Tag: Highland Park

Sept 26: Stream Clean-up in Highland Park!

The LRWP, the Borough of Highland Park, and Middlesex County Division of Parks are co-hosting a clean-up on Sunday September 26, 10am-1pm!

Hurricane Ida washed a fair amount of trash into our floodplains. Refuse also remains on local trails and stream banks. This is an opportunity to come together to clean up the mess!

HIGHLAND PARK PARKING: 51 River Road, Highland Park NJ, parking lot passed the Educational Center (additional parking on Harrison, Cleveland and Wayside).


With thanks to our partners: Sustainable Highland Park, Highland Park Environmental Commission, Highland Park Ecology and Environment Group and the Reformed Church of Highland Park.


Oct 26 Low Tide Clean Up in Donaldson Park

Some 30 tires are stuck on the river bottom near Highland Park’s Donaldson Park. The LRWP and our Central Jersey Stream Team friends have wanted to get in there all year. Saturday October 26 is our last chance for a super low tide in 2019, and if the weather holds out we should be able to wrestle these guys out of the muck.

This will be a VERY muddy clean-up, requiring muscle and perseverance. There are few small items to collect in this area it is mostly buried tires.

Registration starts at 12:30pm, we want to get out onto the mud flats quickly to take advantage of the low tide at 2:11pm. We expect to have things wrapped up by 3pm.

Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear that can get wet and (VERY) muddy.
Please park by the basketball courts, we will fan out onto the mud flats from there.
Registration requested. This is a “shine only” event, and we will not hold the clean up if the water is high because of recent rain. Please be sure to check our event page for updated information.

CANCELLED!!! May 12 – Mother’s Day clean-up

Sadly the weather does not look cooperative, and as such we are CANCELLING our May 12 Mother’s Day clean-up of Mill Brook.
We don’t do this lightly. Forecast says solid rain from 9-2, some of which may be pretty heavy. While cleaning up in the rain is fun, it is not necessarily safe (especially in high water and fast-moving streams). And picnicking in the rain is a bit of a bummer.
HUGE THANKS to all the amazing groups and individuals involved! And please hold Sunday October 13 as a possible rain date.

Please join the LRWP, our Americorps Watershed Ambassador Von Scully, Trash Troubadour Dave Seamon, and community partners including the Highland Park Environmental Commission, City of Highland Park, Reformed Church of Highland Park, Sustainable Highland Park, Highland Park Ecology and Environmental Group, Highland Park High School Environmental Club, Edison Environmental Commission, Middlesex County Parks & Recreation Conservation Corps, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, and others for a multi-site clean-up of Mill Brook, culminating in a community celebration in Johnson Park (Grove 2)! (see here for a pdf version of our flyer to share: Mill Brook Flyer-compressed)

WHAT: a clean-up of Mill Brook (Highland Park and Edison), followed by a community picnic and celebration

WHEN: Sunday May 12, 2019

10:00 AM to noon – clean-up of multiple sites.

12-1:30 pm community gathering / picnic in Johnson Park, Grove 2

WHERE: Please register for one of three teams:

  1.  Team Johnson Park (park near Grove 2): coordinated by the Middlesex County Parks & Recreation Conservation Corps
  2.  Team Bridge & Culvert (meet in Johnson Park near Grove 2): coordinated by the Mill Brook Streamkeeper and Highland Park Ecology and Environmental Group
  3.  Team John Marshall Elementary School (15 Cornell Street, Edison, NJ): coordinated by the Highland Park High School Environmental Club and friends

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: Wear shoes and clothing appropriate for getting wet and/or muddy. We are in tick season! Wear long sleeve pants and shirts. Bring sunscreen/hat. Bring a reusable water bottle. Have fun!

Everyone is welcome to join us in Johnson Park (Grove 2) for a community celebration and picnic from 12-1:30 PM.

We will provide some foodstuffs (sandwiches, chips) and beverages to share. Please bring chairs, picnic blankets and your favorite picnic treats!

Want to learn more about Mill Brook? Check out LRWP Streamkeeper Susan Edmunds’ StoryMap photo tour of this fascinating waterway. Mill Brook: Portrait of an Urban Stream tells the story Mill Brook, a tributary of the Raritan running through Edison and Highland Park.




Mill Brook: Story of an Urban Stream

Join us on Sunday March 24, 2PM at the Highland Park Public Library to learn about Mill Brook – a Tributary of the Raritan River.
LRWP Streamkeeper, Highland Park resident and Rutgers Environmental Steward Susan Edmunds will present on her internship work with the LRWP, through which she documented the history of this waterway that runs through Edison and Highland Park. Following Susan’s presentation, Rutgers Graduate Student Jillian Dorsey (Landscape Architecture) will present findings from her thesis research on Mill Brook, highlighting steps property owners can take to protect their urban streams.
Sponsored by the LRWP, Highland Park Historical Commission, Highland Park Environmental Commission, Native Plant Society of NJ – Highland Park Chapter.
Please contact Heather Fenyk for more information: hfenyk AT lowerraritanwatershed DOT org

Mill Brook: Portrait of An Urban Stream

by LRWP Streamkeeper Susan Edmunds

Thirty years ago, my husband and I moved into a house down at the end of a quiet street in Highland Park. Beside the house, in a low area, ran a little stream, nameless as far as I knew. I imagined making a garden beside it until I saw the muddy water that rushed through after heavy rains, rooting out vegetation, clawing away at the stream banks, and depositing all manner of storm debris. I came to think of the stream as nothing but a source of problems. Years went by. I sought advice from various experts and made some progress in resolving some problems, though others remained.

