news from their organizations. 

Ultimately, Monmouth County brought stakeholders together to improve coordination on existing or planned resilience projects such as studies as well as green and gray infrastructure installation. The Division of Planning created an online collection application to gather and share information on the region's resilience projects. Click to access the Climate Change/Flood Resilience Initiatives in Monmouth County  WebMap. To suggest a project to be added to the map please contact

Monmouth County Welcomes New AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador

NJWAP logo

This fall the Monmouth County Division of Planning welcomed the 2023-2024 AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador, Charlene Kiley. AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors monitor local waterways; provide watershed-related programs to schools, municipalities, and community groups; and organize projects such as rain barrel workshops, cleanups, and watershed restoration activities.  Charlene grew up in Monmouth County and attended Red Bank Catholic High School. Following college she spent 22 years in California and recently returned home.  She retired as a managing director of a real estate private equity firm and decided to pursue her lifelong passion for the environment.  Charlene lives in Colts Neck with her family and dog, Casey.

Certified Wildlife Habitat

Make a Resolution to Bring Butterflies, Birds and Bees to Your Backyard 

One of the pleasures of living in Monmouth County is the variety of wildlife we can observe in our backyards. Even in the winter you can plan to incorporate native plants into your yard to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife in the spring. Did you know, for example, that monarch butterfly caterpillars can only eat native milkweed plants? Milkweed and other native plants for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, etc. are available at local nurseries and online, for example, from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Yards that provide food, water, shelter and places to raise young can be registered as a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat. Then NWF will issues certificates for certified wildlife habitats and offers a variety of yard signs to share with the neighborhood with a donation fee.

Contributed by John Vig, Member, Monmouth County Environmental Council

Climate change summary for teachers

NJDEP Releases Climate Change Guidance Document for New Jersey Educators

NJDEP's new  Summary of Climate Change in New Jersey for Teachers presents information from the state’s Scientific Report on Climate Change to help New Jersey teachers understand and incorporate climate science into their lessons. NJDEP offers other resources on its Climate Change Education webpage.

Winter Activities at Monmouth County Parks 

Holmdel Park Sled Hill

In 2023 we saw very little snow. In the case of snow in 2024, come enjoy some winter activities at Monmouth County parks. Visit the Thompson Park Ski Hut to rent cross-country ski and snow shoe equipment, or visit Holmdel Park for sledding.  If there is a long spell of subfreezing temperatures, visitors may even have the chance to ice skate at Holmdel, Shark River and Turkey Swamp parks.