The project is located approximately 30 miles from Atlantic City, New Jersey. Batsto Lake is located approximately two miles upstream from the confluence of the Batsto River and the Mullica River. Historic dams at the project site have prevented fish passage for over 200 years. The project is located at Batsto Village State Historic Park, which is focused on preserving the historical accuracy of a 19th century New Jersey community.
The installation of the fishway at Batsto Lake would provide access to approximately eight miles of river to migratory fish. The target fish species will be alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus); however, blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) and American eel would also be suited to use the fishway. Batsto Lake dam is owned, operated, and maintained by the New Jersey Division of Forestry for scenic and recreational purposes. Denil fishways will be used for the project, specifically the aluminum Alaska Steeppass Model A type. The installed fishway will greatly benefit migratory fish on the Batsto River.
Currently, a large run of river herring migrate to the base of Batsto Lake dam but are impeded from reaching historic spawning and foraging areas upstream on the Batsto River. Based on past fishway projects, the fishway usage estimates from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries (BFF) for alewife are: 50 for year one, 100 year two, 300 year three, 900 year four, and 1800 by year five. The BFF is supportive of seeding adult alewife in Batsto Lake and further upstream before and after the fishway installation to facilitate usage by migratory fish. Additionally, recreational fishing opportunities for the public will increase with future “herring runs. The recreational fishery for striped bass (Morone saxatilus) will benefit from the increase in the aquatic biodiversity and forage fish. Allowing fish passage upstream of Batsto Lake dam will benefit the entire freshwater ecology of the New Jersey Pinelands The number of fish species and piscivorous birds upstream of the dam will rise due to the overall improvement in the health of the Batsto River riparian system with a return to the natural aquatic food webs.
In addition, the Batsto Village provides an excellent venue for environmental education concerning migratory fish passage and the importance of New Jersey's rivers. Built at a cost of $600,000 the NJ CWRP donation of $50,000 enabled the project sponsor to meet their cost share responsibilities thereby enabling the project’s implementation. Additional partners included the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corp of Engineers, The US Environmental Protection Agency, NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The project received a Coastal America Partnership in 2005.