The Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s West Brook Preserve Riparian Restoration Project
To restore the hydrology of the headwaters of the West Brook, a Trout production Category One Stream, to provide cool, high quality water downstream to the Wanaque Reservoir. Ultimately benefiting the New Jersey residents who rely on it for their drinking water and the native trout populations.
The West Brook Preserve contains a valley with steep, rocky hillsides split by a vast swamp where the headwaters of the West Brook begins its journey down into the Wanaque Reservoir. These wetlands should act as a sink to store water and release it year round, maintaining water flows into the Wanaque Reservoir even during the driest times of the year. Unfortunately, a portion of the hydrology of the southern portion of the Preserve has been significantly altered and the West Brook was channelized in the past in an attempt to de-water the property for development purposes. This is now a large muddy ditch which is significantly impacting the quality of the water that flows into the West Brook. The ditch acts as a large drain to empty the wetlands as quickly as possible and helps to exacerbate droughts. The ditch excavation has also become a vector for a variety of non-native, invasive species that are negatively impacting the property. We have completed a hydrology report that analyzed the impact of the ditch, and recommended strategies to properly restore this portion of the West Brook back into its natural channel to optimize year round water flow into the reservoir. The project includes removing a small dam and five culverts, plugging the ditch and re-flooding the former original stream channel. Restoring this stream will also help the eastern brook trout, which is estimated to have lost in excess of 62% of its original range in New Jersey. This species is a remnant of the last ice age and has successfully survived since the last glaciers receded from New Jersey more than 10,000 years ago. The brook trout has been extirpated from 94 sub-watersheds in New Jersey and is an important water quality indicator. Its continued presence is dependent on delivery of cool, high quality water into the West Brook, which is the major goal of our restoration effort.
Resource Values/Project Outputs:
The Wanaque Reservoir is the largest reservoir in the state, providing clean drinking water for approximately 2 million New Jersey residents. The Wanaque Reservoir has three major sources – the Wanaque River (which provides approximately half of the reservoir’s water), the Passaic River (which is pumped from a station at Two Bridges and provides approximately 35%) and the West Brook (which provides approximately 15%). By restoring the West Brook, we will not only improve the quality of water being delivered into the Reservoir, we will be able to showcase a critical model of how streams can be restored to sustainably provide high quality drinking water for New Jersey residents into the future.
Schedule: Initiation of project is planned for September or October 2019 and will be completed by November 2019.
Permit Status: Pending - For the West Brook Preserve Riparian Restoration project, The Land Conservancy will only need a Highlands GP 1 permit from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection. We are currently working on developing the application and plan to submit it by mid-April. We hope to receive the permit by August.
List of Partners: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Green Acres Stewardship Grant, Windbeam Fishing Club, and Private Donors.
What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution: We are respectfully requesting $15,000 to pay for part of construction costs not covered by NRCS and Green Acres. The construction budget from Urbani Fisheries is $268,733, with an additional cost of $15,000 for the restoration report from Urbani and $4,662 for 3 stream sensors for a total of $288,395. Funds from the CWRP will only be used for the project construction expenses.
Point of Contact: David J. Epstein, President of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, 973-541-1010 x17 or