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Nestled within the New Jersey townships of Hamilton, Robbinsville, and West Windsor lies Miry Run Dam Site 21—an expansive 279-acre parcel with a rich history dating back to its acquisition by Mercer County in the late 1970s. Originally earmarked for flood mitigation and recreation, this hidden gem is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation, poised to unveil its true potential as a thriving public park.

Central to the revitalization efforts is a comprehensive Master Plan, meticulously crafted by Mercer County Park Commission in partnership with Simone Collins Landscape Architecture and Princeton Hydro. This visionary roadmap encompasses a spectrum of engineering and ecological uplift initiatives, including:

  • Several types of trails and boardwalks that total approximately 7 miles, including a tree canopy walk-through over an area of vernal pools;
  • A nature-based playground and an ADA inclusive playground;
  • Kayak launch and water trail;
  • Protected swimming area for a limited number of swimmers each day;
  • A native plant arboretum and horticultural garden;
  • Fishing access areas;
  • Parking lots, driveways, small restrooms and pavilions; and
  • A group camping area that would accommodate about 30-40 campers.

The Master Plan serves as a long-term vision for improvements to the property and will be implemented over multiple phases. In 2021, it was recognized with the Landscape Architectural Chapter Award from the New Jersey Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects, which underscores its innovative and impactful approach to landscape design.


Phase One is Underway

Now, Dam Site 21’s revitalization has begun with a crucial endeavor: the dredging of its 50-acre lake. This process, spearheaded by Mercer County Park Commission in collaboration with Princeton Hydro, aims to rejuvenate the water body by removing accumulated debris, sediment, and invasive vegetation—a vital step towards restoring its ecological balance. Beyond the aesthetic and ecological improvements, dredging enhances accessibility for recreational activities that provide an opportunity to create a deeper connection between the park’s visitors and its beautiful natural landscape.

Based on the bathymetric assessment, which the Princeton Hydro team completed as part of the Master Plan, the dredging efforts are focused on three primary areas: Area 1 is located in the main body of the lake just downstream of Line Road and will generate approximately 34,000 cubic yards of dredged material; Area 2, which has approximately 4,900 cubic yards of accumulated sediment is located in the northeast cove, just north of Area 1; and Area 3, the northwestern cove, entails the removal of approximately 7,300 cubic yards of accumulated sediment.

This video, taken on February 27, provides an aerial view of the project site and the dredging in progress: [embed]https://youtu.be/F7t39mD1Rq8?si=6pnAarnT2RomS0s6[/embed]

Before the dredging work could begin, the Princeton Hydro team was responsible for providing a sediment sampling plan, sample collection and laboratory analysis, engineering design plan, preparation and submission of all NJDEP regulatory permitting materials, preparation of the technical specifications, and bid administration. Currently, our team is providing construction administration and oversight for the project.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" size="medium" ids="14730,14726"] [caption id="attachment_14729" align="aligncenter" width="1227"] March 19 2024 - The dredging work begins[/caption]

From Planning to Implementation and Beyond

The journey towards Dam Site 21's revival has been marked by meticulous planning, design, and community engagement spanning several years. With the commencement of dredging operations, the project's vision is gradually materializing—a testament to the dedication of all stakeholders involved. As the first phase unfolds, anticipation mounts for the realization of a vibrant, inclusive public space that honors both nature and community.

[caption id="attachment_14713" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Drone image of the Miry Run Dam Site 21 Project (Feb 27 2024)[/caption] [gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="14735,14734,14736"]

As Dam Site 21 undergoes its metamorphosis, it symbolizes not just a physical restoration, but a renewal of collective vision and commitment. Ultimately, Dam Site 21 isn't just a park—it's a testament to the enduring legacy of conservation, community, and the transformative power of restoration.

The significance of Dam Site 21's transformation extends far beyond its recreational appeal. It embodies a commitment to environmental stewardship, with measures aimed at bolstering flood resilience, improving water quality, and nurturing diverse wildlife habitats. By blending conservation with recreation, the project strikes an important balance between creating access for community members to enjoy the space and ecological preservation that puts native plants,  critical habitat, and wildlife at the forefront.


To learn more about the restoration initiative and view the Final Master Plan, visit the Mercer County Park Commission’s website. Click here to learn about another one of Princeton Hydro’s recent restoration efforts. And, stay tuned here for more Mercer County Park Commission project updates!

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In recognition of World Water Day on March 22, it's important to acknowledge and explore the challenges affecting our freshwater ecosystems. In this blog post, we explore one of those said challenges: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

HABs, characterized by rapid overgrowths of cyanobacteria, have increasingly drawn attention due to their detrimental effects on water quality and aquatic ecosystems. With the onset of spring, rising temperatures create favorable conditions for cyanobacteria growth, setting the stage for potential bloom occurrences in the months ahead. Over recent summers, lakes and freshwater bodies across the nation have faced closures and health advisories due to HAB outbreaks, underscoring the urgent need to address this issue.

Cyanobacteria, often referred to as blue-green algae, are naturally occurring microorganisms in aquatic environments. However, under specific conditions—such as warm temperatures and nutrient-rich waters—these organisms can proliferate rapidly, forming blooms that pose risks to the health of humans, wildlife and aquatic species, local economies and overall ecological balance.

[gallery link="none" ids="11577,11570,11565"]

The interplay between climate change and HABs is undeniable: Rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns create favorable conditions for cyanobacteria growth, exacerbating bloom occurrences. The absence of snow cover and early ice melt further accelerates this process, allowing cyanobacteria to flourish earlier in the year. Over the past few summers, lakes and fresh-waterbodies across the nation experienced closures and health advisories as a result of HAB outbreaks, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.

In light of these challenges, proactive measures are crucial for mitigating the impacts of HABs. Early sampling efforts, initiated as early as March or April, enable the detection of cyanobacteria and akinetes, dormant spores that contribute to bloom formation. Additionally, reducing nutrient inputs, particularly phosphorus, into waterways is essential for preventing HABs.

As we reflect on the significance of water resources on World Water Day, it’s imperative to recognize the importance of addressing threats such as HABs. By raising awareness, fostering collaboration, and implementing effective strategies, we can work towards safeguarding the health and sustainability of our freshwater ecosystems.

In this spirit, we invite you to join the conversation at the Harmful Algal Bloom Summit 2024, hosted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This virtual seminar, taking place on March 27, is free to attend and offers a platform for stakeholders to exchange insights, discuss best practices, and explore innovative solutions for managing HABs.

This year's Summit, which is titled “Unlocking the Puzzle of Harmful Algal Blooms," includes a keynote address and three educational sessions - "Growth Through Reflection: Lessons Learned," "Innovative Tools and Applications," and "Beyond the Numbers" - each featuring a variety of expert presentations. Princeton Hydro Senior Technical Director of Ecological Services Dr. Fred Lubnow is presenting on "Quantifying Overwintering Cyanobacteria and How They May Impact the Monitoring and Management of HABs."

Get more information and register here.


