Controlled Burn

Professor of environmental science at Stockton University, George Zimmermann, prepares for the controlled burn in the forest across campus for forest management on Wednesday around noon. Wednesday November 23, 2016. (Viviana Pernot / Staff Photographer)

VIVIANA PERNOT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Stockton University Professor of Environmental Studies George Zimmermann won a Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award Wednesday for his advocacy of the school’s forest management plan.

The forest plan was approved by the Pinelands Commission in 2013 and is the first comprehensive forest management plan for public land within the Pinelands, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

It uses the thinning and controlled burning of the forest to create diverse habitats for the benefit of animals and plants; keeps the fuel load of the forest low to prevent out-of-control wildfires; and allows students to use the forest as a living laboratory, Zimmermann has said.

Zimmermann’s award was in the Healthy Ecosystems category.

“It takes more than one person to do all this — the administration, the students who have been working tirelessly, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection, the Forest Fire Service which has given us a grant, and recently Fish and Wildlife gave us money to put in fences to keep deer out of some areas,” said Zimmermann. “That’s just part of a series of experiments we’re doing. There are a lot of people for whom I am really accepting this award.”

Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said Zimmermann, an expert on the Atlantic white cedar, has been a statewide advocate of healthy ecosystems and ecological forest management for over 30 years.

Zimmermann was among 12 honorees at the 17th Annual Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony at the New Jersey States Museum in Trenton.

Stockton and Zimmermann have hosted a number of groups, including the USDA Forest Service’s North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange, the Pinelands Short Course sponsored by the Pinelands Commission, and numerous talks and conference presentations on the forest management plan and its forestry initiatives, according to the university.

Other honorees recognized Wednesday included Delran Township Public Schools in Gloucester County, for an Energy Savings Improvement Plan expected to reduce energy costs by 32 percent, cut emissions in half, produce 80 percent of the district’s electric needs through on-site solar and save taxpayers $5.6 million over the next 15 years.

For more information, visit nj.gov/dep/eeawards.

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In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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