Below is a letter that deserves our attention and respect -

 

From: Rancocas Nature Center, Education [mailto:education@rancocasnaturecenter.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 9:41 PM
To: LynnLandes@gmail.com
Subject: Problems with foraging in our park.

 

I know you have more than once brought groups to our park to teach them about foraging for wild plants. It is great to see people appreciating nature's gifts. I know you have run into some of our staff. We do not know who is creating the issue we are having, but we are having trouble with people harvesting our wild plants, berries, seeds and foraging our edible mushrooms, etc. It has become really bad post pandemic and especially over the past six months. Could you please help get it out there that there is  absolutely no collecting or foraging allowed in the Rancocas State Park, or any state park in NJ. It does not appear people are following any code of ethics in regard to harvesting. 

 

We would prefer if foraging groups not bring groups to our park, especially if they are profiting from it. Any group wishing to use our park for educational purposes, should be arranging it through us. We are a non-profit educational facility that has been on this site in the state park for over 40 years and this has only more recently become a huge problem. We have been seeing mushrooms disappearing just days after we see them emerge, cut right off. How do we teach kids about mushrooms if they disappear as fast as they emerge? Removing mushrooms removes the spores, creating less mushrooms over time. One or two here or there might not make a huge impact, but that is not what is happening here. Too many people now think this is their personal foraging/harvesting spot. Our native plant fruits and seed are even more urgent to stay here. We are already competing with deer eating our plants. The food we have here is for the wildlife that lives here and to sustain our habitats.

 

We have been told of people walking out with huge baskets or bags af seeds plants, etc. In fact an incident happened Sunday, the day after your group was here. We have a leasehold for this portion of the park. Yet people are coming and taking things from our ecosystems that cannot be replaced; with little regard for the role they play here in the park. I know your group is probably not the only meet-up or group to be be highlighting our property, but I am sure you can help us get the word out. Our park is being over loved and quite frankly abused right now. Help! We have been guardians of this park for a long time and it is heartbreaking to us to see this happening.

--

Mary Belko 

Rancocas Nature Center

794 Rancocas Road

Westampton, NJ 08060

Phone: 609-261-2495

education@rancocasnaturecenter.org

rancocasnaturecenter.org