Forested Wetland Floodplain Restoration, Woodbridge

Project Purpose:

 

The Township of Woodbridge is over 350 years old, consists of ten unincorporated towns, and encompasses approximately 24 square miles, including approximately 3,000 acres of regulated Special Flood Hazard Areas in tidal and fluvial floodplains. Coastal areas of utmost concern for flood risk are located adjacent to the Woodbridge River, its tidal tributaries and the Arthur Kill. Although the Township has taken tremendous steps toward restoring its natural floodplain functions, flood inundation remains an issue within said project area (Watson-Crampton Neighborhood, Woodbridge, NJ, 07095). The proposed project seeks to implement new conservation efforts (in conjunction with our partners at Rutgers Cooperative Extension), to help anticipate and absorb such flooding impacts. In particular, the Township would like to develop these restoration practices in order to best ensure the area is managed as a critical resource for habitat and as a sense of resilient infrastructure for the community.

 

Brief Description:

 

The goal of this project is to enhance wetland function and integrity through the restoration of a Phragmites monoculture to a native forested wetland. The project proposes to convey stormwater and flood waters from the adjacent developed area to the Woodbridge River. The wetland design redirects flow from three existing swales through a series of vegetated depressions, where water will be temporarily stored and filtered. The design increases the flood storage potential of the existing landscape using natural ecological features and re-establishes native wetland vegetation appropriate to the region and the expected site conditions. This restored habitat will provide improved water quality and biodiversity for state listed wading bird species, such as little blue herons and snowy egret. The vertical structure of the forest may also provide roosting habitat for black-crowned night herons and cattle egrets.

Resource Values/Project Outputs:

 

Metrics and monitoring will need to be carefully considered into order to account for a variety of factors such as planting vitality metrics, long-term establishment of native plant stands, wildlife indicators of success, and flood reduction metrics. As such, the Township plans to continue its long-established success in working with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) program. With regard to the coastal floodplain surrounding the Woodbridge River, the Township has been extremely successful in removing people and structures from flood risk through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Blue Acres Program, and restoring said areas to best ensure natural floodplain functions. To date over 160 structures have been removed from harm’s way. In addition, the Township, in concert with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension program, has re-engineered said Blue Acres buy-out areas through the installation of over 2,000 native trees and shrubs, removed two acres of impervious surface, and eradicated five acres of invasive species.

 

These groundbreaking initiatives have enhanced ecological value and flood storage capacity, and led to the Township being awarded, by the New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management, for its outstanding programs focused on reducing flood risk and restoring natural functions. Despite these successful and on-going programs, a number of parcels remain unrestored, and Woodbridge wishes to increase said ecological impacts therein. This project is focused on creating a forested wetland within >3 acres of said area, of which is currently dominated by invasive species and rendered unusable for passive recreation, not sufficient for flood storage, and lacking ecological diversity. Therefore, metrics will be obtained by working with the RCE, in order to best quantify this innovative project to re-define resilience.

 

Projects such as this help communities like Woodbridge protect lives and property by providing improved drainage and food storage with regard to local flood risks which helps in making cost-effective mitigation decisions. This project would be a great benefit to the Township’s holistic floodplain management program. Such resources would provide invaluable passive resources to the community while helping to protect lives and property, especially in repetitive loss areas along the Woodbridge River.

 

Nuisance flooding during full-moon high tides, heavy rain events, and strong coastal surges during storm seasons have been increasing in velocity, frequency, and intensity. In addition, climactic shifts due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions continue to show flooding issues climbing higher than predictions. Critical near-shore habitats, wetlands, and upland forests can function as buffers to absorb excess water and wind energy introduced into a watershed. Thus, natural habitats are the definition of resilient infrastructure, as they are more readily able to rebound after powerful storm events. In addition to providing flood storage capacity, these areas are havens for safeguarding the existing benefits associated with healthy natural areas, such as filtration of nutrient run- off and carbon storage. And, they provide exciting recreational opportunities for members of the community.

 

Cost/Budget:

  • Phase 1 & 2 Combined (Phase 1 to take place in Sept. 2021):

  • Construction Oversight: $4,000

  • Survey Equipment Rental (Trimble): $800.00

  • Planting (est. 4200 herbaceous/woody plants): $7,560

  • Plant Protection Installation: $600

  • Post-Construction Watering/Weeding (8 weeks assuming late September construction): $1,350 Travel: $900

  • Herbaceous plants (Phase 1: $5,387.44; Phase 2: $5,890.17; Combined: $11,277.60)

  • Tree and Shrub Protection (Phase 1: $3,105.26; Phase 2: $5,113.26; Combined: $8,218.52)

  • Goose Protection Snow Fencing (Phase 1: $795.22; Phase 2: $622.84; Combined: $1,418.06)

  • Goose Protection Wire Grid System (Phase 1: $816.21; Phase 2: $877.78; Combined: $1,693.99) 10%

  • Contingency (Phase 1: $1,010.41; Phase 2: $1,250.40; Combined: $2,260.82)

  • Total: $ 40,078.99

In-Kind Contributions from the Township of Woodbridge:

  • Excavation, Unclassified: $7,000.00

  • Test Pits: $3,000.00

  • Grading: $7,000.00

  • Time and Material (DPW): $25,000.00

  • Project administration: $5,000.00

  • Educational Workshops - Wetland Restoration & Eco-system Services: $4,000.00

  • Design of interpretive signage: $2,000

  • Printing costs associated with educational interpretative signage: $6,000.00

  • Delivery and Installation of signage: $2,000.00

  • Total: $61,000.00

  • Total Project Cost: $101,078.99

Schedule: Initiation of project in September 2021 - a timetable for completion of 2 years/ 11 month

Permit Status: Woodbridge is excited in that this project has been fully designed and engineered. Furthermore, as of September 17, 2020, permit applications for FWW GP 16 and Coastal Zone Management GP 24 have been approved by the NJDEP Division of Land Resource Protection for permitting compliance.

List of Partners: Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) program; USFWS Partners Program What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution: $24,250.00


Point of Contact: 

Thomas C. Flynn, M.P.A., CFM Floodplain Manager
Division of Engineering
Township of Woodbridge
732-602-6057

Thomas.Flynn@Twp.Woodbridge.NJ.US

Megan Kushpa
Mayor’s Office of Communications

Township of Woodbridge

732-602-6054

megan.kushpa@twp.woodbridge.nj.us