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Volunteers Spruce Up Rain Gardens at Clawson Park

Posted on July 09, 2019 by Princeton Hydro
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In the late 1920s, the U.S. government began allocating funds for road construction in U.S. national forests. This led to hundreds of thousands of culverts being built and installed across the country for the purpose of moving water quickly and efficiently underneath the roadways to prevent flooding, minimize erosion, and provide pathways for stormwater.

However, culverts have had an unintended and significant consequence: they block the migration routes of some fish and aquatic organisms.

Culverts that are undersized, improperly placed, or designed with smooth featureless surfaces can impede or totally block fish and aquatic species from passing. Culverts with extremely high velocity flows make it incredibly difficult for aquatic organisms to navigate upstream, and extremely low velocity flows make it hard for fish to pass in either direction. The high-velocity flows can erode the stream channel immediately downstream of the culvert, which can leave the culvert pipe perched. This elevation above the water channel makes it impossible for organisms to pass through. Debris can also collect in the culvert, not only blocking fish passage, but water as well.

In addition to blocking the upstream passage of fish and other aquatic species, some culverts disrupt the normal stream movements of some macroinvertebrates, which are key components of these stream ecosystems, an important food source to countless species, and play a critical role in the cycling of energy and nutrients throughout stream ecosystems. Disruptions to the movement and dispersal of stream macroinvertebrates can reduce available habitat, lead to genetic isolation of some populations, and cause extirpation of critical species. When populations splinter, it causes a reduction in genetic diversity, which can lead to the spread of more invasive species and many other ecological issues.

[caption id="attachment_12565" align="aligncenter" width="411"] Diagram created by NOAA Fisheries[/caption]  

While culverts serve an important function in road construction and flood prevention, their impact on aquatic organisms must be taken into consideration. Finding solutions that both allow for efficient water flow and enable safe aquatic migration is crucial in preserving the health of our waterways and their ecosystems.


Addressing outdated, unsafe, and obsolete culverts

A shift in the 1980s recognized the importance of redesigning road-stream crossings for several reasons, including restoring aquatic organism passage and maintaining flood resilience. Between 2008 and 2015, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) partnered with more than 200 organizations in the Legacy Roads and Trails Program to replace 1,000+ culverts across the country. The aim of the program was to upgrade culverts to emulate natural streams and to allow fish and wildlife to pass more naturally both upstream and downstream.

Replacing culverts with structures that better facilitate the movement of both water and aquatic organisms has benefits beyond restoring critical ecosystems and improving biodiversity. Ecological restoration creates jobs, stimulates outdoor recreation and local economic activity, and generates long-term economic value.

Princeton Hydro has a strong history in designing connectivity-friendly road-stream crossings and restoring/replacing outdated culverts. Our team of engineers and scientists has been directly involved with hundreds of stream and ecosystem restoration projects throughout the Northeast.

For several years, Princeton Hydro has partnered with NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) to plan and design for aquatic connectivity through climate-ready infrastructure. Created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) at the request of the governors of New York and New Jersey, HEP develops and implements plans that protect, conserve and restore the estuary, and aquatic connectivity is a key focus area for HEP and its partners.

Most recently, HEP partnered with Princeton Hydro to address hydraulic capacity issues at priority road-stream crossings in New Jersey’s South River and Lower Raritan River watersheds. The Princeton Hydro team developed a 30% engineering plan for a priority road-stream crossing – the Birch Street crossing over the Iresick Brook in Old Bridge, NJ.


Iresick Brook Culvert Restoration

Iresick Brook is upstream from Duhernal Lake, located at the end of the free-flowing South River, which feeds into the Raritan River, and ultimately flows into Raritan Bay. Duhernal Lake is dammed at the outlet so there is little to no connectivity downstream from the Iresick Brook sub-watershed. The watershed is highly dendritic (meaning the drainage pattern follows a tree-like shape) with many small streams running through it, some of them ephemeral.

The Iresick Brook 5 (IB5) culvert, located in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, is an undersized double culvert in poor condition with an eroding streambank. This culvert was chosen as a restoration priority primarily due its inadequate sizing (both pipes are only 3-feet in diameter). The outdated infrastructure blocks the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms, and it can only accommodate a 50-year storm event.

Once the IB5 culvert was identified as the priority site, Princeton Hydro completed a site investigation, which included a geomorphic assessment, site observations, and simplified site survey of the channel alignment, profile, and cross sections both upstream and downstream of the culvert.

At the time of the survey, flow was only a couple inches deep in the channel and incredibly slow-moving, especially in the upstream reach. Despite the low flow at the time of the survey, during storm events, the stream experiences extremely high velocities. The undersized culvert creates hydraulic constriction and subsequently a velocity barrier that prevents passage. Additionally, when the high-flow stream water is forced through the small pipes, it creates a firehose effect, which has led to the formation of a 60-foot-long scour hole at the culvert outlet. Substrate from the scour hole has been washed downstream, forming an island of large sand and small gravel.

Approximately 155 feet upstream of the culvert is a channel-spanning v-notch weir comprised of a combination of sheet pile and timber. The weir appears to be a historical stream gauge that is highly degraded and creates an artificially perched channel. The upstream channel also contains woody debris, which gets caught at the culvert, blocking water flow and organism passage.

