Tag: Middlesex County

2019 Water Quality Findings & Next Steps

Join the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership at the May meeting of the Middlesex County Water Resources Association for a presentation on 2019 Water Quality Monitoring Findings and Next Steps for 2020!

Monday May 11, 1:30-3:30 pm. We will meet in the Middlesex County Administration Building, Freeholder Meeting Room

75 Bayard Street / New Brunswick, NJ  08901

More details to follow.

October 13 clean-up in Jamesburg!

Our Middlesex County Parks friends have made a special request for our October 13 clean-up: “can the LRWP help rally a team to clean-up the run-off areas near Jamesburg Lake”?

The clean-up areas we will focus on are not streams, not quite detention basins, but on depressions in the landscape that collect run off and LOTS of trash. Heavy stormwater flows then funnel the trash right into Jamesburg Lake. Yuck!

On Sunday October 13 we will meet at 10 am in the kennel parking lot at 652-654 Old Stage Road. Look for the Middlesex County Corps signs and truck, and the LRWP turtle.

For this event please wear long pants with closed toe shoes – boots or sneakers are best. And be sure to dress in layers! Our Parks friends suggest that everyone wears bug spray.

Our clean-up will run 10-noon.

Pre-registration requested.


The Influence of Landscape Context on Native Plant Species in Stormwater Detention Basins

By Kate Douthat, third year PhD candidate in the graduate program of Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers. Kate’s research is examining the plant communities that have formed in urban stormwater systems. She is interested in the extensive stormwater infrastructure network in New Jersey and how we can use plants to improve water quality. Kate loves to share her enthusiasm about plants and to teach the public about the stormwater systems in our backyards. She has agreed to develop a series of informative blogs for the LRWP’s readers and will also lead our #booksfortheriver book club starting Fall 2019. You can see more of her writing about plants and water resources at katedouthatecology.com

This map shows the location of each site and the percent native species in each basin. The map shows a trend for lower percentage native species at more northern sites, so location matters!

During the summer of 2018, I surveyed plants in stormwater detention basins throughout an urban and suburban area of central New Jersey. This study is aimed at improving water quality and wetland habitat by choosing the right plants for the job. Selecting appropriate sites for renovations and the choosing the best species to plant depends on many factors. Two important factors are the plants’ ability to survive in basin conditions and the natural tendency for certain plants to colonize basins regardless of what we plant there. One question I am addressing is how survival and colonization change depending on the surrounding landscape. Because catch basins at various locations receive different amounts of pollution and seeds, I expect to see different plants in different settings.

How does the surrounding landscape influence the plant community in a stormwater detention basin?

The adjacent land use and land cover influence wetland properties, including plant communities. Land cover is the type of stuff on the site, such as forest or roads. Land use is the activity that humans do on the site. Both factors affect plant communities. The surrounding landscape influences the plant community by the quantity and type of seeds available and by dispersal routes. One of the basic ways that plant communities are quantified is by the number of different species on a site, termed “species richness.” Paved roads around a wetland affect plant species richness and roads are particularly important dispersal routes for invasive plants. The proportion of native plants increases with forest cover in the surrounding area.

In this analysis, I am using the land use and land cover within 500 meters of each catch basin to explore relationships between adjacent land and the proportion of native species in the basin.  I used a computer program to do exploratory regression. That technique takes each possible explanatory factor and tests the strength of the relationship between that factor and the factor of interest. In this case, the factors are land cover types and the percent native species at a site. I found that more adjacent commercial and service area leads to a lower percentage of native species in a catch basin. Transportation and utility areas, such as power line right-of-ways, also contributes to a lower percentage of native species. On the other hand, the percent of native species increases when a basin is surrounded by recreation area and wooded wetlands.

The following series of maps shows the areas around each catch basin. The maps are arranged from lowest percent native species to highest. In some cases there were two basins next two each other, so there are two numbers shown for the percent native species in each one individually. The land cover types with the strongest relationship to percent native species are colored. The reds and pinks are commercial or transitional areas, the light blues are wetlands, and the green is recreation area. (The names in the legends are the specific technical terms.)