As we commemorate World Water Day 2024, let us reflect on the interconnectedness of water and life. Small actions taken today can have a profound impact on preserving water quality for future generations. Join us in making a commitment to promote and do our part to support a sustainable future for our freshwater ecosystems.

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We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to our fleet: The Marsh Master® 2MX-KC-FH! This multi-functional, eco-friendly, and fully amphibious machine is specifically designed to work in wetland environments with minimal disruption to the delicate ecosystem.

[embed]https://youtu.be/XNlAAWp2T7M[/embed]

One of the Marsh Master®'s primary roles is combating invasive and nuisance plant species, including the notorious non-native Phragmites australis, also known as Common Reed. Utilizing its innovative leveling and cutting mechanisms, this powerhouse of a machine efficiently knocks down and chops up sprayed or winter-weakened vegetation. Equipped with two powerful rotary blades, it effortlessly cuts through dense underbrush and tall marsh grasses, effectively controlling invasive weeds and problematic plant growth.

"We are committed to offering more non-chemical alternatives for aquatic invasive species control. The Marsh Master® 2MX-KC-FH is the second marsh buggy in our fleet," said Geoffrey M. Goll, President of Princeton Hydro. "This model is larger and more powerful, allowing us to cover more ground in a shorter period of time. Adding this machine to our fleet is an important investment in achieving our firm's environmental stewardship goals."

What sets the Marsh Master® apart is its versatility and low environmental impact. With its lightweight construction and advanced weight distribution system, it exerts low ground pressure and boasts high floating capacity. This allows the Marsh Master® to operate seamlessly on water, in deep or shallow depths, and on dry land without disturbing sensitive environments like nature preserves, wetlands, and canal banks. Its highly maneuverable design ensures easy passage through narrow channels and around hazards, making it the ideal choice for a wide range of applications.

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="14525,14523"]

But the Marsh Master® is not just a one-trick pony. With a wide array of tools and accessories, it can perform a variety of functions, from weed cutting and harvesting to debris removal to excavation to soil sampling.

During a recent project in Middlesex County, we put the Marsh Master® to the test to clear an area overrun with Phragmites australis. These invasive weeds not only create dense thickets unsuitable for native fauna but also outcompete local vegetation, leading to a decrease in plant diversity. Thanks to the Marsh Master®'s efficient cutting and rolling capabilities, we were able to expose the marsh plain and get it ready for planting of native vegetation in the Spring. This is just one example of how the Marsh Master is making a tangible difference in restoring delicate ecosystems.

[gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="14501,14471,14499"]

Through a combination of prevention, early detection, eradication, restoration, research and outreach, we can protect our native landscapes and reduce the spread of invasive species. Learn more about our invasive species removal and restoration services.

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In Warrington Township, Pennsylvania, an innovative ecological uplift initiative is underway at Lion's Pride Park. This project aims to transform a stagnant pond, overrun with invasive species and plagued by water quality issues, into a thriving wetland mosaic. This endeavor, a collaborative effort between Warrington Township, Princeton Hydro, and other stakeholders, promises to not only revitalize the natural environment but also enhance community access and education within the park.

[caption id="attachment_14494" align="aligncenter" width="802"] Historical photo of Lion's Pride Park pond in Warrington Township, PA.[/caption]

Restoration Overview and Community Impact

Spanning 47 acres, Lion's Pride Park serves as a green oasis within the Township, offering a range of recreational and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities.

The pond within the park was in urgent need of restoration - heavy storm events caused the pond to overflow, which created flooding conditions in the park. The local native biodiversity was being threatened by nusiance and invasive species like water chestnut (Trapa natans). The photos below were taken in April 2020.

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="14485,14486"]  

Princeton Hydro began in 2020 with site investigation and field surveys, including:

  1. Bathymetric assessment to map water depth and accumulated unconsolidated sediment in the pond
  2. Sediment sampling to facilitate options for the potential reuse of the sediment on site and the selection of native vegetation for the various habitats being created
  3. Wetland delineation to identify existing wetland boundaries within and adjacent to the project site and discern the extent of jurisdictional impacts related to the proposed activities.

The most substantial component for the restoration project was the conversion of the existing pond to an emergent wetland complex to provide habitat for a wide variety of native species. Using the completed existing conditions reports and surveys, Princeton Hydro prepared the conceptual design plan that informed the entire restoration process.

Princeton Hydro Regulatory Compliance & Wildlife Surveys Project Manager Emily Bjorhus, PWS spearheaded the regulatory program for the project, navigating approvals from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Bucks County Conservation District. The permitting process laid the groundwork for the smooth implementation of this design-build restoration project.

[gallery link="none" columns="2" size="medium" ids="14253,14244"] [caption id="attachment_14493" align="aligncenter" width="1227"] October 2023[/caption]  

The restoration work encompassed various stages, from earthwork and vegetation planting to the installation of ADA-compliant pathways and informational signage. Some of the key project elements, include:

Channel stabilization: Stabilizing the channels within the park, addressing erosion issues, enhancing water flow dynamics, and promoting the establishment of diverse aquatic habitats.

Berm construction: Installing berms to enhance wetland habitat and promote natural floodplain connectivity, contributing to the resilience of the ecosystem to flooding events.

Native vegetation planting: Reintroducing native wetland and riparian plant species to enhance biodiversity and create habitat corridors for wildlife within the park. Planting is expected to take place in the Spring.

Interpretive signage installation: Placing educational signage throughout the park to inform visitors about the ecological significance of the restoration project and the importance of wetland conservation.

Boardwalk installation: Constructing a 6-foot-wide ADA-compliant boardwalk that spanned approximately 230 linear feet, providing visitors with accessible pathways to explore the restored wetland areas.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" size="medium" ids="14491,14490,14492,14487"]

Through these strategic interventions, the Lion's Pride Park Ecological Restoration Project aims to not only rejuvenate the ecological integrity of landscape but also enrich the recreational and educational experiences of the community. The project, which is slated for 100% completion this Spring, will totally transform the landscape into a diverse wetland complex that fosters native wildlife habitat, mitigates water quality concerns, reduces nonpoint source pollutants discharged to downstream waters, and provides accessible pathways and observation platforms so all community members may enjoy and learn from this restored aquatic setting.

The reclaimed wetland provides additional bird and pollinator habitat and offer visitors a diverse ecosystem to learn from within the park. By fostering a deeper connection to nature and promoting environmental stewardship, this project exemplifies the transformative power of ecological restoration in creating vibrant, sustainable communities.


Upcoming Presentation

[caption id="attachment_13487" align="alignleft" width="247"] Emily out field performing a wetland delineation.[/caption]

On March 23, at the 2024 Watershed Congress hosted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Emily will be presenting about the Lion's Pride Park Ecological Restoration Project. Her presentation will offer insights into the regulatory approval and permitting process, takes a deeper dive into the restoration strategies, and showcases the ecological significance of the project. Click here to learn more about the 2024 Watershed Congress.

Emily, a certified Professional Wetland Scientist, is a Project Manager that specializes in environmental regulatory compliance, ecological services and wildlife surveys. She leads federal, state and local environmental permitting processes, NEPA compliance and documentation, Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultations, and Clean Water Act Section 404(b)1 analyses.