For the design process, Princeton Hydro used the USFS Stream Simulation Design, an gold-standard ecosystem-based approach for designing and constructing road-stream crossings that provide unimpeded fish and other aquatic organism passage through the structure. The Stream Simulation, a required standard on USFS road projects, integrates fluvial geomorphology concepts and methods with engineering principles to design a road-stream crossing that contains a natural and dynamic channel through the structure so that fish and other aquatic organisms will experience no greater difficulty moving through the structure than if the crossing did not exist.

The design also incorporated utility constraints (gas line, sewer line, drinking water main, and stormwater outlet), a longitudinal profile assessment, channel capacity and slope analysis, and a simplified hydrologic & hydraulic assessment.

Ultimately, Princeton Hydro recommended that HEP replace the existing culvert with a Contech Precast O-321 culvert, or similar alternative. The proposed design increases the culvert opening area and allows for significant increases in flow capacity. This culvert replacement project has the potential to reduce local flood risk and restore aquatic organism passage to the reach of Iresick Brook.

To get a more detailed look at the IB5 culvert project and learn more about HEP and its partnership with Princeton Hydro, click below for a full presentation from Isabelle Stinnette of HEP and Jake Dittes, PE of Princeton Hydro: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-qbV9EG9Ss[/embed]

Prioritizing Culvert Restoration

Aquatic connectivity is crucial for improving healthy aquatic ecosystems and managing severe storms and flooding. Increases in rainfall due to climate change makes investing in these improvements even more of a growing priority. With so many culverts in place, it can be difficult to know which culvert restoration projects to prioritize.

We worked with HEP to create a toolkit for addressing problematic road-stream crossings. The easy-to-use matrix helps to prioritize potential projects and identify solutions for problem culverts and relative cost solutions.

The toolkit was just recently released to the public with the hope that it will be used as a template to promote the development of more resilient and environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

Click here to get more info and download.

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Ecological restoration work is underway in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is celebrated as America's First Urban Refuge. Friends of Heinz Refuge hired Princeton Hydro and teammates Enviroscapes and Merestone Consultants to provide engineering design, environmental compliance, engineering oversight, and construction implementation to enhance and restore aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitats and adjacent uplands within the Turkey Foot area of the Refuge.

About the Refuge

The Turkey Foot project area is an approximately 7.5-acre site within the greater 1,200-acre John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, which is located within the City of Philadelphia and neighboring Tinicum Township in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, about one-half mile north of Philadelphia International Airport.

The Refuge protects approximately 200 acres of the last remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania and represents an important migratory stopover along the Atlantic Flyway, a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in North America. It also provides protected breeding habitat for State-listed threatened and endangered species, as well as many neotropical migrants, such as the American Bittern, Least Bittern, Black-crowned Night-heron, King Rail, Great Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, and Sedge Wren.

[caption id="attachment_11775" align="aligncenter" width="732"] Photo of a Least Bittern taken in the Refuge by Princeton Hydro Vice President Mark Gallagher[/caption]  

The Refuge was established for the purposes of preserving, restoring, and developing the natural area known as Tinicum Marsh, as well as to provide an environmental education center for its visitors. The Refuge contains a variety of ecosystems unique in Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia metropolitan area, including tidal and non-tidal freshwater marshes, freshwater tidal creeks, open impoundment waters, coastal plain forests, and early successional grasslands. Although many of the Refuge’s ecosystems have been degraded, damaged, or, in some cases, destroyed as a result of numerous historic impacts dating back to the mid-17th century, many of these impacted ecosystems have the potential to be restored or enhanced through various management and restoration efforts.

 

Turkey Foot Ecological Restoration Project

The Turkey Foot project area is an example of one of the historically impacted ecosystems at the Refuge with tremendous opportunity for ecological restoration. The Friends of Heinz Refuge and the project team are working to restore and enhance the aquatic habitats, wetlands, riparian buffers, and adjacent uplands within the project area.

The approach for the restoration project focuses on creating approximately four acres of contiguous wetland habitat bordered by a functional riparian buffer. The design includes the creation of three habitat zones: intertidal marsh, high marsh, and upland grassland.

[caption id="attachment_11774" align="aligncenter" width="1072"] Illustration of the Turkey Foot Conceptual Design identifying the three proposed habitat areas and the project area.
Conceptual Design created by Princeton Hydro.[/caption]  

Incorporating the three elements into the landscape will help to establish foraging, breeding, and nesting habitat for critical wildlife species, including Eastern Black Rail, a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The project work also includes a robust invasive species management plan, aimed at removing close to 100% of the invasive species, supported by an adaptive management monitoring program that will guide the development of the restored site towards the ultimate goal of establishing a diverse and productive coastal ecosystem within the Turkey Foot project area.

The upland slopes of the high marsh were seeded earlier this year, which will help to establish a grassland dominated by native warm season grasses. Native shrubs and flowering plants were also installed, including little bluestem, switchgrass, Virginia wild rye, asters, goldenrods, and bergamot. And, coastal panic grass was seeded, which is another Pennsylvania-listed endangered species, and, once grown-in, will provide suitable stopover foraging and cover for migratory land birds and pollinators.

The team also completed site grading to increase tidal flushing within the Turkey Foot’s two ponds, create intertidal and high marsh wetlands, prevent stagnant water and nutrient accumulation in bottom sediments, and reduce the reestablishment of invasive species. The bottom of the existing ponds were raised to elevations that support the establishment of intertidal marsh. The pond banks were then regraded to create the appropriate elevations for freshwater intertidal marsh and high marsh. Additionally, the tidally influenced connection points between the two ponds and the linear channel were enlarged.

