Early Friday morning, on Groundhog Day, Watershed Wally the Woodchuck ventured out of his burrow to make his prediction on winter’s duration. As New Jersey’s only wooly weather forecaster, Wally hesitantly inched forward as a gentle snow drifted down from the skies. He was greeted by a crowd who came to the Watershed to celebrate this annual rite of spring.
After slowly turning in a circle and spotting his shadow, Wally dashed back into his shelter. Given the legend, this means Wally predicts six more weeks of winter instead of an early spring. Unlike his Pennsylvania brethren, Wally has the Watershed’s amazing resources at his disposal, including live information from a wide array of weather parameters from njweather.org/station/3526 on the Watershed Reserve.
Coaxed by the chants of “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck?” Wally later re-emerged from his hiding spot and took up the crowd’s challenge. Using a trebuchet, he flung several blocks of wood far into the field, proving that a woodchuck can chuck wood.
Wally’s forecast follows his adventures on Saturday (Jan.27) when about 70 visitors came to the Watershed to explore the life and habitat of woodchucks with a nature hike and other activities. Scores of people used both a catapult and a trebuchet to toss wooden blocks in a target game, roasted marshmallow’s around a campfire and danced with Wally.
Groundhogs, a term used interchangeably with woodchucks, are formally named Marmota monax. They’re also known colloquially as whistle-pigs and land beavers.
The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is dedicated to keeping Central New Jersey’s water clean, safe and healthy. Founded in 1949, the Watershed Association protects and restores water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education. For more information about the Watershed, www.thewatershed.org or call (609) 737-3735. Interviews with Executive Director, Jim Waltman, are available upon request. Contact Pam Podger, Marketing Manager, at (609) 737-3735 x19 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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