Tag: South River

October 22 South River/Sayreville Clean-up

October 22, 2022 @ 8:30 am 11:00 am

Please join us Saturday October 22 as we recognize the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with a clean-up of the South River floodplain in South River and Sayreville.

In addition to the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership we are grateful to our partner organizations including Middlesex County Department of Parks, the Reformed Church of South River, the Highland Park Ecology and Environmental Group, the Sayreville Environmental Commission, the South River Environmental Commission/Green Team, the South River High School, and the South River and Sayreville Public Works.

We will be working along the South River on both sides of the Causeway Bridge.

Parking information and additional details in the confirmation email.

August 13 – South River Guided Paddle!

August 13, 2022 @ 8:30 am 12:00 pm

Please join the LRWP and paddle guides Anton Getz and Gregg Bucino for a guided paddle of the South River! Paddlers will travel from Varga Park/Pacers Field in South River to the main stem of the Raritan River and back.  Total trip distance is 4-5 miles round trip.

WHEN: Saturday, August 13, 2022, 8:30 am-noon. High tide is approximately 9:50am.

WHERE: Meet at Varga Park/Pacers Field, 125 William Street, South River, NJ 08882

REQUIREMENTS:

·        Bring your own kayak or canoe.** 

·        Personal Floatation Devices (life vests) must be worn.

·        Prior paddling experience encouraged.

·        Registration required.  Maximum of 15 participants.

·        Event is FREE, but registration is required.

(**If you do not have a kayak or canoe and would still like to attend, please register and then email the group lead: anton.getz@gmail.com.)

125 William Street
South River, New Jersey 08882 United States
+ Google Map

Project Update: South River, NJ Ecosystem Restoration

On February 24, 2022 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Princeton Hydro and Middlesex County Office of Planning hosted a Virtual Outreach Session to share concept plan development for the restoration of a 165-acre coastal eco-park along the South River in New Jersey.

During this webinar project partners discuss ecosystem restoration; contextualize the site and its historic and current conditions; provide drone images of the site; and discuss proposed public access opportunities, recreational priorities, ecological enhancement (including identifying optimal nest platform locations for Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons), and more.

This project is supported through a $249,639 in National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to:

“Conduct an ecosystem restoration site assessment and design for 165 acres of tidal marshes and transitional forest in New Jersey’s Raritan River Watershed. Project will result in an engineering plan with a permit-ready design to reduce coastal inundation and erosion along about 2.5 miles of shoreline for neighboring flood-prone communities and enhance breeding and foraging habitat for 10 state-listed threatened and endangered avian species.”

Designing an Eco-Park Along the South River

By Johnny Quispe, Ph.D., LRWP Board Member and Princeton Hydro Ecosystem Restoration Project Lead

Learn more about this project during our February 24, 6:30-8pm Webinar!

Just 50 miles southeast of New York City, tucked between two municipalities, sits a 650+ acre tidal salt marsh which spans the shorelines of the South River in densely populated, highly developed Central New Jersey. The South River is the first major tributary of the Raritan River, located 8.3 miles upstream of the Raritan River’s mouth, which drains into Raritan Bay.

The Lower Raritan River and Raritan Bay make up a large part of the core of the NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program. Within the Raritan Estuary, the South River wetland ecosystem is one of the largest remaining wetland complexes. While the South River salt marsh ecosystem has been spared from direct development, it has been degraded in quality, and does not provide optimal habitat for wildlife or maximum flood protection for residents. This area is subject to fairly regular tidal flooding (particularly when it occurs simultaneously with a storm) and periodic—generally more severe—flooding during more significant events such as nor’easters and tropical storms. Hurricanes Irene and Sandy caused damage in the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River too.

In 2018, Princeton Hydro and Rutgers University, along with the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Middlesex County, Borough of Sayreville, Borough of South River, NY/NJ Baykeeper, Raritan Riverkeeper, and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, secured funding from NFWF’s National Coastal Resilience Fund for the “South River Ecosystem Restoration & Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project.”

The South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project aims to:

  • Reduce socioeconomic damages to the Boroughs of South River and Sayreville caused by storm damage, flooding, and sea level rise;
  • Transform degraded wetlands to high-quality marsh that can reduce flooding and enhance fish & wildlife habitat; and
  • Engage stakeholders in activities about coastal resilience and ecological health to maximize public outreach in the Raritan River Watershed.