Refuge Manager Lamar Gore recently visited the Turkey Foot project site and interviewed Deputy Refuge Manager, Mariana Bergerson, and Princeton Hydro Director of Restoration and Resilience, Christiana Pollack, about the progress made thus far and what's to come. Watch now:

 

Upcoming Restoration Activities

In Spring of 2023, the team will install a wide variety of native wetland plant species plugs and continue its work to restore the riparian buffer habitats within the Turkey Foot project area. The high marsh will be planted with a mix of native coastal plain wetland species, including fine-stemmed emergent plants, primarily rushes and grasses, with high stem densities and dense canopy cover, using species such as chairmaker's bulrush, river bulrush, blue flag, and rice cutgrass. The installation of river bulrush, a Pennsylvania-listed rare species, will provide beneficial wildlife habitat and serve to expand the range of this species in Pennsylvania. Additionally, restoring the high marsh will create the foundation for establishing Black Rail habitat and giving the threatened species protection from predators and opportunities to glean insects and other invertebrates from the ground and water.

The restoration and enhancement of riparian buffer habitats will reduce sedimentation and lower pond temperatures, improving water quality for native fish and invertebrates. Riparian buffers also filter nutrients in runoff and deter eutrophication of the ponds, and provide high quality food sources for native and migratory species, unlike the invasive species which provide low nutrient value foods.

[gallery link="none" ids="11773,11772,11770"]  

Please stay tuned to our blog for more project updates once the plantings have been completed in the Spring, as well as before and after photos once the plants are established. To read more about Princeton Hydro's robust natural resource management and restoration services, click here.

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Spring is here! We kicked-off the new growing year with a live "Ask Me Anything" Spring Gardening conversation via Facebook.

Princeton Hydro Landscape Architects and Expert Green Thumbs Jamie Feinstein, RLA and Cory Speroff, PLA, ASLA, CBLP provided participants with all sorts of gardening tips and tricks, including:

  • How to properly plan out your garden space
  • Choosing native plants that complement each other
  • Starting seedlings
  • Preparing your outdoor beds
  • Native edible plants to consider
  • Transplanting from pot to garden

Our Communications Intern Andrea Rojas led the Q&A conversation, and Jamie and Cory fielded a variety of questions from the audience, including some about soil testing, installing a rain garden, and choosing the best mulch. 

If you missed it, have no fear - we recorded the session. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for gardening!


If you're interested in learning more about installing a rain garden in your yard, please check out our recent blog: How To Build a Rain Garden in 10 Steps.

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According to American Rivers, “more than 90,000 dams in the country are no longer serving the purpose that they were built to provide decades or centuries ago.” As these dams age and decay, they can become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and flooding danger. Dams can also be environmental hazards, blocking the movement of fish and other aquatic species, inundating river habitat, impairing water quality, and altering the flow necessary to sustain river life.

Removing nonfunctional, outdated dams has myriad ecological benefits. Dam removal can improve water quality, restore a river back to its natural flowing state, reconnect river habitats that benefit fish and wildlife, and significantly increase biodiversity for the surrounding watershed.

Removing Dams in Lehigh Valley

For over a decade, Princeton Hydro has partnered with Wildlands Conservancy to remove dams in the Lehigh River Valley. Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust in eastern Pennsylvania, works to restore degraded stream and wildlife habitat with a primary focus on Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh River watershed, which is a 1,345 square mile drainage area that eventually flows into the Delaware River.

Wildlands Conservancy contracted Princeton Hydro to design and permit the removal of two dams on the Little Lehigh Creek. Although it is referred to as the “Little Lehigh,” the 24-mile creek is the largest tributary of the Lehigh River. The dam removals restored the natural stream system, which hadn’t flowed freely in over a century.

Princeton Hydro also worked with Wildlands Conservancy to remove several barriers and three consecutive low-head dams on Jordan Creek, a tributary of the Little Lehigh Creek. Jordan Creek arises from a natural spring on Blue Mountain, and eventually joins the Little Lehigh in Allentown before flowing into the Lehigh River. It drains an area of 75.8 square miles.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12050,12053"] As part of the dam and barrier removal projects, Princeton Hydro: - Conducted dam and site investigations; - Oversaw structural, topographic, and bathymetric field surveys and base mapping; - Performed geomorphic assessments and sediment characterization to predict river response to dam removals and develop appropriate sediment management plans; - Performed hydrologic and hydraulic analysis to predict changes in river hydraulics; - Evaluated and addressed technical issues unique to each barrier; - Coordinated with regulatory agencies and entities; - Participated in community informational meetings; - Developed engineering design plans, documents, and permit application submissions; - Developed construction cost estimates for implementing the removal of the dams and streambank stabilization; and - Performed construction oversight during implementation.

Collectively, these dam and barrier removal projects on the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek reconnected 15+ miles of river; restored fish passage; improved aquatic connectivity, fisheries, and benthic macroinvertebrate and wildlife habitats; reduced nonpoint source stormwater pollution; improved water quality; addressed vulnerable infrastructure; enhanced climate resiliency; and stabilized and restored the creeks’ channels and banks.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="12043,12054"]

Upcoming Conservation Efforts

Building upon the successes of the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creek barrier removals, Princeton Hydro is again partnering with Wildlands Conservancy to remove three consecutive dams on Bushkill Creek in Easton, PA. The dam removal projects, which are slated for 2023, are part of a large-scale effort, involving a significant number of community and municipal partners, focused on restoring Bushkill Creek and the surrounding watershed.

