Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Vacca

Article by LRWP Streamkeeper Coordinator, Jon Dugan

In this month’s volunteer spotlight, we are going to learn a little bit about the Ambrose Brook and one of its volunteer Streamkeepers, Mike Vacca.

Ambrose Brook Streamkeeper Mike Vacca on the left, with LRWP Streamkeeper Coordinator Jon Dugan

Ambrose Brook is a tributary of the Green Brook in Middlesex County, New Jersey in the United States. The Ambrose originates underneath what is now a Volkswagen dealership along Route 27 in Edison. It then flows into Lake Papaianni, which is within an Edison Twp. municipal park. The Ambrose then continues flowing northwest, parallel to County Route 529, eventually crossing Route 529 and Ethel Road West, it forms a border to some businesses in Piscataway.

Upon flowing into Lake Nelson, the brook takes a more westerly route into Ambrose Doty’s Park. The brook then takes a southwest turn and flows into the Green Brook near Lincoln Boulevard in Middlesex just before the Raritan River. During this entire course of flow, the LRWP monitors two key locations along the Ambrose Brook, selected for the location to their confluence.

Mike Vacca is one of the Streamkeepers for the two sites along the Ambrose Brook before it connects with the Green Brook. Mike started his volunteer days with the LRWP back in May 2019, where he started learning about the Visual Monitoring Program. He volunteers for the Spring and Fall session on monitoring, and often will attend workshops to sharpen his habitat-assessing skills. Mike takes measurements and graded-evaluations of the stream in order to give it an overall Habitat Assessment score. These scores are compared with prior years to “paint a picture” of the stream health of the course of several years.

When Mike is not out monitoring the Ambrose, his interests are gardening, hiking, movies, music, painting, video games, and spending time with his nieces. Mike also likes collecting glass and interesting looking rocks (especially ones that he finds when walking up and down the river or hiking). Keep an eye out for him the next time you find yourself in the Ambrose Brook watershed!