One of our core values at Pine Island Cranberry has always been protecting the environment; we care for the place where we live, work, and grow. To this end, Pine Island Cranberry, working with certified New Jersey forester Bob Williams, created a forest stewardship plan in 2001. After some revision, the state approved it in 2005. While Pine Island had always informally practiced good stewardship, creating a specific plan helps us to protect and improve the forest resources by allowing forest practices to be implemented on the ground while maintaining a thriving forest ecosystem through prescribed burning, road maintenance, and boundary surveying.
Our top priority when implementing the forestry plan is water quality protection; as always, any and all activity must be done in a manner that ensures the protection of our surface and ground water resources, including streamside and wetland buffer protection measures. Wildfire protection and management is also an ongoing concern; Pine Island has worked very closely with Bob in order to make sure that we are complying with regulations making sure that any thinning occurs in a manner that keeps the local wildlife safe. The key is prescribed burning, which Pine Island uses to help prevent wildfires, as well as keep the forest watershed healthy. Reducing overgrowth also allows more nutrients, sunlight, and water to go to the pine trees, while promoting the growth of natural weeds and grasses that benefit the wildlife.
Good forest management practices also indirectly benefit our cranberry harvest. “Thinning the forest helps keep the bees from being diverted in the spring,” PIICM manager Cristina Tassone explains. “This way, the bees stay on the bogs when the vines are in bloom.” Forestry also helps us implement our ICM program more efficiently by reducing the number of team members needed for weed control, especially for removal of red maple.
As a result of our careful attention and years of effort, Pine Island Cranberry was named New Jersey’s outstanding forest steward of 2011 by the state Department of Environmental Protection for our management of the woodlands on the Wading and Oswego rivers. When asked why he considered forestry management as one of his top priorities, Bill says: “When you’re responsible for a resource, it’s your duty to take care of it for the next generation.” Bob Williams adds, “You can’t have great cranberries without great watershed forests.”
With the launch of this new subsection, we look forward to telling you more about our work with great people like Colin and Deborah McLaughlin of Advanced Forestry Solutions, John Parke of NJ Audubon, and Shawn Judy and Sammy Moore of the NJ Forest Fire Service, who help us not only with improving our operation, but our community.