The Lion's Pride Park Ecological Restoration Project exemplifies a holistic approach to environmental conservation, community engagement, and public recreation. By repurposing a neglected pond into a vibrant wetland mosaic, this initiative embodies the principles of ecological resilience and inclusive urban planning, and celebrates the transformative potential of ecological uplift projects in fostering healthier, more vibrant communities.

Please stay tuned to our blog for more project updates once planting is completed this Spring. Click here to read more about Princeton Hydro’s robust natural resource management and restoration services.

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Mark Gallagher, Vice President of Princeton Hydro, has been appointed to the Friends of Abbott Marshland Advisory Board.


About the Friends of Abbott Marshland

The Abbott Marshlands is composed of 3,000 acres of wetlands and uplands located on the western edge of central New Jersey in Mercer County. It is the northernmost freshwater tidal marsh on the Delaware River and contains valuable habitat for many rare species like River Otter, American Eel, Bald Eagle, and various species of wading birds.

[caption id="attachment_14051" align="aligncenter" width="743"] Aerial drone imagery taken in late summer of 2019 above Roebling Park in Abbott Marshlands.[/caption]  

Unfortunately, this ecosystem has faced challenges partially due to the invasion of the aggressive Common Reed (Phragmites australis), causing substantial habitat loss and degradation. In response to these challenges, the Friends for the Abbott Marshlands have dedicated themselves to enhancing appreciation and protection of this precious ecosystem. Their mission focuses on engaging and inspiring a diverse community to experience the unique nature and history of the Abbott Marshlands. Their priorities involve expanding community involvement, advancing educational programs through the Tulpehaking Nature Center, enhancing organizational capacity, and working in cooperative stewardship efforts.

Since its inception, the Friends for the Abbott Marshlands have played a pivotal role in advocating for the preservation and stewardship of the marshlands. They've organized various educational programs, symposia, nature walks, and juried photography shows to raise awareness and encourage stewardship of this unique ecosystem. The Friends for the Abbott Marshlands Advisory Board meets periodically to advise on program design and execution, fundraising, and engagement in any and all activities related to the preservation of the Abbott Marshlands.

The area is named "Abbott Marshlands" in recognition of the important archaeological legacy of the marsh and of Charles Conrad Abbott, a 19th and early 20th century archaeologist and naturalist, who lived on the bluffs near the marsh and who wrote extensively about it.


Princeton Hydro's Work at Abbott Marshlands

Recognizing the urgent need to restore the Abbott Marshlands, Mercer County contracted Princeton Hydro to spearhead a multi-year, multi-phased restoration initiative. The project aimed at reducing and controlling the invasive Phragmites australis while increasing the presence of native marsh vegetation.

Princeton Hydro conducted a Floristic Quality Assessment to identify invasive areas and to establish a baseline for the restoration efforts. The team also performed hydrologic monitoring to understand tidal stage elevations. From 2018-2019, herbicide treatments were consistently conducted to combat the invasive phragmites. In the winter of 2019-2020, 46 acres of phragmites was cut and rolled with our Marsh Master using a modified steel roller attachment. The phragmites was then removed by raking, which in turn exposed the marsh plain’s substrate and seedbank to promote germination of the native marsh vegetation. Extensive areas of wild rice, mud plantain, broad leaved cattail, water purslane, pickerelweed, and arrow arum colonized the areas formerly overtaken by phragmites within the first growing season after the marsh plain was exposed. The project also includes the creation of 500 linear feet of living shoreline, a freshwater mussel bed, and a sustainable boat launch.

[gallery link="none" columns="4" ids="14049,7137,14058,14055"] [caption id="attachment_14053" align="aligncenter" width="749"] Drone imagery from Winter 2020 after herbicide treatment and rolling and cutting of Phragmites at Roebling Park.[/caption]

This comprehensive and collaborative restoration effort not only targets invasive species but also focused on enhancing biodiversity; improving recreational opportunities such as kayaking and bird watching; enhancing the overall visitor experience at John A. Roebling Memorial Park, which is part of Abbott Marshlands; and creating opportunities for community engagement and appreciation of this natural treasure.


Learn More

Click here to learn how you can get involved with supporting and participating in initiatives aimed at protecting and cherishing the Marshlands for generations to come. To take a deeper dive into Princeton Hydro's work at Abbott Marshlands, click here.

A founding partner of Princeton Hydro, Mark is a pioneer in the field of restoration ecology, and helped get the conservation science movement off the ground in the 1980s. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Moravian College and Master of Science in Plant Ecology from Rutgers University. For more than two decades, Mark has overseen wetland and terrestrial ecology projects at Princeton Hydro, including many complex restoration projects that require unique solutions.

Mark, along with Princeton Hydro team members Dana Patterson and Michael Rehman, CERP, PWS and representatives from Mercer County and Friends of the Abbott Marshlands, led a educational course and field exploration of the Abbott Marshlands as part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) annual Youth Inclusion Initiative. Learn more here.

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), project partners, and elected officials broke ground on the interior cleanup of Liberty State Park in Jersey City (Phase 1A), marking a significant milestone in the history of New Jersey’s most visited state park.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, participants heard presentations from Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette, USACE New York District Commander Colonel Alex Young, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, and Assemblyman William B. Sampson IV.

[gallery link="none" ids="13801,13803,13812"]

As quoted in the press release distributed by the Murphy Administration, Commissioner LaTourette said, “Today’s groundbreaking is a critical step toward building a future at Liberty State Park that brings people and communities together to enjoy the environment we all share. Through the cleanup and restoration of nearly 235 acres, we will reckon with the industrial pollution of our past and from it, create a world-class outdoor urban environment that will be enjoyed by many future generations.” Click here to read the full press release.

A long history of industrial contamination (also called legacy pollution) has left 235 acres of Liberty State Park fenced-off and inaccessible to the public for decades. The groundbreaking ceremony marks the official start of Phase 1A of the clean up and restoration project.

Engineering conceptual design plans for Liberty State Park restoration

Princeton Hydro was contracted by USACE New York District in partnership with the NJDEP Office of Natural Resource Restoration to design a resilient coastal ecosystem within 235 acres of this highly urbanized setting that provides both ecological and social benefits. This includes the restoration of over 80 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and creation of several thousands of feet of intertidal shoreline and shallow water habitat hydrologically connected to the Upper New York Bay. When constructed, this will be one of the largest ecosystem habitat restoration projects in New Jersey.

[embed]https://youtu.be/XbzQ08o7b5Y[/embed] Following the groundbreaking, the public was invited to see and comment on renderings of Phase 1B, which includes active recreation components such as athletic fields, an amphitheater, a skate park, and a community center. [gallery link="none" columns="2" ids="13805,13806,13798,13804,13813,13802,13810,13809"] To learn more about this project, click here to read our recent blog post, titled "Restoring 235 Acres in NJ's Iconic Liberty State Park." [post_title] => Reclaiming Liberty State Park: A Historic Groundbreaking Event [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => reclaiming-liberty-state-park-a-historic-groundbreaking-event [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-10-24 01:39:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-10-24 01:39:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=13796 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13656 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2023-09-29 01:20:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-29 01:20:20 [post_content] =>

In July 2021, a significant transformation began on Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania. The removal of Crayola Dam, which was was officially completed on September 29, 2022, marked the start of a journey to restore this beloved waterway to its natural state.

