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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) launched a Youth Inclusion Initiative to help the State of New Jersey develop the next generation of environmental protection, conservation and stewardship leaders while also providing an avenue for young adults from open space-constrained communities to engage with nature as they provide valuable stewardship services to the public through jobs at NJDEP. 

This year, the youth inclusion program is partnering with Groundwork Elizabeth, Rutgers University Camden, and Newark’s Ironbound Community Corporation to create a workforce development curriculum for people ages 17 to 24. Groundwork Elizabeth sent 12 participants to this year’s program, and Rutgers Camden and the Ironbound Community Corporation each sent 10.

[caption id="attachment_11299" align="aligncenter" width="771"] Photo by NJDEP[/caption]

The curriculum provides career education in the environmental protection field and helps the young participants develop the skills necessary to pursue those career paths in New Jersey. Participants learn through classroom instruction and by working across sectors regulated by the NJDEP, including water resources, air quality, energy and sustainability, public lands management, and wildlife. 

Susan Lockwood of NJDEP’s Division of Land Resource Protection’s Mitigation Unit reached out to Princeton Hydro to showcase ecosystem restoration and mitigation efforts across the state as well as discuss the variety of career roles that make these projects possible. Our portion of the curriculum entailed each group of students visiting two sites to learn about the benefits of restoring a landscape with native vegetation. Our discussion explored different fields of work related to urban environmental restoration and water resource protection and the job responsibilities of environmental scientists, water resource engineers, geologists, ecologists, pesticide applicators, and regulatory compliance specialists. 

The Abbott Marshlands in Trenton, New Jersey

[gallery link="none" ids="11287,11288,11281"]

After a quick stop at NJDEP’s office in Trenton to learn about NJ invasive species, all three groups popped over to the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Mercer County’s John A. Roebling Park to see the restoration site in the Abbott Marshlands. The 3,000-acre Abbott Marshlands 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. Unfortunately, the area has experienced a significant amount of loss and degradation, partially due to the introduction of the invasive Common Reed (Phragmites australis). For Mercer County Park Commission, Princeton Hydro implemented a restoration plan to remove Common Reed and expose the native seed bank in 40-acres of the marsh to increase biodiversity, improve recreational opportunities, and enhance visitor experience. Students learned how to tell the difference between the invasive Common Reed vs. native Wild Rice (Zizania palustris L.). They utilized tools of the trade like field guides and binoculars to identify flora and fauna in the marsh. Learn more about this project.


Mullica River Wetland Mitigation Site in Evesham, New Jersey

[gallery link="none" ids="11343,11342,11282"]

After visiting the Roebling site, students from Camden traveled down to Evesham Township in Burlington County to visit the Mullica River Wetland Mitigation Site. For this project, Princeton Hydro worked with GreenVest, LLC to restore a highly degraded 34-acre parcel of land which was previously used for cranberry cultivation. Through the implementation of restoration activities focused on removing the site’s agricultural infrastructure, Princeton Hydro and GreenVest were able to restore a natural wetland system on the site and over 1,600 linear feet of stream, providing forested, scrub-shrub, and emergent wetlands, forested uplands, headwater stream and riparian buffer, and critical wildlife habitat. The project also significantly uplifted threatened and endangered species habitats including Timber Rattlesnake.

Susan Lockwood of NJDEP, Owen McEnroe of GreenVest, and Dana Patterson of Princeton Hydro, lead the group of 10 students. They learned the difference between restoration and mitigation and got to experience the remoteness of Pinelands habitat. Walking through the site, we shared how the dam and dike removal helped to restore the river back to its natural free-flowing state and the numerous resulting environmental benefits.The site was chosen for the Camden students in order to demonstrate that successful mitigation and restoration projects happen throughout the State and not far from urban centers like Camden. Learn more about this project.


3. Third River Floodplain Wetland Enhancement Project in Bloomfield, New Jersey

[gallery link="none" ids="11344,11279,11277"]

After visiting the Roebling site, students from Newark and Elizabeth trekked up to Essex County to visit an urban wetland creation project now known as Lion Gate Park. The once densely developed, abandoned Scientific Glass Factory in Bloomfield Township was transformed into a thriving public park with 4.2 acres of wetlands. Students heard the story of how this project came to be; decades of advocacy and litigation by community members and environmental nonprofits to stop redevelopment of the site into 148 townhomes. Bloomfield Township eventually secured the property to preserve as open space through a range of grants from NJDEP. Serving as the ecological engineer to Bloomfield Township, Princeton Hydro designed, permitted, and oversaw construction for the restoration project and is currently monitoring the site. The restoration work brought back to the land valuable ecological functions and natural floodplain connection, enhanced aquatic and wildlife habitat, and increased flood storage capacity for urban stormwater runoff. Learn more about this project.


