Mikie Sherrill and the Ballad of the Jockey Hollow Apple Orchard

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP – Mikie Sherrill told a story Thursday about plans to commemorate the nation’s 250th anniversary in two years.

The CD-11 congresswoman spoke of plans at Jockey Hollow, which is part of Morristown National Historical Park, to plant the same vegetation that was on the site during Washington’s encampment in 1779-80.

Times have changed since then.

Sherrill said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate an apple orchard of the Revolutionary War era because of climate change.

This was more than a nice story.

Sherrill and other officials held a press conference at the Great Swamp Outdoor Recreation Center to hype federal legislation to promote and prioritize, when possible, the development of native plants.

As of now, there are no federal statutes requiring the incorporation of native plants in federal building or landscaping projects.

Supporters of the bill say plans native to a region are crucial to the food supply and more importantly, retain stormwater that otherwise could flood nearby neighborhoods.

That’s crucial. Sherrill said that her district, which includes parts of Morris, Passaic and Essex counties, is the most flood prone in the state,

Moreover, the congresswoman said that native plants by definition are “native” to the region, and as such, regular watering and other landscaping and maintenance is not required.

“It’s so simple,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, the state director of the Sierra Club.

Also on hand was Shawn LaTourette, the state DEP commissioner. He said:

“When we engineer with nature, it’s more sustainable. It’s cheaper. It’s lasting.”

Polarization in Washington makes it difficult to get just about anything done. Sherrill, however, was hopeful, noting that this bill – the Building Native Habitats with Federal Projects Act – has Democratic and Republican sponsors in both the House and Senate.

Bipartisanship was on display at the event. Morris County commissioner John Krickus, a Republican, was in the audience.

DEP Commissioner LaTourette was optimistic:

“It’s not red or blue, it’s all green if you do it right,” he said.

Before the native plant event, Sherrill was at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison to highlight two other bills to connect former service members with in-demand career opportunities. Sherrill is a Navy veteran.

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