Now, in September 2023, as we commemorate the one-year anniversary of this remarkable undertaking, we reflect on the importance of preserving high-quality, cold-water fisheries in urban environments and eagerly anticipate the continued restoration work on Bushkill Creek in the years ahead.

[caption id="attachment_13659" align="aligncenter" width="566"] September 2023: Bushkill Creek One Year After the Removal of Crayola Dam (aka Dam #4)[/caption]

The Beauty of Bushkill Creek

Bushkill Creek originates at the base of Blue Mountain in Bushkill Township and meanders for 22 miles until it joins the Delaware River. This limestone stream flows through a diverse landscape, encompassing agricultural and suburban areas, as well as the city of Easton. It is not only a vital water resource but also a sanctuary for a thriving population of wild brown trout. Designated as a "high quality, cold-water fishery," Bushkill Creek holds a special place in the hearts of anglers and the surrounding community.

A Decade of Partnership

The journey to restore Bushkill Creek evolved over a decade of collaboration between Princeton Hydro and the Wildlands Conservancy. This partnership has focused on multiple dam removal projects in the Lehigh River Valley, each aimed at reestablishing aquatic habitats, enhancing recreational opportunities, and revitalizing economically stressed urban communities.

In particular, Princeton Hydro took the lead in designing and permitting the removal of eight consecutive barriers on Jordan Creek and two low-head dams on Little Lehigh Creek. These projects resulted in the reconnection of miles of river, an improvement in aquatic habitats, and enhanced recreational fishing opportunities in Allentown, PA.

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A Model for Progress

The success of these barrier removals set the stage for a more ambitious project in 2018, as Princeton Hydro joined forces with the Wildlands Conservancy to tackle four privately and publicly owned dams, including three consecutive dams on Bushkill Creek in Easton, PA. These projects became a blueprint for future dam removals throughout the Delaware and Lehigh Valley Watersheds, serving as a model for landowners and municipalities.

The combined barrier removals were part of a larger watershed-wide effort to enhance aquatic connectivity, fisheries, and wildlife habitats. These initiatives restored fish passage, reduced nonpoint source pollution, improved water quality, and reinstated groundwater recharge capacity. They also played a crucial role in stabilizing and restoring the stream's channels and banks.

A Comprehensive Approach

The successful execution of these dam removal projects was no small feat. Princeton Hydro's comprehensive approach included site investigations, field surveys, sediment analysis, hydraulic assessments, regulatory coordination, community engagement, design planning, permit applications, cost estimates, and construction oversight. RiverLogic Solutions LLC, the construction contractor selected for the Dam #4 removal, completed the project in line with design plans and permit waiver requirements.

The result was the official removal of the Crayola Dam, also known as Dam #4, marking a significant milestone in the restoration of Bushkill Creek.

Click below to watch the construction crew taking down Dam #4: [embed]https://youtu.be/2FNCNX0-qu0[/embed]   [gallery link="none" columns="2" ids="13663,13660"]

Looking Ahead

As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Dam #4 removal, we also look ahead to the next phases of this restoration journey. The demolition and removal of Dam #1 commenced on July 7, 2023 and was completed in August. Dam #3 is scheduled for demolition and removal later this year. And, the fourth barrier, Dam #2, is scheduled for removal in the summer of 2024. Additionally, there is a fifth dam on Bushkill Creek that Wildlands Conservancy is pursuing for removal. Stay tuned for more info!

As we move forward, we are excited about the future of Bushkill Creek and the positive impact its restoration will continue to have on both the surrounding community and beyond.

[caption id="attachment_13657" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] Bushkill Creek - One Year After the Removal of Dam #4 (September 2023)[/caption]  

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and/or overseen the removal of 80+ small and large dams in the Northeast. For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

[post_title] => Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of the Crayola Dam Removal on Bushkill Creek [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => crayola-dam-one-year-later [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-01-17 17:44:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-01-17 17:44:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=13656 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13535 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2023-08-25 15:21:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-08-25 15:21:48 [post_content] =>

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has launched its third annual Youth Inclusion Initiative. The program hopes to enrich young participants, who may not have the opportunity to explore open spaces in their community, with hands-on environmental field experience under the tutelage of NJDEP professionals and mentors.

This year’s youth consists of 47 participants from ages 16-20 that hail from five different community-based organizations. These partners include Neighborhood Improvement Association (Trenton), Rutgers-Camden, Groundwork Elizabeth, Ironbound Community Corporation (Newark), and The Work Group (Camden).

[caption id="attachment_13546" align="aligncenter" width="1230"] The youth program participants gather together with their certificates for a final group photo.[/caption]  

Over the course of this six week program, the youth participated in a curriculum that showcased career pathways in the water resources and natural resources management fields. Participants learned through classroom instruction and by receiving some in-field experience across sectors regulated by NJDEP such as touring an air monitoring station, visiting a trout hatchery, conducting stream assessments, and practicing proper tool and equipment recognition at a state park. After their time with the initiative is through, they will have nurtured the skills to pursue these job opportunities and develop a deeper appreciation for our environment.

Princeton Hydro representatives Mark Gallagher, Dana Patterson, and Michael Rehman, CERP, PWS led one of the mentorships. This is the second year NJDEP’s Division of Land Resource Protection Mitigation Unit invited Princeton Hydro to teach a portion of the program. The goal in participating was to educate the youth about the importance of restoring native landscapes and explore the job responsibilities of environmental scientists, water resource engineers, geologists, ecologists, pesticide applicators, and regulatory compliance specialists, while building upon and cultivating  fascination with nature.


The Abbott Marshlands in Trenton, New Jersey

The program kicked off with a presentation in Mercer County Park Commission’s Tulpehaking Nature Center located in John A. Roebling Park. After learning about the history of the site from representatives from Mercer County and Friends of the Abbott Marshlands, Princeton Hydro discussed opportunities for careers in conservation and gave a brief overview of the restoration efforts in the park to eradicate the invasive Common Reed (Phragmites australis). Prior to heading out to explore the Abbott Marshlands, the northernmost freshwater tidal wetlands on the Delaware River, the Princeton Hydro team went through a health and safety briefing, a very important part of our job, to make sure everyone was aware of the potential risks and exposures.

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Princeton Hydro team members and NJDEP’s Environmental Specialist Jessica Klein led the participants through the park. Right away, the first group witnessed one of nature’s marvels when they spotted a Northern Red-bellied Cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris) laying her eggs along the side of the main road. Participants learned of the marshland and surrounding upland’s rich cultural significance. On their trek through this natural oasis, they followed in the footsteps of the Lenape, a tribe of Native Americans who regularly visited and eventually settled in the area at least 13,000 years ago. These early nomadic people relied on the land for food, fuel, and other readily available resources until they were displaced due to European settlement along the Delaware River. Learn more about the Abbott Marshland cultural history here.