For this 165-acre tidal marsh and transitional forest “eco-park,” the project team is conducting an ecosystem restoration site assessment and design. This phase of the coastal restoration project will result in a permit-ready engineering design plan that stabilizes approximately 2.5 miles of shoreline, reduces flood risk for smaller coastal storms, and enhances breeding and foraging habitat for 10 state-listed threatened and endangered avian species.

Project Area History

This area has experienced repeated flooding, especially during large storms. For example, coastal areas of Sayreville and South River flooded after Hurricane Floyd (1999), Tropical Storm Ernesto (2006), Hurricane Irene (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012). Over the last century, there have been several studies and assessments completed for the South River, many of which identify this project area as a priority location for flooding improvements. The following are key reports and studies published about the project area and surrounding communities:

1930s

  • NJ Legislature’s 71st Congress published a report, “Basinwide Water Resource Development Report on the Raritan River Basin” which focused on navigation and flood control for the entire Raritan River Basin. It discussed recommendations for flood control and local storm drainage, setting the stage for future actions.

1970s

  • NJDEP Division of Water Resources published Flood Hazard Reports for the Matchaponix Brook System and Raritan River Basin, which delineated the floodplains in the South River, and its tributaries, the Manalapan Brook and Matchaponix Brook.

1980s

  • USACE New York District released a “Survey Report for Flood Control, Raritan River Basin,” which served as a comprehensive study of the Raritan River Basin and recommended several additional studies. Although the South River was studied, none of the proposed improvements were determined to be economically feasible at that time.
  • Project area was listed as one of the Nation’s Estuaries of National Significance.

1990s

  • USACE conducted a multi-purpose study of this area. This preliminary investigation identified Federal interest in Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction and ecosystem restoration along the South River and concluded that a 100-year level of structural protection would be technically and economically feasible.

2000s

  • USACE NYD and NJDEP released a joint draft, “Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement” for the South River, Raritan River Basin, which focused on “Hurricane & Storm Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration.” Because it was previously determined that there were no widespread flooding problems upstream, the study area was modified to focus on the flood-prone areas within the Boroughs of Sayreville and South River, as well as Old Bridge Township.

Towards a More Resilient South River Ecosystem

Through collaboration with our project partners and following input provided from a virtual stakeholder meeting held in December 2020, Princeton Hydro developed a conceptual design for an eco-park that incorporates habitat enhancement and restoration, and protective measures to reduce impacts from flooding while maximizing public access and utility. Public access includes trails for walking and designated areas for fishing. The eco-park can also be used for additional recreation activities such as bird watching and kayaking.

Highlights of the conceptual design include the following features:

  • Approximately two miles of trails with overlook areas, connection to fishing access, and a kayak launch.
  • ~3,000 linear feet of living shoreline, located along portions of the Washington Canal and the South River, to provide protection from erosion, reduce the wake and wave action, and provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms.
  • ~60 acres of enhanced upland forest to provide contiguous habitat areas for resident and migratory fauna.
  • A tidal channel that will connect to the existing mud flat on the southeastern part of the site and provide tidal flushing to proposed low and high marsh habitats along its banks.
  • A vegetated berm with a trail atop will extend the length of the site to help mitigate flood risk.
  • Two nesting platforms for Osprey, a species listed as “Threatened” in NJ
  • Designated nesting habitat for the Diamondback Terrapin, a species listed as “Special Concern” in NJ

Save the date! March 21 TIRE HAUL clean-up in Old Bridge

TIRES. so. VERY. many. TIRES!

WHAT: A clean-up of the Old Bridge portion of the South River floodplain

WHEN: Sunday March 21, 9am-noon

WHERE: Park at Miller Elementary School / 2 Old Matawan Rd / Old Bridge, NJ 08857, follow signs to the clean-up staging area behind the school

WHO: The LRWP, our Central Jersey Stream Team friends, Middlesex County Division of Parks, and the Township of Old Bridge

WHY: What better way to celebrate the vernal equinox than with a clean-up?!

It is not just tires, there is plenty of other litter in the floodplain – we’ll need folks willing to pick up plastic bottles and cans as well as those who can heave, hoist and lift the larger items.

In times of Covid, REGISTRATION is REQUIRED!

 

Meet LRWP Board Member Johnny Quispe!