The Bushkill Creek is a 22-mile long limestone stream that is designated as a “high quality, cold-water fishery.” It supports healthy populations of trout, and is treasured by anglers and the surrounding community as an important resource in an urban environment, spanning several boroughs and townships, eventually flowing into the Delaware River at Easton.

Environmental protection and restoration is a key goal of removing the dams. Removing these barriers will allow important migratory fish species to reach their spawning grounds once again, which has numerous and far-reaching ecological benefits. The project work also includes stabilizing the streambank, planting, and expanding riparian buffers, planting native trees and shrubs to filter runoff, and installing in-stream structures to restore fish habitat.

Stay tuned for more updates in 2023!

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen the reconstruction, repair, and removal of over 60 of small and large dams in the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here. To learn more about Wildlands Conservancy, click here.

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The Former New Jersey Pulverizing Tract, located in Ocean County, is fundamentally a degraded landscape created by nearly a century of sand and gravel extraction.

[gallery columns="2" link="none" ids="11999,11998"]

Despite the site’s disturbance history, the 782-acre area has abundant natural character and enormous ecological and recreational potential. In 2016, using funds from the Natural Lands Trust, Ocean County purchased the sand and gravel quarry with the goal of restoring the land to incorporate ecological improvements, extending public trails access to (and through) the site, and establishing a long-term landscape design lending itself to sustainable, cost-effective stewardship as a key Natural Lands Trust preserve.

With so much ecological restoration potential it was difficult to know exactly where to start. For several years, staff representing Ocean County Department of Planning and Ocean County Department of Parks & Recreation considered a variety of restoration alternatives. Then in 2021, the County hired Princeton Hydro and Strauss & Associates/Planners to develop a comprehensive Conservation Management Plan to help guide Ocean County’s decision-making process and prioritize restoration efforts.


Developing the Plan

Before a strategic conservation plan could be developed for the site, the team needed to have a deep understanding of the history, characteristics, and existing conditions of the land. A review of the title, survey, and legal encumbrances was performed as a measure of planning due diligence. Princeton Hydro also conducted a water quality assessment; hydrologic monitoring; pollutant loading and hydrology modeling; fishery survey; detailed geology analysis and soil sampling; wetland delineation; and flora and fauna inventory.

The team found that, with the exception of a forest perimeter buffer, nearly all land within the site was degraded from nine decades of continuous sand and gravel extraction. The mined land was lowered substantially in base elevation, resulting in a bowl-like landscape of exposed and compacted soils, a sterile 42-acre lake, mining roads, ATV tracks, steep slopes, ruts, and soil piles.

These findings inform the plan’s ecological design recommendations, and confirm the site’s fundamental resilience, restoration potential, public access opportunities, and scientific and interpretative value. With the initial testing and analysis complete, the team could develop an informed and comprehensive plan that balances active and passive efforts to transition the Pulverizing site from a sand pit to a unique Natural Lands Trust preserve.


Focusing & Structuring Conservation Efforts

For the Princeton Hydro team, the approach to the project was not just focused on developing a management plan for a depleted mining site, but to truly believe in the land’s restoration potential and imagine a thriving multi-purpose park within a restored landscape.

The team developed a Conservation Management Plan that presents a composite view for land restoration as a mosaic of open water, wetland, emergent meadow, grassland, and forest linked by miles of new recreational trails, and is derivative of two overarching goals: First, provide ecological uplift; and second, provide an extensive system of passive recreational public access.

In the plan, the site’s public access system combines 8.1 miles of pedestrian paths and multi-use bicycle trails that connect with the County’s Barnegat Branch Trail, an existing 15.6-mile regional facility that runs for 1.4 miles through the Pulverizing site’s eastern reach. The plan also contains a unique 3-mile water trail that connects existing dead-end mining channels through a series of excavated shallow cuts. The water trail unlocks a range of paddling routes that offer kayakers and canoeists unequaled access to restored and protected ponds, wetlands, fishing and picnicking coves, and terrestrial zones, including birding meadows and oak-pine forests.

Ecologically speaking, the plan’s design recommendations complement ongoing natural processes while working to correct and naturalize significant impairments. The ecological uplift activities presented in the plan focus on restoring the land’s wetlands, streams, and topography that were lost to excavation, and strengthening the native plant community to help increase biodiversity and increase natural floodplain and stormwater management function.


The Conservation Management Plan was driven by the following six objectives:

1. PRESERVE WHAT IS BENEFICIAL.

Protect the best examples of existing upland and wetland plant communities. The site contains a range of productive native plants representative of the New Jersey pinelands and Barnegat Bay Watershed. The plan identifies and extends protection to these localized communities.

2. CREATE AND REPLACE WHAT IS DAMAGED.

Rebuild native plant communities through the introduction of wetland littoral zones and benched terrestrial habitat. Decades of mineral extraction and misuse have resulted in denuded, desert-like zones. The plan draws on pineland ecological analogs to reestablish native plant communities.

3. RE-ESTABLISH HYDROLOGIC CONNECTIONS.

Restore the site’s hydrologic connections to both pinelands and Barnegat Bay areas. The plan contains a range of treatments to restore and expand wetlands and open water, reconnect the native fishery, and diversify aquatic and terrestrial habitat.