Eventually, the group made it to the area of the restoration site. Here, the students gained a better understanding of the harsh effects that invasive species have on an ecosystem. The 3000-acre freshwater tidal marsh provides habitat to many rare and endangered species, but it has experienced a significant amount of degradation due to monoculture of the invasive Common Reed. In order to improve the area’s biodiversity and elevate visitors’ recreational experience, Princeton Hydro implemented a restoration plan that aimed to eradicate the aggressive non-native plants within a 40-acre stretch of the marsh and enable native plants like Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica) to flourish. Learn more about this project.

NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette surprised the Rutgers-Camden group with his joyful presence. After giving a zealous speech to the class, he accompanied them on their journey to the marshland.

[caption id="attachment_11299" align="aligncenter" width="1230"] NJDEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette joins the class.[/caption]  

Overall, participants had fun learning how to use a field guide to identify invasive species found within the area. They were taught how to differentiate them with native flora like sensitive fern, poison ivy, and wild rice. With a wide survey of the marshland, the youth were taught about wetland delineation and got a peek into the process of using a hand auger and a Munsell Soil Color Book to identify wetland soils. Utilizing binoculars, the last group was lucky to spot a Northern Harrier, an uncommon visitor for the marshland, soaring circles in the sky in search of prey. The rare sighting led to the successful end of the final tour.

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The NJDEP Youth Inclusion Initiative began on July 6 and culminated on August 16 with a graduation and NJDEP Career Day where students had the opportunity to meet and discuss career options with various organizations who tabled at the event, including Princeton Hydro. To learn more about the NJDEP education program, click here. If you’re interested in learning more about Princeton Hydro’s ecological restoration services, click here. [post_title] => Another Successful Year Mentoring Participants from NJDEP's Youth Inclusion Initiative [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => njdep-youth-inclusion-initiative-2023 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-08-28 19:50:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-08-28 19:50:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=13535 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13468 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2023-08-18 06:00:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-08-18 06:00:22 [post_content] =>

A wetland is a unique ecosystem that is permanently or seasonally saturated by water, including swamps, marshes, bogs, vernal pools, and similar areas. They provide water quality improvement, flood protection, shoreline erosion control, food for humans and animals, and critical habitat for thousands of species of aquatic and terrestrial plants, aquatic organisms, and wildlife.

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Princeton Hydro is regionally recognized for its capabilities in the restoration of freshwater and saltwater wetland ecosystems. Our ecologists also regularly conduct wetland delineations. A wetland delineation, a requirement of most permitting efforts, is the field work conducted to determine the boundary between the upper limit of a wetland and the lower limit of an upland thus identifying the approximate extent and location of wetlands on a requested site.

For this edition of our “A Day in the Life” blog series, we join Environmental Scientist Ivy Babson and Regulatory Compliance & Wildlife Surveys Project Manager Emily Bjorhus, PWS out in the field for a wetland delineation.


To Delineate a Wetland We Must First Define It

Most commonly, wetlands are delineated based on the Routine Onsite Determination Method set forth in the Federal Manual Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands (FICWD 1989) with supplemental information provided by the applicable United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) regional supplement manual.

USACE’s “three-parameter” approach defines an area as a wetland if it exhibits, under normal circumstances, all the following characteristics:

  1. The land supports a dominance of hydrophytic vegetation;
  2. The substrate is hydric soil; and
  3. The soil/substrate is at least periodically saturated or inundated during a portion of the growing season.

Step 1: Prepare for Delineation Day

Ivy and Emily begin by coordinating with the client to ensure they’ve been granted site access approval.

They then perform a comprehensive desktop analysis of the project site, identifying existing features like wetlands, open waters (streams, lakes), and potential hydric soils. This involves utilizing resources like USFWS's National Wetland Inventory Mapper, the U.S. Geological Survey's SSURGO Soils Survey, and, for New Jersey-based delineations, NJDEP's GeoWeb. The desktop review also allows Ivy and Emily to assemble the proper safety gear and create a Model Health & Safety Plan (HASP). A HASP must always be prepared before the field work begins.

Then, the field-day packing begins; the following items are a requirement for any wetland delineation:
  1. Field notebook and writing utensils
  2. Soil auger (for examining soil profiles)
  3. Munsell soil color chart book (for assessing soil types)
  4. High-vis flagging and pin flags
  5. Hi-vis surveyors or wetland delineator’s vest
  6. Muck boots or waders (depending on the type of environment and existing features)
  7. Field map, usually an up-to-date aerial, showing the boundaries of the site
  8. Sunscreen and bug spray (ticks are a common occurrence)
  9. Plenty of water and food - wetland delineations can be quite strenuous, especially in the summer
  10. Appropriate clothing - wetland delineations can be conducted year-round
 

Step 2: Set the Game Plan & Review HASP

It's always important to make a plan for the project. If we are delineating a large property, it might take several days to traverse, and each day, the weather might be different. So planning ahead, but also being prepared for unexpected changes, will make the day go that much smoother. And, as part of the HASP, we must identify important points of contact and know where the closest hospital is in case of a serious emergency.  So, reviewing this information and planning ahead prior to heading into the field is a very important step in the process.


Step 3: Perform the Three-Parameter Wetland Delineation

While wetland delineations can be conducted any time of the year, they are best conducted during the “growing season” when soil temperatures are above the biologic zero and vegetation is easily identifiable by leaves, inflorescence, or other unique identifying characteristics that would otherwise be difficult to identify during the winter months.

Ivy and Emily begin by locating known (mapped) wetland or waterbody features and writing a list of all plants observed on-site. They maintain the plant list throughout the day.

If, during the desktop review, they find a mapped wetland or stream, they walk there first to determine if wetlands are actually present. Even if a wetland is mapped on a database, it may not actually exist for various reasons. On the flip side, even if a site is not mapped as containing wetlands, the site could very well contain them. As such, the wetland delineation determines exactly what is on-site and supplements the desktop review.

As mentioned above, a wetland delineation considers three determining factors: 1) vegetation, 2) soils, and 3) hydrology. While on site, Ivy and Emily must identify hydrophytic vegetation, take soil borings, and look for wetland hydrology to identify whether a wetland is present or not.

Parameter 1: Vegetation

Wetlands are dominated by hydrophytes which are plants that can grow in water or on a substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen because of excessive water content and depleted soil oxygen levels.

The USACE and NJDEP definition of hydrophytes is based on the USFWS classification system. In general, any plant species that is found growing in wetlands more than 50% of the time is considered a hydrophyte. These plants include those classified by the USFWS as “facultative," “facultative wetland," or “obligate."

As a wetland delineator, it is important to possess strong plant identification skills and an eye for recognizing various ecological plant communities, which are groups of plants that share a common environment and environmental requirements. They are often defined by dominant plant species.

Once Ivy and Emily identify the hydrophytic plant community, they determine what type of ecological community they are in (e.g., freshwater forested wetland, estuarine scrub-shrub wetland, or freshwater tidal emergent marsh). Today, they are in a freshwater forested wetland, which means Ivy and Emily must now assess each stratum of the forested wetland by writing down the species and associated percent species cover.

