Betty Woodford's Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
Betty Woodford’s Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge,
Crown Jewel of The New Jersey Pine Barrens

Betty Woodford’s Cedar Run Wildlife Receives Gift of Hardwood Floor Refinishing

In Medford, the wildlife refuge is well loved, and the floors showed it too.

Most all Medford area residents have grown up with or been neighbors of Betty Woodford’s Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge. In fact, many regard it as a crown jewel of the Pine Barrens.

Betty Woodford, a botanist adored her beloved Pine Barrens. She devoted her life to protecting and preserving it, and educating the community, nature lovers and others near and far as to the uniqueness, beauty and rarity this amazing So Jersey forest beholds.

Since 1951 it has been a very active support system for the area, through its wildlife rehabilitation, preservation, conservation and education services. As well, their outreach into the community is long served and has reached far places. From its nature trails, lakes, hospital, rehabilitation facilities, to its animal and bird sanctuary, to its pavilions, picnic areas, playground, fire place and gathering centers, this place is “a-buzz” with activity. And right in the middle of everything is the Nature Center and Gift Shop (the hub and where much activity launches and lands).

Once Betty’s son’s home, it now is the Nature Center, which houses the Gift Shop, the Education, Director and Staff Offices. It is also home to some prized birds, “Henry” the albino cardinal, reptiles, and even a stuffed bear (fondly and for this article alone named Buddy Bear) for all to enjoy. It is the center of “the action” at the Wildlife Refuge.

Most start their visit at the Nature Center, a welcoming facility. There they are often greeted by staff. Just inside and a step beyond is a well stocked gift shop. Offices are located left, right and above, with some meeting rooms, and the Trail Head Meeting Area.

The floors had become damaged, which is where we come into the story.

Situated in the Woods, Sand is a Common Denominator, and Tough on Hardwood

All who know the Pine Barrens know it is one big open sandbox! Thousands of years ago New Jersey was one big submerged sand bar. The terrain can be described as one that is flat and sandy with wooded terrain. It is peppered with lakes, rivers, springs, and a serious aqua duct supply of water, known as The Wharton Aquifer. Eventually toward the east the waters run in to marshes and eventually coastal waters and coastal land. With all this wonderful forest area, the one common denominator is—our sand!

Sand and Hardwood Floors Don’t Mix

Finish worn from sand and grit on hardwood floor, Red Oak Floor Scratched Traffic Areas, Sand Exterior Causes Worn Traffic Areas on Hardwood Floor, Scratched & Damaged Hardwood from Sandy Environment
A Sandy environment has taken its toll on the red oak hardwood floor, badly in need of refinishing

Sand is everywhere and the floors showed it. Sand from people’s feet (or paws-lol) wore away the finish and left dark, dirty areas where the raw wood was exposed.

This all started with a call from Michael O’Malley, Executive Director at the refuge

Hoping to find a local hardwood floor refinisher, Michael O’Malley, Executive Director of the refuge came across our company, Sparkle Surface Care, by Classic Services (a Medford based floor and surface care company). He called to ask if we would be willing to donate our services to refinish their floors. We agreed to consider it, and offered to come look at the project.

We invited a colleague and friend, Bryan Livingston of ergflooringservices.com (formerly Premiere Hardwoods), who we commonly contract with on large projects to join us to evaluate the work to be done.

Sparkle Surface Care Bryan got excited at the thought of helping the legendary organization we all grew up with. Without hesitation Bryan piped up, “Sign me up, I’m in!”

Ergonomic Flooring Service Berlin

An appointment was made, and we went there together in early November.

Honestly, before even looking at the project we both thought it was the ideal project, nice and close to home, and one we eagerly wanted to take part in.

The walk thru was as expected—years of “paw prints” had taken their toll.

The hallways and areas near their entry points were hammered. The gift shop looked tired and yellowed. Overall it was worn, dull and tired. The traffic lanes were grayed, darkened, even black where the grain is vulnerable and absorbs moisture, dirt and sand, an unsightly mess!

To restore it would be easy and straightforward, actually a no-brainer. Teaming up, we knew we could knock it out in a weekend.

Worn, damaged hardwood traffic pattern, Sandy Environment wears hardwood finish off
A sandy exterior wears hardwood floor finish off in high traffic areas

But as we were talking aloud and committing to the project, Bryan got very excited. Something else was up his sleeve!

Beyond the impending refinishing project, a priceless gift was about to be shared.

During Bryan’s tender (depends on your perspective-lol!) middle school years at Medford Memorial, he and a buddy interviewed Betty Woodford on video. In it, she guided them all over the wildlife refuge. Turns out this footage was unknown to the refuge, they barely had any pictures of her, so hearing this was a really big deal!

At the time, little did young Bryan and his buddy Jeff know how priceless this interview was to become these some years later. (To date, the footage is being converted!)