4. BUILD AN INTERCONNECTED TRAIL SYSTEM.

The plan establishes a hierarchy of pedestrian and bike trails enabling public access to all corners of the site and connecting the site to the Barnegat Branch Trail. As a premier Natural Lands Trust preserve the restored Pulverizing site will attract bicyclists from trail towns including Toms River, Beachwood, Bayville, Forked River, Waretown, Barnegat and beyond.

5. EXPAND WATER TRAILS FOR KAYAK AND CANOE ACCESS.

Surface water connections will be enhanced by excavating a series of waterways and emergent wetland habitat. The plan links the existing radiating lagoon fingers to one-another and to the 42-acre lake. The new connections will improve circumferential paddling routes, backcountry destinations, habitat protection and management.

6. INCREASE ECOLOGICAL UPLIFT THROUGH COST-EFFECTIVE CONSTRUCTION.

The plan recognizes that – ecologically speaking – nearly everything required for long-term success is already on-site, including hydrology, native plant communities, and seed stock. There is limited need for imported material, fertilization, or complex engineering. Although the site is significantly degraded, the plan incorporates a substantial amount of habitat preservation and limits most earthmoving activities to the area around the main lake.

[caption id="attachment_12000" align="aligncenter" width="854"] Denuded ATV washboard area trying to become an emergent wetland, East of the Barnegat Branch Trail at the former NJ Pulverizing Tract[/caption]

Moving Forward & Implementing the Plan

The effort to transition the former NJ Pulverizing Tract from a modified mining pit to a Natural Lands Trust preserve is multi-faceted. This conceptual plan estimates a 5- to 7-year timeline and suggests using a phased approach for preliminary and final design, permitting, and construction that capitalizes on existing hydrology, creates, and restores damaged habitat areas, and lays the foundation for the land and water trail system. Ocean County has not formally endorsed the Conservation Management Plan and next steps will dependent on available funding and prioritization by the County. The following steps are proposed:

1. A thorough review of Comprehensive Management Plan by Commissioners and key departments; 2. Completion of special design area studies with additional key department review; 3. Preparation of phased development plan, integration with Barnegat Branch Trail construction; 4. Scheduling of permit pre-application meetings with NJDEP; 5. Completion of a topographical survey, site plans, preliminary engineering, and utility coordination; 6. Development of cost estimates and material requirements for construction; 7. Review and adoption of financial plans for construction phases; 8. Preparation of final engineering plans and bid specifications for construction; 9. Issuance of regulatory permits for phased work; and 10. Publication of bid, award, and issuance of contractor Notice to Proceed for construction.


The former NJ Pulverizing Tract offers exciting opportunities to apply adaptive and restorative design in furtherance of ecological and public access objectives among the incredibly diverse 782-acres. Restoration, preservation, and stabilization of the mine landscape will provide a diverse and continuously changing experience to visitors of all ages and interests. As a jewel in the necklace of the Natural Land Trust system, the site shall enrich the natural resource base, provide a mind-changing visitor experience, and reinforce the prescience of forward-thinking officials at Ocean County who embarked on, and advanced, the objective of acquiring and restoring an abandoned sand and gravel quarry. Princeton Hydro is proud be a part of this unique site’s transformation.

[gallery link="none" ids="12006,12005,12003"] Please stay tuned to our blog for project updates. And, to read about another ecological restoration project Princeton Hydro is working on in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, click below: [visual-link-preview encoded="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"] [post_title] => Transforming a Mining Site into a Natural Lands Trust Preserve & Public Park [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => former-new-jersey-pulverizing-tract-restoration [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-01-04 15:29:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-01-04 15:29:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=11995 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10534 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2022-03-30 08:22:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-03-30 08:22:06 [post_content] =>

River herring are diadromous fish, which means they migrate between fresh and salt water. On Long Island in Nassau, New York, they migrate between Mill Pond Creek and the ocean, using Bellmore Creek as a highway. The river herring live much of their adult life in the ocean and travel to the freshwaters of Mill Pond Creek in order to spawn.

There is a dam located at the point where Bellmore Creek meets Mill Pond. When the water level isn’t high enough, the river herring can be blocked from swimming upstream to reach their spawning habitat. This not only has negative implications for river herring species, it also negatively impacts the entire ecosystem. The herring are a vital food source for countless other fish, birds and animals, and play a critical role in transferring marine derived nutrients into surrounding estuarine, freshwater and upland habitats.

River Herring have been documented at the base of the dam at Mill Pond for the past several migration seasons. Bellmore Creek is one of only two-dozen streams on Long Island where remnant runs of this ecologically valuable, diadromous fish still exist.

In 2018, Seatuck Environmental Association, a nonprofit dedicated to wildlife conservation on Long Island, was awarded the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources Grant for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency to design a fish passage at the dam intersecting Mill Pond and Bellmore Creek. Seatuck contracted Princeton Hydro to design the fish passage options.

The project goals not only include increasing river herring spawning habitat, but also are focused on improving the ecological condition of Bellmore Creek, maintaining and enhancing recreational values, and improving site resiliency to climate change and sea level rise.

To provide guidance on the project, Seatuck assembled an advisory committee with representation from Nassau County (dam owner), New York State Office of Parks, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Nassau County Soil and Water District, Town of Hempstead, the South Shore Estuary Reserve, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, South Shore Audubon, and the Bellmore Civic Association.

