Friday, February 11, 2011

Thick as a Brick

By Graig Mihok

For those who do not know about the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in central New Jersey, there is a story to be told. Many years ago the New York and New Jersey Port Authority wanted to build an airport in the area where the Great Swamp now lies. It seems they had no problem bulldozing or paving other areas to place airports, seaports, and tunnels so they were not concerned with any opposition to the building of these structures.

Then came Port Authority’s headache with the Great Swamp. It has served as an important migratory bird sanctuary in the northeast for quite some time now. In human years, let’s just say a lot. In bird years, let’s say a whole lot more. A grassroots campaign sprang up among the swamp's locals and escalated into a state-wide effort that turned the Great Swamp into a national wildlife refuge.

It is considered to be one of the greatest grassroots success stories out of the state of New Jersey. But you have to wonder what would have happened to the migratory patterns of the northeast's birds if that swamp was cleared, paved, and an airport was actually laid down. New Jersey is already a crowded little state that forces a great deal of its wildlife to scatter into the shrinking woodlands between its sprawling suburbs, massive highway systems, and endless smoking industrial plants. Is it not within the comprehension of Port Authority, as well as some state and government officials, to consider the consequence of destroying a vital habitat for an animal species that has a direct impact on the ecosystem that we live in?

You would have to be pretty thick to not consider the danger of altering an ecosystem of such a large area. As thick as, say, a brick. At the Friends of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge website there is a fundraiser going on that allows for you to have a personalized engraving in a brick at the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center. Your brick could be engraved with a favorite quote, a tribute to a loved one, or something in your own words.

There are three different types to choose from: a 4x8 inch brick with three lines of text for $150; an 8x8 inch brick with up to six lines of text for $300; and an 8x8 inch brick with an engraved blue goose with up to four lines of text for $350. The engravings are done with a laser to burn the brick with your desired message and blue goose if you're willing to shell out the extra money. Seems pricey, but it's for a good purpose.

I think there are a few Port Authority officials, if they're still around, who would probably pass on this kind and generous offer to help preserve the Great Swamp. Ironically, it would appear they hit a brick a long time ago when this all started.

You can visit the website here: Friends of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

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