Interview by Emily Koai, LRWP Spring 2020 Raritan Scholar

Johnny Quispe, born and raised in New Jersey’s Hackensack Watershed (Hudson County), started his B.S. at Rutgers – New Brunswick in 2009, then returned in 2014 to pursue a masters in Ecology. Johnny is now working on his doctorate in the lab of Jean Marie Hartman, an associate professor of Landscape Architecture. Through Professor Hartman, Johnny met Heather Fenyk, Board President of the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, and began collaborating with the LRWP on Raritan River-focused research. Johnny joined the LRWP Board in 2019 with the goal of expanding on his passion for advocacy for the river through community outreach. His current outreach involves work in South River and Sayreville on the South River Ecosystems Project, which has evolved through support from a diversity of stakeholders. Johnny recently secured a $249,000 National Fish and Wildlife Federation grant for project preliminary design and site assessment for the South River Ecosystem Restoration & Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project. Johnny seeks to guide this project through design to ultimately improve public access to the Raritan.

EK: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

JQ: I first came to Rutgers in 2009 and wanted to pursue environmental policy. In addition to learning about local, municipal and federal policies, I started interning at a local non-profit, Edison Wetlands Association (EWA). That advocacy experience really helped me see policy play out on the ground. I attended a Coastal Estuarine Research Federation conference which opened my eyes to how sea level rise is going to impact wetlands. I decided early on to focus my studies on the Raritan and Raritan Bay, looking at the impacts that sea level and a changing climate has on, not only coastal ecosystems, but coastal communities.

I returned to Rutgers in 2014 to work under Jean Marie Hartman, starting a masters in ecology, the study of an organism and its interactions with its environment or with other organisms. I saw this as another way of looking at the world. Jean Marie really let my imagination fly. She gave me the opportunity to work on several projects with her, on all ranges of things. That’s when the connection between the importance of wetlands and what I had been advocating for in my internship really came together.

EK: Your research explores the relationship between sea level rise (SLR) and coastal wetlands and its impacts on the vulnerabilities of coastal areas. Is there anything specifically about the subject that you wanted to communicate to a wider audience?

JQ: There are many ways in which we can perceive risk. Sometimes we look at things one-dimensionally. When we look at coastal ecosystems we use different lenses: an environmental lens, a natural resource lens, and sometimes in terms of zoning. So how can we look at development and create positive opportunities for communities to build themselves up? How do we identify and prioritize these locations and bring more attention to these areas?

Sea level rise is not created equal. There are areas that are more at risk than others. This is subject to change as we continue to make decisions which can accelerate this change in sea level. As a society, we can start making significant changes. Some of these impacts may take a little longer to become realized, so we need communities, municipalities, the state, and federal government to all start thinking with a longer-term lens.

This means that planning boards and town councils should take a long range view of zoning: not just 10 or 20 years. 30 years is often seen as the lifetime of a structure, but you see even that expanding. How are we preparing for 2050 and beyond?

Everyone else’s risk is still kind of the same if municipalities put resources into their own municipal boundaries. Sometimes that is shortsighted. Taking a watershed or regional view to partner with other municipalities and the state, you can design projects that have more lasting impacts. There has to be cross pollination between our municipalities, and lead efforts by the state, to take a step up and organize at the larger, landscape scale.

EK: How have you directly encouraged policy-makers, municipalities, and individuals on the path of enhancing their own roles?

JQ: Experts at all levels need to listen to people. We need to listen to what the needs are. That is where you’ll find all the information you need about a location. I think, as well intentioned as researchers, government officials, and others may be, sometimes they make change without consulting the people that change is going to affect. Understandably, this leaves a sour feeling with the community.

Having buy in from stakeholders is important. I meet with community members, stakeholders, folks from different nonprofits in the area, and people from different settings. I think everyone has a stake in it, so they want to be part of the process. If you eliminate the possibility for groups to be part of planning, they ultimately feel that they’re being subjected to the change. Sharing these ideas in public meetings that are accessible and allowing participation is important.

As we continue to see these impacts in coastal communities across the US, these are the kind of processes that are going to have to happen. Otherwise we have unsolicited buybacks and changes being made without much buy-in from the community. You’re going to have a lot of pushback and a lot of people who are unhappy.

EK: Is there anything you think is key to trying to get the whole process to come together?

JQ: I think researchers or officials looking to make changes really need to embed themselves in the community—to be part of that community, otherwise you’re just going to be seen as the third party coming in and telling the community what’s best for them.

I’ve been working in the Lower Raritan since 2009, and have established relationships that have blossomed into my current projects. My time working in a local non-profit really allowed me to meet all the non-profit stakeholders and people who have been fighting to make the Raritan a better place for the last 20-30 years.