[gallery link="none" ids="13448,13450,14314"]

To accurately describe the vegetation at each sampling point, we collect data on each horizontal strata or layer. Vegetative strata for which dominants are determined include (1) tree (> 5.0 inches diameter at breast height (DBH) and 20 feet or taller); (2) sapling (0.4 to <5.0 inches DBH and <20 feet tall); (3) shrub (usually 3 to 20 feet tall including multi-stemmed, bushy shrubs); (4) woody vine; and (5) herb (herbaceous plants including graminoids, forbs, ferns, fern allies, herbaceous vines, and tree seedlings). They repeat this process for each representative wetland.

Next, Ivy and Emily look for the upland plant community that is directly upslope of the wetland and make note of the proximity to the wetland, repeating the same vegetation documentation process.

Parameter 2: Soils

Ivy and Emily must determine whether the soils within the hydrophytic plant community are hydric. Hydric soils are defined as soils that are saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part. Hydric soil indicators are features in the soil that predominantly form by biogeochemical processes in a saturated and anaerobic environment and result in the accumulation of loss of iron, manganese, sulfur, or carbon compounds.

Emily uses a soil auger to collect a sample of the first 6 - 12 inches of soil where the most significant parts of a hydric soil would be occurring.

 

Once Ivy and Emily identify that the soil is indeed hydric, Ivy uses her Munsell soil color book to determine the value of the soil and each hydric soil indicator.

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They also document additional characteristics of each soil layer: Is it loam, silty loam, sand, sandy loam, silt, muck, clay, clayey loam, etc.? What is the percentage of rocks, plant roots, or other organic matter in each layer? What is the percentage of redoximorphic features of each layer and are they faint or prominent?

Each layer of the soil profile, which is typically documented to a depth of at least 18 inches, is sectioned out and thoroughly described.

Parameter 3: Hydrology

The identification of positive indicators of wetland hydrology includes direct observation of indicator groups, such as the observation of surface water or saturated soils, evidence of recent inundation, evidence of current or recent soil saturation, and evidence from other site conditions or data. Each group contains several indicators, which are classified into categories known as “primary” or “secondary” indicators.

To positively identify the area as being a wetland, at least one primary wetland indicator (from any group) or at least two secondary wetland indicators (from any group) must be present.

Additionally, for an area to be designated as a wetland, the area must have the presence of water for a week or more during the growing season. Areas with wetland hydrology characteristics are those where the presence of water has an overriding influence on characteristics of vegetation and soils due to anaerobic and reducing conditions, respectively.

[caption id="attachment_13488" align="aligncenter" width="483"] This red maple developed morphologic adaptations in the form of buttressed roots.[/caption]  

Today, Emily and Ivy observe a depression (secondary) along with a few inches of standing water (primary), water-stained leaves (primary), frogs hopping around (primary), and moss trim lines on the tree trunks (secondary). All signs point to a forested wetland; however, there is more to consider.

Ivy and Emily’s soil boring assessment showed that the soils within the top 12 inches of the soil surface were saturated (primary) and bright orange streaks were visible along the plant roots, which they documented as oxidized rhizospheres along living roots (primary). Because they identified more than one primary and two secondary wetland indicators, they can confidently delineate the wetland.


Step 4: Delineate Between the Wetland and Upland

Now that Ivy and Emily established that a wetland is present, they must find the boundary of the upland. They are now looking for the absence of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and positive indicators of wetland hydrology as well as the dominance of upland ecological plant communities. The same analysis and documentation process they completed for the wetland area is also required for the upland area.

Once they locate the boundary, they flag the wetland line, labeling the flagging with the wetland nomenclature and either hanging it or pinning it into the ground.

While the description sounds relatively simple, finding the boundary between a wetland and upland can be tricky and time consuming. For example, there may be some hydrophytic vegetation growing within an upland and there may be one secondary positive indicator of wetland hydrology, but hydric soils are missing. To positively classify an area as a wetland, a slam dunk on all three parameters is required.

[caption id="attachment_13513" align="aligncenter" width="639"] Marked up image indicating the upland, wetland, and stream. The red line marks the boundary between a wetland and an upland. The blue line marks the boundary between a stream and the wetlands on either side of the stream’s banks.[/caption]

Step 5: Delineate Waterbodies

Ivy and Emily must also delineate waterbodies concurrent with wetlands. Waterbodies may include, but are not limited to, streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. To delineate a waterbody, they hang labeled flagging along the waterbody’s top of bank or its ordinary high water mark. Throughout this process, they take pictures to document the existing waterbody conditions.

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Step 6: Post-Delineation Wrap-up

Once the wetland delineation is complete, Ivy and Emily draw out a field sketch that depicts the approximate extent and location of the wetland and waterbody boundaries with their respective nomenclature.

Depending on the project scope, the field sketch is either submitted to a Professional Licensed Surveyor who will then visit the site to survey each wetland and waterbody flag, or Ivy and Emily will return to the site to survey each flag with a survey-grade GPS. Once the survey is complete, Ivy and Emily will conduct a final review of the plans to ensure accuracy.

If requested, they will also prepare a wetland delineation report, which outlines the delineation method, findings, results, and thorough description of each wetland and its soils, hydrology, and vegetation.

“Wetland delineations aren’t for the faint of heart,” said Ivy. “At the end of the day, you might emerge from a dense stand of Phragmites garnering strange looks from passersby with muck smeared on your face, sticks and leaves poking out of your hair, a belly full of mosquitos that you might have accidentally swallowed, and fingernails stuffed with dirt. However, there isn’t any other type of field that I would rather be in. As a wetland delineator, I can access environments that most people would steer clear of and, as a result, I get to see things that I wouldn’t get to see anywhere else. I get to improve my plant identification skills and expand my knowledge of how wetlands function as an ecosystem.”

[caption id="attachment_13478" align="aligncenter" width="566"] Ivy standing in a tidal marsh at Spring Creek North in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. "This wetland delineation is one of my favorite delineating experiences yet. And, I'm looking forward to many more to come!"[/caption]
A big thanks to Ivy and Emily for taking us out in the field for a wetland delineation!

Emily Bjorhus is a Project Manager that specializes in environmental regulatory compliance, ecological services and wildlife surveys. She leads federal, state and local environmental permitting processes, NEPA compliance and documentation, Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultations, and Clean Water Act Section 404(b)1 analyses. Mrs. Bjorhus is a certified Professional Wetland Scientist.

   

As an Environmental Scientist, Ivy Babson regularly conducts wetland delineations and monitoring, flora/fauna surveys, water quality sampling, fishery surveys, permitting, and regulatory compliance for a series of projects. She earned her Wetland Delineation Certification from Rutgers University. Ivy graduated from the University of Vermont in 2019 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecological Design, and minor in Geospatial Technologies.