Princeton Hydro conducted a study to understand the feasibility of enhancing fish passage to Mill Pond. The initial site investigation, in November 2020, included sediment probing and sampling, and a thorough assessment of the existing dam, spillway, water pipes, bridges and upper reaches.  [gallery ids="10580,10579,10581"]   Based on its findings, the Princeton Hydro team developed three design options to restore fish passage:
  1. A nature-like fishway, where a channel made of boulders and concrete is constructed through the dam to mimic a natural, steep stream;
  2. A technical fishway, where a pre-fabricated metal fish ladder is placed within the spillway to allow fish to swim up and into the pond; and
  3. A full or partial dam removal, where the spillway is fully or partially removed and the pond is restored to a free-flowing stream and wetland complex.

On June 8 2021, Seatuck, Nassau County and Princeton Hydro held a virtual meeting to get the public’s input on each of the fish passage designs. Emily Hall, Conservation Policy Advocate for Seatuck, also put together an informative presentation in which she provides a synopsis of Bellmore Creek's history, describes the project goals, and discusses the community engagement process and the results of the public opinion survey. Watch it now:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvdWsI_3MIU[/embed]

Additionally, Princeton Hydro completed a site investigation including topographic survey, sediment probing and sampling, and assessment of structures to identify project opportunities and site constraints. Sediment sampling and analysis indicated no major concerns with contamination. By performing analysis of the longitudinal profile, Princeton Hydro determined that the full dam removal (option 3 listed above) was not recommended due to the potential for initiating uncontrolled channel incision below the original river grade into Mill Pond and upstream reaches.

Ultimately, the technical fish ladder (option 2 listed above) was chosen as the most appropriate solution for restoring fish passage to Mill Pond and maintaining existing recreational values. Princeton Hydro is currently developing preliminary engineering design plans for this selected alternative as part of this phase of the project.

The focus on Bellmore Creek is just one of many projects included in Seatuck’s River Revival program, which has sought to clear similarly blocked waterways across Long Island. If you’re interested in learning more about Seatuck’s conservation work and getting involved, click here.

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen solutions for fish passage including the installation of technical and nature-like fishways and the removal of dozens of small and large dams throughout the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, click here and check out our blog:

[visual-link-preview encoded="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"] [post_title] => Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Project: Restoring Access to Critical Spawning Habitat [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bellmore-creek-fish-passage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-03-30 15:54:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-03-30 15:54:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://princetonhydro.com/?p=10534 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5472 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2020-10-05 15:02:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-10-05 15:02:11 [post_content] =>

The nonprofit Schuylkill River Greenways, in partnership with Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Stroud Water Research Center, and Princeton Hydro, is kicking off a Water Quality Monitoring Project for the Schuylkill River on World Habitat Day, Monday, October 5, 2020. This project, focused on the main stem of the river from Berks Nature in Reading to Bartram’s Garden in southwest Philadelphia, is aimed to document the current ecological status and health of the river and seeks to engage and educate a diverse set of river users and residents.

"An important aspect of our mission is to connect communities to the Schuylkill River through recreational and educational activities," said Tim Fenchel, Deputy Director of Schuylkill River Greenways. "To fully achieve the river’s potential, we must help the public understand the current health status and what they can do to continue to improve its quality for this generation and generations to come."

In order to monitor the presence and/or distribution of litter along the Schuylkill River, the team is launching a campaign to recruit “Community Scientists” to conduct 5-minute Visual Monitoring Assessments. Using their mobile device, these volunteers can simply record the trash accumulation or dumping points along a 100-foot section of the Schuylkill River via a user-friendly form accessed via a cell phone: bit.ly/litterform.

“Trash is important to address when talking about the health of a waterway because it’s often the most visually obvious form of pollution. Bacterial and chemical pollution are generally less directly observable, but when we see trash, it instantly informs our impression of a body of water,” said Chloe Wang, River Programs Coordinator at Bartram's Garden. “And, it can point to larger problems. For example, near Bartram’s Garden, a lot of trash washes into the river from combined sewer overflows, which also introduce harmful bacteria into the water. It will be interesting to see how the presence of trash differs along various stretches of the Schuylkill.”

The Community Scientist visual assessments require no formal training and are meant to be a simple effort that any resident can complete. We’ve developed an assessment survey, which can be accessed and submitted via a smartphone or tablet by opening the link in the phone/tablet’s browser.

“This is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in the Schuylkill River to spend time on the river and provide valuable feedback on the conditions of the river,” said David Bressler, Project Facilitator at Stroud Water Research Center. “Schuylkill River Greenways and its partners in this project are looking for motivated and dependable individuals to help them learn about the Schuylkill River and move in positive directions toward making the river more accessible to the community. Support from volunteers is very important and is greatly appreciated."

The goal is to document critical areas of trash accumulation or dumping points in order to guide management efforts to better deal with this pollution. In addition to the multiple-choice questions to rank trash levels and quantities, this platform asks volunteers to submit a photo of the area and collects the GPS location. By utilizing this user-friendly platform, the data collected under this effort will be summarized and visualized by the project team.

“This project is an important study that we can use to connect people back to the river and show that the Schuylkill River is a place to be enjoyed by the entire community surrounding it and beyond,” said Michael Griffith, Education & Watershed Specialist at Berks Nature.

