TNC’s Minisink Valley “Mountain Properties”
Restoration Location: Montague, NJ
Project Purpose: To protect the integrity of the Clove Brook, its associated marshes, and the overall health of this area, we plan to restore a former quarry site in the headwaters of this Category 1 stream, which drains into the Wild & Scenic Delaware River. By stabilizing soil and establishing a mixture of herbaceous and woody vegetation, we will reduce the run-off of sediment downstream into the Clove Brook and neighboring wetlands; we also will provide early successional habitat for species like the rapidly declining Golden-Winged Warbler.
Brief Description: The Minisink Valley Preserve, acquired by TNC in 2008, protects nearly ¾ of a mile of the Clove Brook, a Category 1 stream that flows into the Neversink River and then into the Delaware River; the brook is flanked by significant high-quality emergent marshes (see map below). A 2010 addition to the preserve of 108 acres of forested uplands, hemlock ravines, small streams, and wet swales included an old gravel quarry of about 10 acres in size. The mine was officially closed, regraded, and planted with a mixture of grasses in 2010.
Our long-term objective is to reforest the area to reduce sedimentation and to provide natural wetland and forest habitat for wildlife species. Although native herbaceous ground cover initially will help reduce soil erosion, we aim to plant a mixture of woody species in 2011 along slopes and drainage channels (approximately 3 acres) to help stabilize the soil and minimize sedimentation downstream as quickly as possible. Planting will be focused along steep slopes and wet areas, including seeps and streambeds, so as to maximize the stabilization of areas where soil is most likely to wash away from the site. Live stakes of quick-growing native trees and shrubs planted in wetland areas also will help provide shade in future years for slower-growing tree species. Fencing the restoration site to prevent deer browse will be critical to the success of the project.
In addition to planting native species with the help of corporate volunteers and school children, we will help improve run-off patterns on the site by working with hunters to move the large stones that currently are blocking flow through the primary established drainage channel, diverting it away from the detention pond and across the site. These hunters are TNC volunteers who have offered to lend and operate the equipment necessary to move these rocks, some of which we will use to build small check-dams in the downstream channels that drain the site and connect with Clove Brook downstream. These small structures are designed to slow run-off downstream from the ex-mining site and to help trap sediment. We will conduct basic monitoring periodically to assess baseline conditions at the site prior to implementing restoration activities, as well as during and after restoration in order to be able to gauge how much restoration activities improve conditions at the site and have long-lasting effects on freshwater system function.
Resource Values/Project Outputs: Near-term project outputs will include establishing native vegetation that will reduce soil erosion and create early successional habitat in an area utilized by Golden-Winged Warblers, as well as slowing run-off from the site to improve water quality of wetlands, headwaters streams, and the downstream Clove Brook and its marshes. Over time, our efforts will help to re-establish a forested corridor through this area while improving the quality of wetland habitat on and nearby the former mining site.
List of Partners: Partners for US Fish and Wildlife (the project’s federal sponsor), New Jersey Endangered and Non-Game Species Program (the project’s non-federal sponsor). Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants, Inc. has already donated staff time and a planting plan. We will be applying to Natural Resource Conservation Service for a Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program grant to fund the fencing and remaining project costs.