I think what everyone needs to do is find a champion—someone who they can align themselves with to help them push some of these ideas forward. If you’re not part of the community, who is part of the community, and how can you work with that person to really get the facts and get the message out there? That’s what’s really key. My hope is to identify champions along the east coast who can really get these kinds of projects started. I see myself more as a bridge-builder—someone who is bringing people together, really letting some ideas simmer and take them and try as much as I can, with the help of others, to bring those to fruition.

CANCELLED March 21 – South River floodplain clean-up in Old Bridge

TIRES. so. VERY. many. TIRES!

WHAT: A clean-up of the Old Bridge portion of the South River floodplain

WHEN: Saturday March 21, 12:30-3 pm

WHERE: Park at Miller Elementary School / 2 Old Matawan Rd / Old Bridge, NJ 08857, follow signs to the clean-up staging area behind the school

WHO: The LRWP, our Central Jersey Stream Team friends, Middlesex County Division of Parks, and the Township of Old Bridge

WHY: What better way to celebrate the vernal equinox than with a clean-up?!

It is not just tires, there is plenty of other litter in the floodplain – we’ll need folks willing to pick up plastic bottles and cans as well as those who can heave, hoist and lift the larger items.

REGISTRATION REQUESTED

 

Resilience Meeting with South River Green Team

On Saturday February 1 the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership and the Rutgers Bloustein School Environmental Planning Studio will join the South River Green Team and the larger South River community for a conversation about resiliency in the context of riverine/coastal flooding and floodplain buyouts prompted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. We will discuss research tasks the Environmental Planning Studio students will engage in during the course of the Spring 2020 semester, including work on a Sustainable Jersey “Water Story” action. Our discussion will be followed by a tour of the flood affected areas.
South River residents, and residents of the larger Lower Raritan Watershed, are welcome to join.
We will meet at the First Reformed Church, 40 Thomas St., Lower Level at 1 pm.
Parking is available in the lot that can be entered through the drive between 42 and 44 Thomas Street.
Agenda:
1 p.m. — Planning studio meets the Green Team
1:30 p.m. — Sustainable Jersey staff and partners join
2:30 p.m. — Tour of flood areas
Special attention will be given to South River’s Census Tract 69, home to a low socio-economic status immigrant community with a life expectancy well lower than the national average. Residents in Census Tract 69 have a four-year lower life expectancy than in neighboring tracts in South River, and the lowest in Middlesex County.
Throughout the course of the semester students will work to understand how coastal/riverine flooding, buyouts, open space, and water infrastructure (water supply, wastewater, stormwater) affects health outcomes. This will include analysis of development and neighborhood change patterns, living conditions, demographic shifts and what the long-term implications of this change may be for the region and other flood-inundated riverine and coastal areas.
Please contact the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership for more information: #908.349.0281

Share your water story!

The LRWP and South River Green Team are co-hosting this hour-long public discussion, sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, to capture stories about the different ways water matters to New Jerseyans.

Participants will have the opportunity to contribute their water story to a statewide public archive documenting personal connections to water and waterways in New Jersey. No prior preparation is needed to attend, and all are welcome to share or listen.

Join us Saturday February 8, 1:30-2:30 pm at the South River Public Library
55 Appleby Ave, South River, NJ 08882

Workshop Overview

This workshop creates the space to talk about meaningful water sites and sources for individuals and communities in New Jersey. Stories from consenting participants captured from this event, and others throughout the state, will be part of a public archive and digital exhibition that creatively visualizes, interprets, and maps New Jersey water stories and the waterways that inspired them. After capturing water stories in each county over the next year, project coordinators will curate a digital exhibition (website) to interpret, display, and share water stories.

Refreshments provided. Registration requested.

NFWF Funding – South River Restoration and Resiliency

Many thanks, and huge congrats, to LRWP Board Member Johnny Quispe for coordinating grant development for support through NFWF’s 2019 Coastal Resilience Fund.

It was announced earlier this week that $249,639 in National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) funds will go to develop the “South River Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Resiliency Enhancement Project (NJ)”.

More specifically, these monies will support Princeton Hydro and other watershed partners to:

“Conduct an ecosystem restoration site assessment and design for 165 acres of tidal marshes and transitional forest in New Jersey’s Raritan River Watershed. Project will result in an engineering plan with a permit-ready design to reduce coastal inundation and erosion along about 2.5 miles of shoreline for neighboring flood-prone communities and enhance breeding and foraging habitat for 10 state-listed threatened and endangered avian species.”

More information on the specific awards can be found here:

https://www.nfwf.org/coastalresilience/Documents/2019grantslate.pdf

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