  To read more about our wetland restoration work, go here: http://bit.ly/PHwetland. If you enjoyed this blog, check out another one from our “A Day in the Life” series, and stay tuned for more. [post_title] => A Day in the Life: Performing a Wetland Delineation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-day-in-the-life-performing-a-wetland-delineation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-01-18 04:23:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-01-18 04:23:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=13468 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13355 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2023-08-16 07:03:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-08-16 07:03:24 [post_content] =>

400 native plants were installed along the western shoreline of Memorial Pond in Mount Arlington, New Jersey. The planting was completed in one day by a team of 20+ volunteers, staff members from Mt. Arlington Department of Public Works (DPW), Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Lake Hopatcong Commission, Princeton Hydro, and a generous community member who volunteered his excavating equipment (and time).

The planting initiative aims to prevent shoreline erosion, promote the growth of native species, increase wildlife habitat, and improve the water quality of Memorial Pond and Lake Hopatcong. Funding for this project was secured through a grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, awarded to the Lake Hopatcong Commission in partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

[caption id="attachment_13422" align="aligncenter" width="616"] Photo by Lake Hopatcong Foundation Executive Director Kyle Richter[/caption]

Memorial Pond

Drainage Area Aerial Map of Mt. Arlington Memorial Beach and Memorial Park in New Jersey. Created by Princeton Hydro.Memorial Pond is a 0.3-acre stormwater runoff basin that gradually releases into Glen Brook, which then flows into Lake Hopatcong. The pond receives sheet flow of stormwater from the adjacent road, which contributes to nutrient and sediment loading, thus locally reducing water quality in Memorial Pond and ultimately the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Memorial Park, which includes Memorial Pond and Glen Brook, was identified by Princeton Hydro and the Lake Hopatcong team as a priority site for improvement, targeting initiatives that reduce pollutants and excessive nutrients entering into Lake Hopatcong.

Additionally, the pond’s steeply-sloped shoreline was bare and only stabilized with large rocks at the base of the banks. In the absence of stabilizing vegetation, the pond’s banks were experiencing erosion, and there was some concern about a few mature trees along the shoreline potentially falling into the pond.

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The photos above were taken in April 2023 before the planting initiative.


Shoreline Planting Initiative

The plant selection and layout were designed taking into account the steep slope and presence of mature, existing trees as well as focusing on regionally native plant species that will thrive and help stabilize the eroding shoreline. The planting team, led by Princeton Hydro Landscape Architect Jamie Feinstein, RLA and Aquatics Project Manager Pat Rose, was given precise instructions on how to install the plants to eliminate washouts and ensure the root systems can embrace the soil and hold it in place.

A variety of native herbaceous plants and shrubs were chosen for the site, including pennsylvania sedge, slender mountain mint, blue flag iris, sweet azalea, smooth hydrangea, and maple-leaved viburnum.

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The plants will help reduce stormwater flow, absorb excess nutrients, prevent erosion, and ultimately decrease sedimentation to the pond, while creating a visually pleasing addition to the park and providing a habitat for pollinators and birds. Overall, this project promotes a healthier and more balanced ecosystem in Memorial Park.

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The photos above were taken in July 2023 immediately after the planting initiative.


Multi-Faceted Approach to Water Quality Improvements

The installation of these beneficial plants is part of a series of water quality initiatives on Lake Hopatcong funded by a NJDEP Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Prevention & Management Grant and 319(h) Grant awarded to Lake Hopatcong Commission in partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

Additional initiatives included in the watershed implementation and HABs management plan are, the installation of:

  • floating wetland island (FWI), which are a low-cost, effective green infrastructure solution designed to mimic natural wetlands in a sustainable, efficient, and powerful way. FWIs improve water quality by assimilating and removing excess nutrients; provide valuable ecological habitat for a variety of beneficial species; help mitigate wave and wind erosion impacts; provide an aesthetic element; and add significant biodiversity enhancement within open freshwater environments;

  • biochar filtration bags, which improve water quality by removing phosphorus from waterbodies. Biochar can be placed in floatation balls, cages, or sacks, which are then tethered along the shoreline and in critical locations throughout the waterbody; and

  • nanobubble aeration system, which increases the concentrations of dissolved oxygen in the water, prevents stagnation of water, increases circulation, disrupts thermal stratification which provides “through-column” mixing, and minimizes the occurrence of HABs.

“Paired with biochar filters attached to buoys in the pond and continued monitoring and maintenance of the plantings by the DPW, these steps will set a healthy precedent for what can be achieved through working together with funders, local partners, science, and landscape architecture,” said Feinstein, who sourced plant material, provided logistics and co-led the planning and volunteer planting event along with Rose.

Princeton Hydro's Landscape Architect, Cory Speroff PLA, ASLA, CBLP, designed the planting plan, and Will Kelleher and Jackson Tilves from the Aquatics Team participated in the plant installation event with Feinstein.

Princeton Hydro is also authoring and supplying a maintenance manual that provides guidance on seasonal care of the plantings, when to remove the herbivory protection fencing, pruning, watering, and other activities that support the long term success of the planting initiative. 

“This collaborative effort to enhance water quality serves as a prime example of how seemingly simple actions can have a meaningful impact on safeguarding our water resources for the benefit of future generations,” said the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

[gallery link="none" ids="13403,13429,13393"]

The photos above from left to right: June 2023 before the planting; July 2023 during the planting (photo by Lake Hopatcong Foundation Executive Director Kyle Richter); and July 2023 immediately after the planting.


Princeton Hydro has been working on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest Lake, for 30+ years, restoring the lake, managing the watershed, reducing pollutant loading, and addressing invasive aquatic plants and nuisance algal blooms. To read about some of the other projects we’ve recently worked on at Lake Hopatcong, click here.

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When we hear about harmful algal bloom (HAB) outbreaks, like those recently spotted in New Jersey, the first thoughts that come to mind usually involve discolored waters, environmental disruption, closed beaches, and potential human health hazards. Yet, a crucial aspect that often escapes the spotlight is the impact of these blooms on animals, including pets, wildlife, and livestock.

As HABs proliferate due to factors like excess nutrients and warming waters, the impacts ripple across a wide spectrum of living things, encompassing everything from aquatic species to humans to our animal companions, working animals, and livestock. Animals are most at risk because they may bathe/swim in affected water, drink contaminated water, or ingest it when cleaning algae from fur/hair coat, and the symptoms of HABs toxicity can go unnoticed for a period of time.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a new factsheet that specifically provides an array of information and techniques to safeguard livestock from the dangers of HABs. 

In this blog, we provide links to the USDA NRCS's newly released informational resources, shed light on the often-unseen consequences of HABs, and outline steps to protect the four-legged members of our agricultural communities.


Deciphering HABs

HABs are rapid, large overgrowths of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, aren’t actually algae, they are prokaryotes, single-celled aquatic organisms that are closely related to bacteria and can photosynthesize like algae. These microorganisms are a natural part of aquatic ecosystems, but, under the right conditions (e.g., heavy rains followed by hot, sunny days), these organisms can rapidly increase to form HABs. Climate change is leading to more frequent, more intense rainstorms that drive run-off pollutants into waterways, coupled with more hot days that increase the water temperature, creating the ideal environment for HABs to proliforate.  In recent years, HABs have begun to appear in more places, earlier in the summer.