The maps show that the amount of commercial or recreation area that surrounds a catch basin makes a big difference to the plants that live there. This result can help land managers decide which restoration goals are appropriate in different settings. For example, by the roadside, where there are more non-native species, a basin may be redesigned to filter pollution. Non-native species can perform this service as well as native species. However, in a park or recreation setting, where there are relatively more native species, a catch basin may be restored to include rare and sensitive native species. This analysis still needs fine tuning, but shows promise as a way to predict plant community characteristics based on the surrounding landscape.

NJDEP Municipal Stormwater Infrastructure Mapping Tool

On Monday June 18, the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Middlesex County hosted a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection training session for communities interested in learning how to use NJDEP’s new stormwater infrastructure mapping tool. This ArcGIS field app tool utilizes handheld devices to assist municipalities with meeting requirements of their municipal stormwater permits. It is available free-of-charge to municipalities and partners authorized by the municipality. Almost 50 participants learned how to automatically upload stormwater infrastructure data to NJDEP servers, overlay data with DEP maps to assess the location of waterbodies in relation to stormwater infrastructure, and more.

The workshop began with an overview of the recently renewed municipal stormwater permit requirements provided by NJDEP’s Matt Klewin. A pdf of Mr. Klewin’s presentation can be found here:

NJDEP – Municipal Stormwater Permit Requirements update June 2018.

Tim Ebersberger then presented a brief overview of how to visually assess the quality of existing stormwater infrastructure, assisted participants with tool download, and demonstrated tool function (how to log in and activate the collector application) before attendees ventured out for hands-on usage of the mobile mapping application.

Mr. Ebersberger’s presentation can be found here:


NJDEP will ensure that municipalities interested in this project that do not hold a current ArcGIS license will be provided with a license free-of-charge. Please contact Tim Ebersberger for more information:

Tim Ebersberger, NJDEP Bureau of Nonpoint Pollution Control



June 18 Stormwater infrastructure mapping training with NJDEP

The NJDEP has developed a new stormwater infrastructure mapping tool to assist municipalities with meeting the requirements of their municipal stormwater permit. This ArcGIS field app will be available free-of-charge to municipalities and partners authorized by the municipality.

On Monday June 18, the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and Middlesex County will host a NJDEP training session for communities interested in learning how to use this new stormwater mapping tool. The training session will be held at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville, and will run from 9-1pm (including lunch). Pre-registration required.

Here’s an overview from NJDEP as to why communities should use their new Stormwater Mapping Tool:

-Ease of use
-Data is automatically uploaded to DEP servers
-Overlay data with DEP maps to assess the location of waterbodies in relation to stormwater infrastructure
-Municipalities without a current ArcGIS license will be provided with one free-of-charge

The workshop will also include an overview of the recently renewed municipal stormwater permit requirements, as well as a short presentation on how to visually assess the quality of existing stormwater infrastructure.

Lunch will be provided. RSVP required.

For questions: hfenyk@lowerraritanwatershed.org

LRWP receives Middlesex County Local Arts Program Grant

With grant support from the Middlesex County Office of Arts History, the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and coLAB Arts will implement the first component of the #lookfortheriver Public Art Program in New Brunswick’s Boyd Park in Summer 2018. The grant will allow for engineering and construction of a footing (the base) for a new public art piece for New Brunswick’s Boyd Park. The creative work to be installed at that site will serve both environmental/watershed awareness and cultural/community engagement purposes for the Raritan River waterfront at that site. Grant funding has been provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders through a grant provided by New Jersey State Council on the Arts / Department of State.

The #lookfortheriver Public Art Program is a component of the LRWP’s #lookfortheriver watershed restoration campaign, which is designed to encourage community members to “look” for buried streams using landscape cues and historical research. #lookfortheriver is a package of actions communities can engage in around flood resilience and environmental restoration. The LRWP will be rolling out aspects of the #lookfortheriver campaign through 2018 and 2019.