 

The NJDEP Youth Inclusion Initiative began on July 5 with a week of orientation classes, and continued through August with classroom and in-field learning. The initiative culminates on August 26 with a graduation and NJDEP Career Day, during which students will have the opportunity to meet with and discuss career options with various organizations tabling at the event, including Princeton Hydro.

Click here to learn more about the NJDEP education program. If you’re interested in learning more about Princeton Hydro’s ecological restoration services, click here.

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Just 50 miles southeast of New York City, tucked between two municipalities, sits a 650+ acre tidal salt marsh which spans the shorelines of the South River in densely populated, highly developed Central New Jersey. The South River is the first major tributary of the Raritan River, located 8.3 miles upstream of the Raritan River’s mouth, which drains into Raritan Bay.

The Lower Raritan River and Raritan Bay make up a large part of the core of the NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program. Within the Raritan Estuary, the South River wetland ecosystem is one of the largest remaining wetland complexes. While the South River salt marsh ecosystem has been spared from direct development, it has been degraded in quality, and does not provide optimal habitat for wildlife or maximum flood protection for residents. This area is subject to fairly regular tidal flooding (particularly when it occurs simultaneously with a storm) and periodic—generally more severe—flooding during more significant events such as nor’easters and tropical storms. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy caused damage in the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River too.

In 2018, Princeton Hydro and Rutgers University, along with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Middlesex County, Borough of Sayreville, Borough of South River, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Raritan Riverkeeper, and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, secured funding from NFWF’s National Coastal Resilience Fund for the “South River Ecosystem Restoration & Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project.”

The South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project aims to:

  • Reduce socioeconomic damages to the Boroughs of South River and Sayreville caused by storm damage, flooding, and sea level rise;

  • Transform degraded wetlands to high-quality marsh that can reduce flooding and enhance fish & wildlife habitat; and

  • Engage stakeholders in activities about coastal resilience and ecological health to maximize public outreach in the Raritan River Watershed.

For this 165-acre tidal marsh and transitional forest “eco-park,” the project team is conducting an ecosystem restoration site assessment and design. This phase of the coastal restoration project will result in a permit-ready engineering design plan that stabilizes approximately 2.5 miles of shoreline, reduces flood risk for smaller coastal storms, and enhances breeding and foraging habitat for 10 state-listed threatened and endangered avian species.

[gallery link="none" ids="9640,9642,9639"]

Project Area History

This area has experienced repeated flooding, especially during large storms. For example, coastal areas of Sayreville and South River flooded after Hurricane Floyd (1999), Tropical Storm Ernesto (2006), Hurricane Irene (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012). Over the last century, there have been several studies and assessments completed for the South River, many of which identify this project area as a priority location for flooding improvements. The following are key reports and studies published about the project area and surrounding communities:

  • NJ Legislature’s 71st Congress published a report, “Basinwide Water Resource Development Report on the Raritan River Basin” which focused on navigation and flood control for the entire Raritan River Basin. It discussed recommendations for flood control and local storm drainage, setting the stage for future actions.

1970s
  • NJDEP Division of Water Resources published Flood Hazard Reports for the Matchaponix Brook System and Raritan River Basin, which delineated the floodplains in the South River, and its tributaries, the Manalapan Brook and Matchaponix Brook.

1980s
  • USACE New York District released a “Survey Report for Flood Control, Raritan River Basin,” which served as a comprehensive study of the Raritan River Basin and recommended several additional studies. Although the South River was studied, none of the proposed improvements were determined to be economically feasible at that time.

  • Project area was listed as one of the Nation’s Estuaries of National Significance.

1990s
  • USACE conducted a multi-purpose study of this area. This preliminary investigation identified Federal interest in Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction and ecosystem restoration along the South River and concluded that a 100-year level of structural protection would be technically and economically feasible.

2000s
  • USACE NYD and NJDEP released a joint draft, “Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement” for the South River, Raritan River Basin, which focused on “Hurricane & Storm Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration.” Because it was previously determined that there were no widespread flooding problems upstream, the study area was modified to focus on the flood-prone areas within the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River, as well as Old Bridge Township.

Towards a More Resilient South River Ecosystem

Through collaboration with our project partners and following input provided from a virtual stakeholder meeting held in December 2020, Princeton Hydro developed a conceptual design for an eco-park that incorporates habitat enhancement and restoration, and protective measures to reduce impacts from flooding while maximizing public access and utility. Public access includes trails for walking and designated areas for fishing. The eco-park can also be used for additional recreation activities such as bird watching and kayaking.