Meanwhile, as planning began, the refinishing team hoped to rally some other folks to support the cause.

With the labor taken care of they thought to contact suppliers and get donations to cover the material cost.

We reached out to Vermont Natural Coatings, a perfect fit.

Wendy from Sparkle Surface Care, a long devoted customer of Vermont Natural Coatings, was hopeful they would Vermont Natural Coatings Poly Whey for Cedar Run Wildlife

would kick in. Being all about natural alternatives, Vermont Natural Coatings uses a derivative of whey, a by-product of cheese making avoiding nasty, harmful chemicals in their polyurethane. Wendy felt if they learned about Betty Woodford’s Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, maybe they would support the project. She contacted Andrew Meyer, Founder and President of Vermont Natural Coatings. He embraced our project and was delighted to get involved. For Andrew it was a no-brainer. Being a company whose products are naturally derived from cows and whey, the connection was strong to support the Wildlife Refuge cause.

Meanwhile, Bryan of Ergonomic harnessed help from T & T Flooring.

Paul (PJ), from T & T Flooring, a local hardwood floor supplier was presented with the opportunity to contribute. Over the years PJ had enjoyed the wooded area near Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, and had a keen appreciation of the Pine Barrens as well. Also, as an avid golfer, PJ loved to tee up at nearby at Little Mill Golf Course. Much of the golf course backs right up to the Wildlife Refuge, where no doubt the wildlife is abundant. Deer, geese, maybe even rattlesnakes are indigenous to the area. (Sidebar, growing up Wendy, along with her parents, remembers driving the dirt road to Aero Haven Airport, what Little Mill Golf Course was once part of (or located next to), and came upon a massively huge rattler.  Lover of hot “sugar sand” the rattler was sunning itself on the hot sand. Locals to this day know this area in general is a natural habitat for the feared yet revered rattle snake.)

Paul was happy to donate the abrasives (sandpaper) for the project.

Mid January, with all hands on “the snow deck”, everyone was ready!

For the staff at Cedar Run, January couldn’t have come soon enough! Without knowing, their slow season was the ideal time to refinish the floors. As it turns out it was a crisp, cold windy weekend—perfect hardwood floor refinishing weather (dry so the coats flash off fast and dry in no time.)

Cedar Run had everything cleared out, including the telescope look out area  in the Bird Room where “Henry the Albino Cardinal” calls home. Also removed for safety reasons were the reptiles in the reptile room, and a couple of stuffed friends, including “Buddy Bear”—(any Buffett fans out there)? While not such a safety issue that Buddy Bear be removed, he certainly was in the way! LOL.

The sanding troops arrived, and kicked in for the cause.

Eager to get started, everyone pitched in. The sanding squad, all Medford residents, donated their

Cedar Run Wildlife Sanding Team
Here is the Team who donated hardwood floor refinishing for Cedar Run Wildlife

time as well.  Two guys got on the big sanders (drum sanders) and soon, two more guys started on the edger’s (I think they had their Wheaties)! Add another tech taking on the stair project, and a couple supervisors, we were all whistling while we worked (well, almost).

First on the list- we had to fix a freshly made deep scratch in the floor.

The scratch, but hours old, appeared while moving the gift shop display racks out of the room, to prepare for the refinishing project.

Getting ready, as is the case here, commonly folks scratch the floor. Luckily most get repaired as the finishing process occurs, and aren’t a big deal. But some unfortunately are. In this case the scratch was fixed easily. And to avoid it happening again any time soon, we promised our special after care instructions will help them avoid damaging them moving forward.  To learn a little more about scratches and see how we fixed the scratch as part of the Cedar Run project refer to the following link ⇒ Fixing a scratch.

With about 800 feet to sand, progress was happening quickly. Before long the rough cuts were done. The fine sanding began, and the edging and corners were all detailed. We were almost ready for the seal and coatings to begin. If you’d like to see how the progression of the work went refer to this link ⇒ Case Study Name.

As the project moved along, there remained one area (not in the scope) that would detract from all the hard work done.

It couldn’t be helped. So without request, Team Cedar Run schemed and decided to up’ their game!

It was a given that the hardwood floors were going to look great and enhance the overall appearance at the Nature Center. They look brilliant once more. The inviting, “Pine Barrens” cozy cabin feel was coming back. Starting with the newly refinished hardwood floors, wood paneling, clear story windows, and a magnificent floor to ceiling stone fireplace (made from local bog iron), this haven was once again a “hoot” to hang out in!

Just one problem remained—the kitchen floor!

Cedar Run Wildlife Vintage Kitchen
Vintage Kitchen (prob circa Bill Matthews) has 1970’s tile which team Ergonomic-Sparkle delightedly updated with Luxury Vinyl Plank

The kitchen, opening smack dab into the main room really detracted from all the good work that was done. Bryan hinted he was certain he had some LVP (luxury vinyl plank floor) that would be perfect to cover up the dated look and take the cabin vibe to the next level.