Clean-up of Johnson Park (Piscataway)

Help us kick-off the New Year by giving some clean-up attention to Middlesex County’s Johnson Park (Piscataway). Since we last cleaned that area a pair of Bald Eagles has moved in! We’ll stay clear of their nesting grounds, but there is plenty to do in the rest of the floodplain. We will meet 9:30am at the Middlesex County Parks Department offices, and from there caravan to the clean-up site.

WHAT: a clean-up of Johnson Park on Sunday January 14 from 9:30 AM to 11 AM (cutting things short because of the nip in the air)

WHERE: Clean-up kick-off at 1030 River Road in Piscataway, Middlesex County Parks Headquarters lobby.

PLEASE NOTE: if there is snow on the ground on January 14, we will have to postpone the clean-up. (Its hard to find litter when you can’t see it!) – check on the event webpage to verify

This Event is co-coordinated by the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and the Middlesex County Department of Parks. With special thanks to Middlesex County for cartage and supplies.

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

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

Workshop: Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience

On November 17 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership is joining with NOAA to co-host a day-long workshop: “Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience”. This workshop is designed for planners, engineers and municipal leaders who are not yet familiar with GI for coastal resilience. Register now!

Morgan Marina in Sayreville, NJ following Superstorm Sandy, Oct-Nov 2012

The workshop is timed to coincide with the 5th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. We see this as an opportune moment to reflect on successes in implementing GI thus far, as well as to frame challenges, solutions and opportunities for future GI interventions.

Participation will be capped at 50. Continuing ed credits will be available for planners and floodplain managers.

Continuing Education Credits available:

6 – American Planning Association (APA)

5 – Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM)

With thanks to the Middlesex County Office of Planning the workshop will be held at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville, NJ.

Notes from Garden & Afield: Week of Oct 1-8

Except as noted, article and photos by Joe Sapia

Note: The yard references are to my house in the section of Monroe between Helmetta and Jamesburg in South Middlesex County. My yard is in a Pine Barrens outlier on the Inner Coastal Plain, the soil is loamy, and my neighborhood is on the boundary of Gardening Zones 6b (cooler) and 7a (warmer). Notes and photographs are for the period covered, unless otherwise noted.

Morning on Farrington Lake, looking from East Brunswick to North Brunswick, both in Middlesex County, at the Hardenburg Lane bridge. Being on New Jersey’s Coastal Plain, where there are few, if any, natural bodies of water, Farrington Lake is created by the damming of Lawrence Brook between Davidson Mill Pond Park and Milltown.

FIRETOWERS: New Jersey’s fall wildfire season coincides with leaves falling and normally runs until about Thanksgiving and that time of year’s colder temperatures. But there could be a wildfire threat at any time if conditions are correct — and, now, we have had both falling leaves and dry conditions. So, the state Forest Fire Service is staffing its lookout towers. Visitors are welcome to go up in the towers when they are staffed – but, remember, you not only have to walk up the tower stairs, but you have to walk down. These Forest Fire Service towers are in the Jersey Midlands: Jamesburg/Middlesex County, Lakewood/Ocean County, Cedar Bridge/Ocean County, Medford/Burlington County, Lebanon/Burlington County, Apple Pie Hill/Burlington County, Batsto/Burlington County, and Bass River/Burlington County.

“Jamesburg Tower,” actually outside of Jamesburg in a Monroe Township section of Thompson Park, is about 65-feet-tall, sitting on high ground of about 150 feet above sea level over the Raritan River watershed.

GREAT HORNED OWL: Late at night, as I was at my desk, I thought I heard one of my favorite night sounds, the resonating hoot, hoot, hoot of a great horned owl, “Bubo virginianus.” I went outside and heard what I thought was a faint call of one, then nothing. The great horned is an early breeder, so the calling, signally both territory and looking for mates, should increase. More information, including audio of its calls, is at Cornell University’s All About Birds website, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/id.
BALD EAGLE, OCEAN COUNTY: Diane Larson, the home horticulturist and leader of the Master Gardeners program in Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension Office/Monmouth County, sent in this photograph taken by her stepson, Danny Larson. It is a juvenile bald eagle, photographed on the afternoon of Thursday, October 5, on Beaver Dam Creek in Brick, Ocean County. Diane was leaning toward bald eagle, “Haliaeetus leucocephalus,” but raised a question if it could be a golden eagle, “Aquila chrysaetos.” Two New Jersey Audubon Society naturalists, Pete Bacinski (retired) and Scott Barnes (active) made the identification via this photograph. “It is a juvenile bald eagle,” Pete said. “The bill is too large for (a) golden.” “Yes, definitely a juvenile bald eagle,” Scott said. (Thank you, Danny, Diane, Pete, and Scott, for the team effort.)

