Trees Killed on Conserved Land on Osborn Island

May 31, 2017
Supplied Photo Brown and dead trees on the marsh across the lagoon from Ocean Boulevard on Osborn Island.

Osborn Island resident Riki Losiewicz has been a staunch supporter of the natural world. She was instrumental in organizing and pushing for Little Egg Harbor Township to preserve over 40 acres of maritime forest in the center of the island, an important rookery for endangered crowned night herons and other shore birds. She heard of the plight of honeybees and obtained permission to set up pesticide-free zones on the island for honeybee hives that she maintains.

Recently, with the help of her long-time neighbors, people who survived the onslaught of Superstorm Sandy with her and all that entailed, she set up a birdhouse trail. Most of her neighbors understand the importance of keeping the island true to its natural beauty, she said, but a newly arrived neighbor apparently has taken it upon himself to improve his view of the bay by destroying pine and cedar trees on land that is owned by the New Jersey Land Preserve, she said.

Losiewicz contacted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and a wildlife enforcement officer investigated and explained to the man that it was against the law to remove the trees.

“But then two weeks later we watched the same neighbor go out on the marsh with a bag he said was to pick up trash, and soon after, the cedar trees started dying,” she said. “Myself and one of my neighbors went out and saw holes drilled in the trees, and a tree on his property also had holes drilled in it and was poisoned.”

The whole incident has made Losiewicz angry and saddened.

“Children swim in that lagoon and like to kayak to the cedar island to play pirate. I’m afraid for them if there is poison.

“I’ve been living here almost 20 years, and a neighbor, Vicki Monroe, used to say, ‘Look at this, we are living in a postcard,’ and I agree. The children living here understand that creatures use the land and the importance of maintaining the health of the land.”

Also important is the root system of the marshland trees that survives frequent flooding and holds the marsh together.

“When the storm surge from Sandy came across the bay, it hit those trees first and then our houses,” said Losiewicz. “I had water in my sunroom, but it didn’t get into the main house. Without that barrier I don’t think the house would have survived.”

During Sandy in October 2012, houses on nearby Iowa Court, a street that was nearer to the bay and had no trees or marsh to weaken the force of the storm surge, were badly damaged. The marsh in front of Iowa Court is one of the areas that is to be bolstered with a living shoreline.

Losiewicz again notified the DEP and is waiting for a response.

— Pat Johnson

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