Highlights of the conceptual design include the following features:

  • Approximately two miles of trails with overlook areas, connection to fishing access, and a kayak launch.

  • ~3,000 linear feet of living shoreline, located along portions of the Washington Canal and the South River, to provide protection from erosion, reduce the wake and wave action, and provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

  • ~60 acres of enhanced upland forest to provide contiguous habitat areas for resident and migratory fauna.

  • A tidal channel that will connect to the existing mud flat on the southeastern part of the site and provide tidal flushing to proposed low and high marsh habitats along its banks.

  • A vegetated berm with a trail atop will extend the length of the site to help mitigate flood risk.

  • Two nesting platforms for Osprey, a species listed as “Threatened” in NJ

  • Designated nesting habitat for the Diamondback Terrapin, a species listed as “Special Concern” in NJ

Princeton Hydro specializes in the planning, design, permitting, implementing, and maintenance of ecological rehabilitation and floodplain management projects. Click here to read about a coastal rehabilitation and resiliency project we completed in New Jersey.

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Princeton Hydro is proud to announce that Cory Speroff, PLA, ASLA, CBLP, Landscape Architect for the firm, has become a Licensed Professional Landscape Architect in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, enabling our firm to now offer professional landscape architect services in those states. 

This achievement demonstrates an advanced level of skill and competency in providing landscape architecture services that protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public and natural environment as well as in-depth knowledge of stormwater best management practices, green infrastructure, and sustainable planning and design.

Cory participating in a volunteer planting event on Arbor Day 2019 in Exton Park

In order to apply for a landscape architect license in the state of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, applicants are required to: 

  • Possess a degree in Landscape Architecture - Cory obtained his Master of Landscape Architecture (MLArch) focused in landscape restoration from Temple University School of Environmental Design;
  • Have four years of work experience - Cory joined the Princeton Hydro team in 2015;
  • Establish a Council Record with the Council of Landscape Architect Registration Board (CLARB);
  • Pass all four sections of the rigorous Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE) - the sections are Project and Construction Management, Inventory and Analysis, Design, and Grading, Drainage, and Construction Documentation; and
  • Apply to become licensed in each state

“The process to become a Professional Landscape Architect is not an easy one. I spent a lot of late nights studying technical manuals covering everything from the most obscure contents of construction contracts to the components and design of irrigation systems. Achieving this license and being able to offer this service to current and future clients has been a goal of mine since graduating. With this license, Princeton Hydro can now bring our wide range of expertise into an entirely new sector and I am very excited about our prospects.”

Cory Speroff, PLA, ASLA, CBLP

As a Landscape Architect for Princeton Hydro, Cory is responsible for the creation of designs, renderings, graphics, planting lists, planting plans, and construction documents associated with various aspects of environmental restoration, habitat creation, and stormwater management. Working closely with the firm’s senior management team, Cory develops creative design solutions that achieve the most socioeconomic value from a space while also achieving high environmental function.

Examples of Cory's Work:


Dunes at Shoal Harbor Shoreline Restoration & Protection

For the Dunes at Shoal Harbor, a coastal residential community in Monmouth County, New Jersey severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Princeton Hydro was contracted to provide site design and construction for shoreline restoration, erosion prevention and protection from future storm events, wave attacks and flooding

Cory worked on the project team to provide site design plans for the following initiatives: 

  • The installation of a 15-foot rock revetment (one foot above the 100-year floodplain elevation) constructed with four-foot diameter boulders;
  • The replacement of a failed elevated timber walkway with a concrete slab-on-grade walkway, restoring portions of the existing bulkhead, clearing invasive plants, and the complete restoration of the failed stormwater basin and outlet; and
  • The development of natural barriers to reduce the impacts of storm surges and protect the coastal community, including planting stabilizing coastal vegetation to prevent erosion and installing fencing along the dune to facilitate natural dune growth.

The construction was completed in September 2020. 


Ocean County Park Living Shoreline

Princeton Hydro worked closely with the American Littoral Society (ALS) to acquire SFY2014 319(h) funding to implement green infrastructure and Non‐Point Source (NPS) Pollution Control Projects within the Metedeconk River Watershed. 

One of the projects entailed the removal of two sections of deteriorating bulkhead from Ocean County Park’s Duck Pond and replacing them with living shorelines, which were designed by Cory. The focus of the project was two‐fold: reduce the NPS loading that compromises the Metedeconk River’s water quality, as well as restoring littoral habitat within the Ocean County Park waterbodies.