Danny Larson photographed this juvenile bald eagle on Beaver Dam Creek near his family’s house in Brick, Ocean County. (Photography copyright 2017 by Danny Larson.)

DRIVE-BY NATURALIST, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT: As I drive through the Pigeon Swamp area of South Brunswick, Middlesex County, I pass a warehouse area. There, I often see a double-crested cormorant, “Phalacrocorax auritus,” at a retention pond.

A double-crested cormorant in a retention pond in South Brunswick, Middlesex County.

STEAMING FARRINGTON LAKE: When water temperature is much warmer than air temperature, bodies of water look like steaming soup. I caught this view of Farrington Lake on a cool morning. A few winters back, when we experienced real cold temperatures, this phenomenon was seen at the Atlantic Ocean – a really cool view.

A steamy Farrington Lake, looking from East Brunswick to North Brunswick.

FALL ON THE FARMS: It is fall, so farms are displaying pumpkins and chrysanthemums. Field corn, or feed corn, awaits harvesting.

Field corn awaits harvesting in South Brunswick, Middlesex County

Acres of field corn await harvesting in South Brunswick

Chrysanthemums at Davino’s Nursery in East Windsor, Mercer County.

CLOUDS, NO. 1: One of the week’s beautiful clouds and sky view was from the East Windsor Community Garden in Mercer County.

Beautiful clouds and sky view at East Windsor Community Garden in Mercer County.

CLOUDS, NO. 2: Another view of beautiful sky with clouds was from my backyard in Monroe, Middlesex County.

A clouds-in-the-sky view from my backyard in Monroe, Middlesex County.

Another clouds-in-the-sky view from my backyard.

OCEAN TEMPERATURES: Atlantic Ocean temperatures on the New Jersey coast were about 69 degrees to 71 degrees during the weekend of October 7 and 8.
SUNRISE/SUNSET: For October 8, Sunday, to October 14, Saturday, the sun will rise about 7:05 a.m. and set about 6:25 p.m. For October 15, Sunday, to October 21, Saturday, the sun will rise from about 7:10 to 7:15 a.m. and set about 6:10 to 6:15 p.m.
THE NIGHT SKY: The next full moon is the Frost Moon on the November 3-4 overnight.

The moon over Manalapan Brook and its floodplain in Monroe, Middlesex County. This moon is waning after October 5’s Full Harvest Moon.

WEATHER: The National Weather Service forecasting station for the area is at http://www.weather.gov/phi/.

A view from Jamesburg Tower, looking south toward Monroe Township High School, from the spring of 2014.

Joe Sapia, 60, is a lifelong Monroe resident. He is a Pine Barrens naturalist and an organic vegetable-fruit gardener. He gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish-immigrant, maternal grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his food gardening. Joe is active with the Rutgers University Master Gardeners/Middlesex County program. He draws inspiration on the Pine Barrens around Helmetta from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in these Pines, and his Grandma Annie. Joe’s work also is at @JosephSapia on Twitter.com, along with Facebook.com on the Jersey Midlands page. Copyright 2017 by Joseph Sapia

Oct. 21: Beach Sweep with Middlesex Co. & Clean Ocean Action

Come out and help Middlesex County Conservation Corps and Clean Ocean Action keep our shores beautiful and debris-free in this annual event held on the Raritan Bay Waterfront! Supplies provide. Registration required. Please contact Griffith Boyd #732.746.3064 or griffith.boyd@co.middlesex.nj.us to RSVP and for more information.

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