In 1985 the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter and to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. By understanding and improving water quality in the Schuylkill River, we are creating a place that enables community members to access public green and open spaces. This effort also supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims for resilient, inclusive, safe, diverse cities by 2030.

In addition to the Community Scientist visual assessments, the stakeholder team is conducting water quality sampling and monitoring over the next year at four locations along the main stem of the Schuylkill River. This scientific documentation of critical water quality parameters will be performed by the stakeholder group’s employees and long term volunteers, who are trained in data collection and scientific methods. We will collect data on bacterial concentrations in the river using a combination of 3-M Petrifilm kits and laboratory-based analytical measures. In addition, in-situ temperature, oxygen, pH, and turbidity data will be collected utilizing Mayfly dataloggers.

"Our research shows that residents care about the river, but are not confident whether it is clean or safe to use for recreational activity. So we’ve designed a volunteer survey and scientific water quality assessment to document the ecological health of the Schuylkill River," said Michael Hartshorne, Aquatic Resources Project Manager at Princeton Hydro. "By studying bacterial inputs and identifying hotspots for trash, we can communicate the status of the river, provide recommendations on areas of improvement, and ultimately, change the current public perception of the river."

For the water quality monitoring, Princeton Hydro scientists will provide training to the partner nonprofit organizations’ staff and review the methods and protocols to assure the highest level of quality. This long-term data collection effort is slated to begin this month and continue for approximately one year. The results of this assessment will allow us to determine potential hotspots related to nutrient and bacteria inputs and to understand the overall ecological health of the Schuylkill River.

Overall, through this effort, the stakeholder team hopes to connect residents and communities with the Schuylkill River and to encourage engagement with this special resource.

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Photo by the American Littoral SocietyFor over 100 years, the Old Mill Pond Dam in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey has blocked critical anadromous fish species from reaching optimal spawning habitat. Today, we are thrilled to announce that, thanks to a fish ladder installed by the American Littoral Society (ALS), migratory fish can now scale the dam and access upstream spawning grounds.

The 60-foot-long fish ladder is a device that allows a channel of water to flow through it and is engineered to create both the proper water depth and velocity for fish to navigate through. In this case, it will enable fish to scale the 10-foot-high dam and go deeper into Wreck Pond Brook.

This video from ALS provides an up-close look at the Alaska-Steeppass Fish Ladder and more details about the project:

[embed]https://youtu.be/b6FyQTu23lM[/embed]

Re-opening river passage for migratory species improves not only the health of Wreck Pond Brook and its watershed, but it also benefits the overall ecosystem of the Atlantic shoreline and its coastal rivers. It also supports important recreational and commercial species, such as cod, haddock, and striped bass, which leads to a healthier economy.

For over a century, the dam blocked anadromous fish like Alewife and Blueback river herring, from entering the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. These fish spend most of their lives in the ocean but need freshwater in order to spawn. The Old Mill Pond Dam, an impassable obstruction for these migrating fish, was identified as a key contributor to the decline of Atlantic coast river herring populations. Subsequently, river herring were classified as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Species of Special Concern and identified as requiring Concentrated Conservation Actions.

Design rendering provided by the American Littoral SocietyThe fish ladder, which was funded through the US Fish and Wildlife Service and implemented by ALS along with a variety of project partners, including Princeton Hydro, is one more major step in the ongoing effort to restore critical migratory fish spawning grounds, support a vibrant food web to the area, and rehabilitate Wreck Pond and its watershed.

According to the ALS, “Now, instead of Old Mill Dam acting as the furthest migration destination for Alewife and Blueback river herring, these fish have the ability to navigate up the dam through the fish ladder and utilize roughly an additional mile of optimal spawning habitat. The ALS will add the Old Mill Dam fish ladder and newly accessible spawning habitat into its ongoing river herring monitoring surveys.”

American Littoral Society promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm, and empowers others to do the same. Learn more and get involved: littoralsociety.org.

Princeton Hydro has designed, permitted, and overseen solutions for fish passage including the installation of technical and nature-like fishways and the removal of dozens of small and large dams throughout the Northeast. To learn more about our fish passage and dam removal engineering services, visit: bit.ly/DamBarrier.

Images provided by the American Littoral Society. 

Photo by the American Littoral Society

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We are pleased to announce that the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) received the prestigious New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Award in the Environmental Education category for its innovative floating classroom program.

The LHF's floating classroom - a custom-built 40-foot education vessel, named ‘Study Hull’ - gives students an interactive, hands-on education experience to explore Lake Hopatcong, learn about freshwater ecology, and discuss how to protect the watershed.

During its maiden voyage field trip, which was held on May 21 2018, fourth-graders from Nixon Elementary and Kennedy Elementary schools utilized the boat’s laboratory instruments to study water hydrology, temperatures, plankton, and dissolved oxygen levels.Princeton Hydro helped the LHF design a teaching curriculum on water quality, and members of our team trained the LHF staff and volunteers on the curriculum and demonstrated various water quality monitoring techniques that could be conducted with the students.

The floating classroom is equipped with laboratory instruments on which the students can study water hydrology, temperatures, plankton, and dissolved oxygen levels. Course instructors assist students in performing tests and experiments designed to help them learn about the general health of the lake. They also discuss the impacts that stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollutants have on the lake, and how they can protect the lake’s water quality and be good stewards of the water.