[caption id="attachment_13363" align="aligncenter" width="1230"]Nutrient sources of HABs. Illustration created by USGS. Nutrient sources of HABs. Illustration created by USGS. Click image to enlarge.[/caption]  

HABs can cause significant water quality issues in lakes and ponds, often forming a visible and sometimes odorous scum on the surface of the water. They can produce toxins that are incredibly harmful (even deadly) to humans, aquatic organisms, and animals, including livestock.


Mitigating Livestock Exposure to HABs

The health impacts and symptoms can vary depending on the size and type of animal, how an animal is exposed to the cyanotoxin, how long they were exposed, which type of toxin was present, and how much toxin was present.

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure in animals includes: vomiting, profuse salivation, fatigue, unsteady gait, labored breathing, convulsions, and liver malfunction. When animals bathe or swim in waters with even low concentrations of cyanotoxins, it may cause skin rashes, ear/throat infections, and gastrointestinal distress. In severe cases, especially when contaminated water is ingested, HAB poisoning can prove fatal.

When HABs are present in a waterbody that is accessible to and utilized by livestock, it's important to immediately restrict access to the contaminated water. If a potential exposure to cyanotoxins has occurred, NRCS recommends:

  1. Washing animals with clean water and monitoring for symptoms of exposure to cyanotoxins.
  2. Isolating any animals exhibiting symptoms and seeking veterinary care as soon as possible.
  3. Providing animals with an alternative source of fresh, safe drinking water.
  4. Contacting the appropriate state agency for sampling and testing guidance to test the water source for HABs and cyanotoxins. Please note: It is not safe for landowners to sample the water themselves without proper personal protective equipment and procedures.
  5. Visiting the CDC website for further information, or contacting your state/county health department.

In its newly released fact sheet, NRCS also provides a number of ideas for segregating livestock from tainted waters, reducing the risk of livestock exposure to HABs, and providing alternate water sources, including:

  1. Installing protective fencing (Conservation Practice 382)
  2. Constructing purposeful ponds (Conservation Practice 378)
  3. Implementing access control measures (Conservation Practice 472)
  4. Establishing reliable water wells (Conservation Practice 642)
  5. Designing effective watering facilities (Conservation Practice 614)
To download the USDA NRCS fact sheet, click below:

To minimize the risk of future HABs, it's important to stay informed, routinely monitor waterbodies, take actions to reduce harmful effects, and adopt conservation practices that prevent nutrient loading to waterbodies.

Princeton Hydro is regionally recognized for its HABs expertise, having provided management recommendations and services for 100+ lakes and ponds in the Northeast, including Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest lake. To learn more about our lake management and HABs prevention services, click here. For additional HABs resources from the USDA NRCS, click here.

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Nestled within the New Jersey townships of Hamilton, Robbinsville, and West Windsor lies Miry Run Dam Site 21—an expansive 279-acre parcel with a rich history dating back to its acquisition by Mercer County in the late 1970s. Originally earmarked for flood mitigation and recreation, this hidden gem is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation, poised to unveil its true potential as a thriving public park.

Central to the revitalization efforts is a comprehensive Master Plan, meticulously crafted by Mercer County Park Commission in partnership with Simone Collins Landscape Architecture and Princeton Hydro. This visionary roadmap encompasses a spectrum of engineering and ecological uplift initiatives, including:

  • Several types of trails and boardwalks that total approximately 7 miles, including a tree canopy walk-through over an area of vernal pools;
  • A nature-based playground and an ADA inclusive playground;
  • Kayak launch and water trail;
  • Protected swimming area for a limited number of swimmers each day;
  • A native plant arboretum and horticultural garden;
  • Fishing access areas;
  • Parking lots, driveways, small restrooms and pavilions; and
  • A group camping area that would accommodate about 30-40 campers.

The Master Plan serves as a long-term vision for improvements to the property and will be implemented over multiple phases. In 2021, it was recognized with the Landscape Architectural Chapter Award from the New Jersey Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects, which underscores its innovative and impactful approach to landscape design.


Phase One is Underway

Now, Dam Site 21’s revitalization has begun with a crucial endeavor: the dredging of its 50-acre lake. This process, spearheaded by Mercer County Park Commission in collaboration with Princeton Hydro, aims to rejuvenate the water body by removing accumulated debris, sediment, and invasive vegetation—a vital step towards restoring its ecological balance. Beyond the aesthetic and ecological improvements, dredging enhances accessibility for recreational activities that provide an opportunity to create a deeper connection between the park’s visitors and its beautiful natural landscape.

Based on the bathymetric assessment, which the Princeton Hydro team completed as part of the Master Plan, the dredging efforts are focused on three primary areas: Area 1 is located in the main body of the lake just downstream of Line Road and will generate approximately 34,000 cubic yards of dredged material; Area 2, which has approximately 4,900 cubic yards of accumulated sediment is located in the northeast cove, just north of Area 1; and Area 3, the northwestern cove, entails the removal of approximately 7,300 cubic yards of accumulated sediment.

This video, taken on February 27, provides an aerial view of the project site and the dredging in progress: [embed]https://youtu.be/F7t39mD1Rq8?si=6pnAarnT2RomS0s6[/embed]

Before the dredging work could begin, the Princeton Hydro team was responsible for providing a sediment sampling plan, sample collection and laboratory analysis, engineering design plan, preparation and submission of all NJDEP regulatory permitting materials, preparation of the technical specifications, and bid administration. Currently, our team is providing construction administration and oversight for the project.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" size="medium" ids="14730,14726"] [caption id="attachment_14729" align="aligncenter" width="1227"] March 19 2024 - The dredging work begins[/caption]

From Planning to Implementation and Beyond

The journey towards Dam Site 21's revival has been marked by meticulous planning, design, and community engagement spanning several years. With the commencement of dredging operations, the project's vision is gradually materializing—a testament to the dedication of all stakeholders involved. As the first phase unfolds, anticipation mounts for the realization of a vibrant, inclusive public space that honors both nature and community.

[caption id="attachment_14713" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Drone image of the Miry Run Dam Site 21 Project (Feb 27 2024)[/caption] [gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="14735,14734,14736"]

As Dam Site 21 undergoes its metamorphosis, it symbolizes not just a physical restoration, but a renewal of collective vision and commitment. Ultimately, Dam Site 21 isn't just a park—it's a testament to the enduring legacy of conservation, community, and the transformative power of restoration.

The significance of Dam Site 21's transformation extends far beyond its recreational appeal. It embodies a commitment to environmental stewardship, with measures aimed at bolstering flood resilience, improving water quality, and nurturing diverse wildlife habitats. By blending conservation with recreation, the project strikes an important balance between creating access for community members to enjoy the space and ecological preservation that puts native plants,  critical habitat, and wildlife at the forefront.


To learn more about the restoration initiative and view the Final Master Plan, visit the Mercer County Park Commission’s website. Click here to learn about another one of Princeton Hydro’s recent restoration efforts. And, stay tuned here for more Mercer County Park Commission project updates!

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Posted on April 10, 2024

Restoration in Motion at Miry Run’s Dam Site 21

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