The Duck Pond living shorelines contain a variety of native plants that filter rainwater runoff, create and improve habitat for aquatic animals, improve water quality, and protect the shoreline from erosion.

All of us here at Princeton Hydro extend our warmest congratulations to Cory for his remarkable achievements!

To learn more about Princeton Hydro’s environmental design and restoration services and check out recent projects, visit us here.

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Princeton Hydro Natural Resource Management Project Manager Johnny Quispe worked with a group of experts to author a peer-reviewed study, titled “A Socio-ecological Imperative for Broadening Participation in Coastal and Estuarine Research and Management.” This compelling and important study was recently published as an open-source article in Estuaries and Coasts, the journal of the Coastal Estuarine Research Federation.

In the article, the authors put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in scientific disciplines, and describe the urgency of building a diverse and inclusive workforce in coastal and estuarine science specifically. The study provides overview of this inequity and identifies how a scientific society can and must catalyze representational, structural, and interactional diversity to achieve greater inclusion. The study states:

Needed changes go beyond representational diversity and require an intentional commitment to build capacity through inclusivity and community engagement by supporting anti-racist policies and actions… Our vision couples the importance of workforce representation for the communities we serve with an effort to use inclusion and diversity initiatives as a mechanism for social justice and to address institutionalized racism, which is deeply rooted in the geosciences… Professional societies, as institutional actors, can play a key role in dismantling racism and broadening participation in science… We contend that scientific societies can be natural agents of positive change in this regard and that they have an obligation to do so… Such work is not only long overdue and essential to estuarine and coastal science and management, but it is also a moral imperative.

[caption id="attachment_8890" align="aligncenter" width="2000"]A Socio-ecological Imperative for Broadening Participation in Coastal and Estuarine Research and Management The above shows U.S. county averages of racial and ethnic composition in  coastal vs. non-coastal areas (Chart A) and shoreline vs. non-shoreline areas (Chart B). Data source: US Census Bureau (2019) and NOAA (2021). [/caption]

Also illustrated in the study is the disparity between the racial and ethnic composition of coastal and shoreline areas and the racial and ethnic characteristics of ocean science graduates. Nearly across the board, average populations of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans are higher (sometimes substantially) in U.S. coastal and shoreline areas than non-coastal and non-shoreline areas. Yet, STEM degree programs and occupations in the U.S. and globally continue to significantly lack demographic diversity. Furthermore, as the study states:

“Without a marked increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of students obtaining geoscience degrees, all science fields including coastal sciences risk losing the capacity to do the best science and to design the best policy. By championing equitable representation of underrepresented groups in geosciences, coastal communities will better innovate in the face of a changing climate and thus a changing coastal system.

Estuaries and Coasts published the study as an open-source article, which means it’s available to read in-full for anyone interested in taking a deeper dive into this important subject matter. Click here to read the full article.

The following individuals worked together to author the study:
  • J. Quispe, Princeton Hydro and Rutgers University Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution
  • L.A. Harris, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • T. Grayson, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • H.A. Neckles, US Geological Survey, Eastern Ecological Science Center
  • C.T. Emrich, School of Public Administration, National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida
  • K.A. Lewis, Department of Biology, National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida
  • K.W. Grimes, Center for Marine & Environmental Studies, University of the Virgin Islands
  • S. Williamson, National Association of Counties
  • C. Garza, School of Natural Sciences, California State University, Monterey Bay
  • C.R. Whitcraft, Biological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach
  • J. Beseres Pollack, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • D.M. Talley, Environmental and Ocean Sciences, University of San Diego
  • B. Fertig, Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
  • C.M. Palinkas, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • S. Park, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation
  • J.M.P. Vaudrey, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut
  • A.M. Fitzgerald, Biology Department, New Jersey City University

Johnny Quispe, Princeton Hydro’s Natural Resource Management Project Manager, is a Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers University’s Graduate Program of Ecology and Evolution completing his dissertation on the effects of sea level rise on coastal ecosystems and communities. At Princeton Hydro, Johnny integrates social, economic, engineering, and natural systems into his projects to make coastal communities more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. 

To learn more about Johnny Quispe, go here. And, for more information about Princeton Hydro's Natural Resource Management services, click here.

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The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) launched a Youth Inclusion Initiative to help the State of New Jersey develop the next generation of environmental protection, conservation and stewardship leaders while also providing an avenue for young adults from open space-constrained communities to engage with nature as they provide valuable stewardship services to the public through jobs at NJDEP. 

This year, the youth inclusion program is partnering with Groundwork Elizabeth, Rutgers University Camden, and Newark’s Ironbound Community Corporation to create a workforce development curriculum for people ages 17 to 24. Groundwork Elizabeth sent 12 participants to this year’s program, and Rutgers Camden and the Ironbound Community Corporation each sent 10.