The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations that demonstrate commitment and leadership on a variety of environmental issues, including environmental justice, climate change, sustainability, education, and protection of natural resources. The Governor's Award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the LHF and the educators who run the floating classroom. It is also a testament to the value of experiential learning and the importance of connecting young people to the natural world.

Chris L. Mikolajczyk, CLM, demonstrates to floating classroom participants how to use a Secchi Disks to determine the depth to which light is able to penetrate the water’s surface.“It’s really important to get kids interested in science at an early age and teach them about their surrounding environment – where their drinking water comes from, how it could possibly get polluted, the impacts that pollution then has on the lake’s ecosystem, and what steps can be made to protect the lake’s water quality," said Princeton Hydro Senior Aquatic Ecologist Chris L. Mikolajczyk, CLM, one of the team members responsible for developing the floating classroom curriculum. "We are proud to partner with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and extend to them our sincerest congratulations on receiving the Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for their innovative and unique floating classroom initiative. Well deserved!”

The 23rd Annual Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards were announced virtually by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. The video recording is available on DEP’s YouTube channel.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=yayIyRj9r3w&embeds_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fdep.nj.gov%2F&source_ve_path=MzY4NDIsMjg2NjI&feature=emb_logo[/embed]

Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey's largest lake, has one of the longest, continuous, long-term ecological databases in New Jersey; almost 30 years of consistently collected water quality data. The data is crucial in assessing the overall health of the lake and proactively guiding its management, identifying and addressing emerging threats, documenting project success, and confirming compliance with New Jersey State Water Quality standards.

The LHF works to foster a vibrant and healthy Lake Hopatcong and its surrounding community through a variety of programs and initiatives in the areas of environment, education, community and historical preservation, public safety, recreation, and arts and culture. The LHF and Princeton Hydro are longtime partners with history dating back to 1983. Princeton Hydro’s recent work for Lake Hopatcong includes the implementation of green infrastructure stormwater management measures, installation of floating wetland islands to improve water quality, and invasive aquatic plant species management programs, community educational training, and surveys. To learn more about LHF, check out our Client Spotlight blog:

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Princeton Hydro and the City of Trenton hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of our new headquarters office in the historic Roebling Carpentry Shop (Building 110), a significant economic development milestone for the City of Trenton. This state-of-the-art office space on the top floor of the building (approximately 9,000 sf) has been transformed, while still maintaining the character and features of the original brick and heavy timber building.

"The City of Trenton's location has been strategic throughout the history of the United States, from a major turning point in the American Revolution to a major manufacturing center of the American Industrial Revolution to the development of major bridges throughout the country. It’s the perfect place to inspire our scientists, engineers, and landscape architects to shape the world in the 21st Century." said Geoffrey Goll, President of Princeton Hydro. "After looking at many properties in the area, we simply fell in love with this space. It is the perfect mix of character, history, and location, and it fulfills our desire to be a part of the revitalization of the City of Trenton. And the City, local businesses, and residents have welcomed us with open arms. We’re excited to get to know more of our neighbors and become a positive contributor to the community."

[gallery link="none" ids="10926,10917,10921,10920,10919,10923,10924,10925,10915,10913,10916,10944"]

"The City of Trenton is extremely excited that Princeton Hydro has chosen the Capital City as its new home and we look forward to seeing the historic Roebling Wireworks Carpentry Shop revitalized and rejuvenated into the bustling center of innovation and craft it once was," said Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora. "It's our hope that other businesses will follow in the footsteps of Princeton Hydro and utilize everything Trenton has to offer, including the City's cultural amenities, tech savvy workforce, and proximity to feeder universities."

This move by Princeton Hydro will result in the relocation of 30+ jobs to Trenton. It will bring to life a building that has been vacant for more than 25 years and adapt its use from industrial to transit-oriented, modern office space.

The project, constructed by Trenton-based Hx2 Development and designed by Trenton-based Architecture and Planning firm, Clarke Caton Hintz, has received enormous support and encouragement from the City of Trenton and Greater Trenton, the local organization dedicated to advancing revitalization efforts in the City.

"We are thrilled to welcome Princeton Hydro to Trenton and the opportunities their relocation means for current and future Trentonians. Transforming a former industrial building into modern office space for Princeton Hydro’s new headquarters mirrors the transformation in how and where companies choose to work. Access to multiple transportation options and other amenities found only in urban areas will aid in attracting and retaining quality employees and sustainable growth of Princeton Hydro’s business," said George Sowa, CEO of Greater Trenton. "We look forward to having them not only in the community, but also of, the Trenton community."

"It’s great to work with a client like Princeton Hydro, with their strong commitment to sustainability, collaborative and innovative workspaces, and new technologies. Their new offices are going to be extraordinary!" said John Hatch, Principal of Clarke Caton Hintz.

The redevelopment of Building 110 is part of the larger revitalization of Roebling Center, which includes five historic industrial buildings on Block 3 of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company. Phase 1, completed in 2018, included the opening of Roebling Lofts, a unique 138-unit loft apartment building located in Building 101 of the Roebling Complex.

David Henderson, Hx2 Development Principal, described the significance of Princeton Hydro’s move, "We are excited to welcome this regionally prominent consulting firm to Roebling Center and to Trenton! In the former Roebling Carpentry Shop, Princeton Hydro has found a unique space that combines historic character--including heavy timber trusses, large factory windows and exposed brickwork--with high-tech building systems, striking finishes and modern amenities."

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