Within a couple hours the Nature Center would be taken out of the dated 70’s and into the year 2021! To see more about this part of the project, see Kitchen Floor Case Study.

No question a welcoming update to complement the other work had been done. Brian (of Cedar Run) was thrilled beyond belief, with each day bringing a new surprise!

A trip hazard remained that needed to be resolved.

Cedar Run staff mentioned that they had a trip hazard problem at the Nature Center entrance. New visitors would arrive and be so taken with the grandeur of the “Great Room,” they neglected to see that there was a step up to continue to the main floor. It was such a problem that Cedar Run had slapped a piece of red tape to draw attention to the step. The trouble was the worn stair nosing and red tape had both become gnarly looking. Soon on it, we took care of that too!

The solution required a unique skill that only gym wood floor specialists could do. Fortunately lettering on a wood floor was something Ergo’s Bryan could do and was happy to roll out. (Learn more about the lettering project.)

Moving along, everything else looked great but the stairs, well… they surely needed some lovin’!

Last on our to-do list (hooray!) was the stair project. Located at the far end of the gift shop and prominently flanking the donated funky wall unit, the stairs—which added to the gift shop’s vibe—needed some TLC. worn hardwood spiral stair treads

At first glance, they were a sorry looking sight. However, they were easy to remove for sanding and coating, and in no time they were put back in and looked as good as new.Refinished Red Oak Spiral Stair Tread

At this point there was little to no evidence that Cedar Run was still living in a sand box!

We, “Team Cedar Run” poured our ‘heart and soul’ into this revitalization, and it shows!

Looking back, this project was executed with Sand Damage Removed Red Oak Floor Refinishedprecision by a competent and professional team. The finest equipment and materials available were used, and a superior finish system was applied, resulting in a “top notch” outcome that one could only expect from a seriously professional wood floor team!

It cannot be stressed enough how important thorough and proper sanding is to the results of any well executed wood floor refinishing job. This is what sets apart “the men from the boys” in the industry. In other words, it is this proper execution that separates  professional craftsmen from the “rif-raf.”

Cedar Run’s Michael had no idea who he was calling ‘on a lark ‘ when he called Sparkle Surface Care. He got more that what he ever dreamed with the restoration and wood refinishing. Team Cedar Run (Sparkle Surface Care with Ergonomic Flooring, along with Vermont Natural Coatings and T & T) more than delivered.  He also had no idea calling us would lead to receiving the priceless gift of Betty on video, sharing her love of her land to two young school boys doing a middle school project.

Not officially calling it a wrap, just kicking things down the road (or dirt path) a bit. Hat’s Off to everyone involved!

A big huge thanks to everyone involved from the bottom up. Cedar Run is “over the moon” thrilled! Together our team, doing what we love to do best, had great satisfaction helping our non beloved profit neighbor. The floors, all fresh and clean, are now smoother and gorgeous once more! Light and bright, crisp and fresh, no longer yellowed or orange, dirty are no longer showing the dreaded signs of sand damage.

Now with measures to manage the foot traffic, proper cleaning, a plan for some assistance ‘down the road’, or dare it be said ‘dirt path’? With some tender care they should perform proudly for years to come! So when you come visit Cedar Run, check out how gorgeous the floors look!

Thinking of having your hardwood floors refinished or replaced? Would you prefer a natural alternative for the finishing process? Is making sure you hire a team who will do a professional job with professional results important to you? (Want to learn the cheap tricks some fool you with, and what to look for to avoid being ripped off, refer below to learn more.  Then, give either of us a call. For Sparkle Surface Care  Call us at 609.953.0472 or contact us online. To reach Ergonomic Flooring  http://6856.846.2065
A Couple PS’
PS- We are rallying even more troops!
We have continued to approach more local companies for the wildlife refuge cause. Some have already signed on to help and donate. Think you might want to get involved? Call Michael O’Malley at Cedar Run or reach out to Wendy at Sparkle at 609.9530472 to find out more on how you can help She will refer you on.
PSS- If you want to learn more about Hardwood Floor Refinishing “Rip-Offs” click here Fixing A Botched Hardwood Floor Refinishing Job. Here you can become empowered about some of the hidden tricks used in the field to cheapen the price. See pictures, evidence and the result of shoddy work traded for innocent dollars nearly exchanged as the Red Flags were going up! This is a telling read about a lesson learned by a friend & client of Sparkle Surface Care, Jack Peters, (luckily we got involved and resolved the problem before Jack lost his money!)
 PSSS- Jack Peters, Licensed Landscape Architect, Owner of Jack of Spades Landscapes is hoping to be one of the generous folks donating to the       Wildlife Refuge for an upcoming project (Spring/Summer 2021)!