Hunterdon, Morris, and Warren Counties, NEW JERSEY
The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) and its partners have removed three dams (Seber Dam, Riegelsville Dam, Finesville Dam) from the Musconetcong River over the past three years and are currently planning an additional dam removal (Hughesville Dam) within the next year. The removal of the three existing dams opened about 5 miles of river to migratory fish as well as resident fish such as brook trout. The CWRP was a key player in the successful removal of these dams by providing $35,000 toward the removal of the three dams and an additional $25,000 obligated for the upcoming removal of the Hughesville Dam. Removal of these dams will benefit fish and wildlife resources in a number of ways including: restoration of natural stream flows, opening over 12 miles of migratory fish passage for native diadromous fish species (such as American eels and river herring – alewife and blueback herring), improving habitat for other native and naturalized fish populations (such as trout and bass), reducing local flooding by lowering water surface elevations, appropriately managing sediment that has accumulated behind the subject dams, and possibly helping to alleviate flooding problems on the Delaware River by including some flood storage in the restoration design by restoring natural flood protection features (e.g., riparian wetlands). Dam removal has been identified as a critical conservation strategy to provide access to spawning areas for diadromous fish species.
A partnership of federal, State, and conservation organizations is working collaboratively to implement these projects and includes: MWA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, Conservation Resources, Inc., New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council.
"We are very excited to welcome a new partner to this project" said MWA Executive Director Beth Styler Barry "the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), which has over 225 corporate partners and 100 non-federal partners, including environmental organizations and foundations. I met with Russ Furnari and Jim Shissias of the New Jersey Chapter of CWRP in July of 2008 at the PSE&G headquarters in Newark, New Jersey. I was able to share with them MWA's long term goals for river restoration and they were very interested." The CWRP is a private-public initiative aimed at preserving, restoring, enhancing and protecting aquatic habitats throughout the United States. The structure of the CWRP allows corporate contributions to rapidly reach projects where they will produce tangible results.
Removal of Seber Dam on the Musconetcong River started in February 2009. The MWA removed the dam to restore the river's natural flow, improve water quality, and eliminate a potential flood hazard. Removal of the dam also helped reduce thermal pollution impacts associated with the dam pool. Following the dam removal, extensive stream bank restoration was completed. The Seber Dam spans the river from Hackettstown to Mount Olive about one mile upstream of the Route 46 bridge. The dam was built in the 1950s to form a swimming area for Hackettstown residents. It was breached and repaired on a number of occasions over the past fifty years.
The project site is just upstream of the confluence of the Musconetcong and Delaware Rivers. This project was implement in August 2011 and removed existing timber remnants of the Riegelsville Dam and channel restoration restoring 1 mile of stream upstream to Finesville Dam. Optimizing fish habitat in rivers is based on a set of techniques referred to as “bed manipulation.” This involves the stabilization of banks and reorganizing the native elements in the river to favor fish and their food base organisms, thereby allowing the river to reach its full potential as a fishery.
This project removed the Finesville Dam on the Lower Musconetcong River in Phillipsburg, Warren County, New Jersey in November 2011. This dam was the lowest blockage on the river (after Riegelsville Dam) and removal provides access to 2.4 miles of historic river herring spawning and nursery habitat. The dam was obsolete and was 9 feet high and required 450 linear feet of stabilization upstream. Removal included excavation, removal of debris, and stabilization of the upstream channel.
This project serves as an important piece to the continued restoration of the Musconetcong River as a free-flowing waterway. The Hughesville Dam is now the first blockage from the Delaware River and is the first impediment to fish passage. The dam is approximately eighteen feet high with a concrete weir spillway approximately twelve feet in height. Completion of this project will lead to a total of an additional 5 miles open to fish migration. A feasibility study, which includes design plans for removal, is completed and removal activities are expected to be initiated in 2013.
Musconetcong River Watershed Dam Removals