Eventually, in the Rutgers Environmental Stewardship program, I learned that the problems of urban streams are predictable and can, at least in theory, be mitigated. I learned that, with active community involvement, even large rivers have been significantly restored. The RES program led me to the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and a plan to document the stream that I now knew was called Mill Brook.

I took pictures and made lists of storm sewer outfalls, eroded portions of  stream banks, retaining walls in various states of disrepair, and multiple types of litter, wondering how this information about predictable problems might be useful. Increasingly, my attention was caught by the magnificently tall trees in the Mill Brook stream corridor, the bird song high above me, the calming gurgle of the water at my feet, and the sense of being far away while actually only a few yards from the hubbub of one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. I have learned that Mill Brook has been a source of much happiness for others, too, over the years.

I composed this Story Map Mill Brook: Portrait of an Urban Stream to invite you, the reader, to experience for yourself this valuable natural resource that runs like a ribbon through our community. I hope that a virtuous circle may arise in which the value of Mill Brook is acknowledged in our communities so that we willingly do what it takes to resolve problems created by developments that include our own homes. In return, Mill Brook will increase in value to us because it is a healthier natural resource and because we will have the satisfaction of caring for it.

Meet Mill Brook Streamkeeper Susan Edmunds!

Article by LRWP Raritan Scholar Intern Daniel Cohen

Highland Park resident Susan Edmunds is the first “Streamkeeper” for the Mill Brook, a tributary of the Lower Raritan Watershed.

LRWP Streamkeeper Susan Edmunds, a 30 year resident of Highland Park, lives adjacent to a tributary of the Raritan River called Mill Brook. During the time Susan has lived alongside the Mill Brook, she has become committed to the environmental sustainability of this stream. As part of a Rutgers Environmental Stewards program internship, conducted with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Susan documented the condition of the Mill Brook through historical research and photography, synthesizing this information in an online “storymap” titled Mill Brook: Portrait of an Urban Stream.

Susan Edmunds will give a public presentation on “Mill Brook, a Tributary of the Raritan River Running through Edison and Highland Park” March 24, 2019, 2-4 PM at the Highland Park Public Library

Susan is a strong advocate for what she terms “a new understanding” by all stakeholders in order to remedy the serious threats which endanger the environmental viability of the stream. I walked along the waterway with her as she highlighted several major environmental challenges facing Mill Brook. These include illegal dumping of commercial and residential trash, and wash off of chemical herbicides and fertilizers from nearby lawns into the stream. This wash off is part of what is called “non-point source pollution,” and includes not just herbicides and fertilizers, but also animal waste, motor vehicle oil and other chemicals.

As we continued walking downstream, Susan told me that in recent years Mill Brook has experienced intensified erosion and flooding events. She pointed out the proliferation of driveways, parking lots, and walls — what is known as impervious surfaces — that prevent the natural absorption of rainwater into the soil and results in “stormwater runoff.” She then explained how excessive amounts of stormwater runoff exacerbates erosion of lawns and damage to residential structures, and also carries downstream pollution in the form of silt and gravel and non-point pollution.

Even before becoming part of the LRWP’s inaugural team of Streamkeepers, Susan has long been committed to restoring the natural beauty of Mill Brook. She regularly removes debris from its banks, and replaces invasive plants with native flora. In her role as Streamkeeper she has added regular monitoring and reporting on stream health. She understands that while her isolated efforts are important, care of Mill Brook requires a long-term commitment by Edison and Highland Park residents as well as municipal authorities.

Susan sees that inspiring a collective commitment to the health of Mill Brook is a crucial part of her role as Streamkeeper. Her goal is to encourage others to appreciate the Mill Brook as much as she does. She strongly believes that when residents learn about and visit the stream they will be motivated to care for it. In this sense she says she hopes her tenure as Mill Brook’s formal Streamkeeper will be short – and that her work will inspire someone else to become a steward and “Streamkeeper” of the stream.

Susan gave me examples of other stewardship she would like to see. For example, schools in the vicinity of the Mill Brook should encourage students to participate in restoring the waterway. And homeowners and business owners who live and work in proximity to the Mill Brook should treat the waterway as the living system it is, and give it room to serve as flood control and to allow for native riparian habitat (not lawns!) to become established. Susan believes that small steps like these will not only help ensure the environmental sustainability Mill Brook, but of all of our endangered watersheds.

Thank you, Susan!

Clean-up of Donaldson Park (Highland Park)

The LRWP is teaming up with Raritan Headwaters Association, Highland Park High School Environmental Club, Highland Park Environmental Commission, Highland Park Ecology and Environmental Group, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War – Environmental Committee, Central Jersey Stream Team, Plastic Free Waters Partnership and others for an Earth Day clean-up of the floodplain.

WHAT: a clean-up of Donaldson Park and the Highland Park Conservation Zone on Saturday April 14 from 9 AM to noon.

WHERE: Parking is available in the Highland Park Department of Public Works parking lot at the end of South 5th Avenue (444 Valentine Street). We will kick-off the clean-up at the kiosk at the entrance to the Conservation Zone near the DPW lot.

Please dress appropriately for the weather. Gloves and bags will be provided!


*** For more information contact Heather hfenyk@lowerraritanwatershed.org ***