[caption id="attachment_11299" align="aligncenter" width="771"] Photo by NJDEP[/caption]

The curriculum provides career education in the environmental protection field and helps the young participants develop the skills necessary to pursue those career paths in New Jersey. Participants learn through classroom instruction and by working across sectors regulated by the NJDEP, including water resources, air quality, energy and sustainability, public lands management, and wildlife. 

Susan Lockwood of NJDEP’s Division of Land Resource Protection’s Mitigation Unit reached out to Princeton Hydro to showcase ecosystem restoration and mitigation efforts across the state as well as discuss the variety of career roles that make these projects possible. Our portion of the curriculum entailed each group of students visiting two sites to learn about the benefits of restoring a landscape with native vegetation. Our discussion explored different fields of work related to urban environmental restoration and water resource protection and the job responsibilities of environmental scientists, water resource engineers, geologists, ecologists, pesticide applicators, and regulatory compliance specialists. 

The Abbott Marshlands in Trenton, New Jersey

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After a quick stop at NJDEP’s office in Trenton to learn about NJ invasive species, all three groups popped over to the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Mercer County’s John A. Roebling Park to see the restoration site in the Abbott Marshlands. The 3,000-acre Abbott Marshlands 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. Unfortunately, the area has experienced a significant amount of loss and degradation, partially due to the introduction of the invasive Common Reed (Phragmites australis). For Mercer County Park Commission, Princeton Hydro implemented a restoration plan to remove Common Reed and expose the native seed bank in 40-acres of the marsh to increase biodiversity, improve recreational opportunities, and enhance visitor experience. Students learned how to tell the difference between the invasive Common Reed vs. native Wild Rice (Zizania palustris L.). They utilized tools of the trade like field guides and binoculars to identify flora and fauna in the marsh. Learn more about this project.


Mullica River Wetland Mitigation Site in Evesham, New Jersey

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After visiting the Roebling site, students from Camden traveled down to Evesham Township in Burlington County to visit the Mullica River Wetland Mitigation Site. For this project, Princeton Hydro worked with GreenVest, LLC to restore a highly degraded 34-acre parcel of land which was previously used for cranberry cultivation. Through the implementation of restoration activities focused on removing the site’s agricultural infrastructure, Princeton Hydro and GreenVest were able to restore a natural wetland system on the site and over 1,600 linear feet of stream, providing forested, scrub-shrub, and emergent wetlands, forested uplands, headwater stream and riparian buffer, and critical wildlife habitat. The project also significantly uplifted threatened and endangered species habitats including Timber Rattlesnake.

Susan Lockwood of NJDEP, Owen McEnroe of GreenVest, and Dana Patterson of Princeton Hydro, lead the group of 10 students. They learned the difference between restoration and mitigation and got to experience the remoteness of Pinelands habitat. Walking through the site, we shared how the dam and dike removal helped to restore the river back to its natural free-flowing state and the numerous resulting environmental benefits.The site was chosen for the Camden students in order to demonstrate that successful mitigation and restoration projects happen throughout the State and not far from urban centers like Camden. Learn more about this project.


3. Third River Floodplain Wetland Enhancement Project in Bloomfield, New Jersey

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After visiting the Roebling site, students from Newark and Elizabeth trekked up to Essex County to visit an urban wetland creation project now known as Lion Gate Park. The once densely developed, abandoned Scientific Glass Factory in Bloomfield Township was transformed into a thriving public park with 4.2 acres of wetlands. Students heard the story of how this project came to be; decades of advocacy and litigation by community members and environmental nonprofits to stop redevelopment of the site into 148 townhomes. Bloomfield Township eventually secured the property to preserve as open space through a range of grants from NJDEP. Serving as the ecological engineer to Bloomfield Township, Princeton Hydro designed, permitted, and oversaw construction for the restoration project and is currently monitoring the site. The restoration work brought back to the land valuable ecological functions and natural floodplain connection, enhanced aquatic and wildlife habitat, and increased flood storage capacity for urban stormwater runoff. Learn more about this project.


 

The NJDEP Youth Inclusion Initiative began on July 5 with a week of orientation classes, and continued through August with classroom and in-field learning. The initiative culminates on August 26 with a graduation and NJDEP Career Day, during which students will have the opportunity to meet with and discuss career options with various organizations tabling at the event, including Princeton Hydro.

Click here to learn more about the NJDEP education program. If you’re interested in learning more about Princeton Hydro’s ecological restoration services, click here.

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