2015 Highlights from North Jersey RC&D Musconetcong Watershed (Hampton to Bloomsbury): Non-point Source Implementation
We are into the second year of a five-year grant funded project with funding support from NJ Dpt of Environmental Protection Water Resources Management, Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards (BEARS) to implement Best Management Practices as addressed in the 319h Watershed Management Plan; in working with partnering agencies thru USDA-NRCS, NJ RC&D was able to utilize grant funds to supplement cost-share dollars to assist agricultural producers in the Hunterdon and Warren County to be part of the 3-year Soil Health Initiative whereby 230 acres of cover crop have been planted at three farms. Additionally, outreach and conservation planning has been started with eight agricultural producers in the watershed as a direct result of the success of the Soil Health Initiative financial support (producers can be part of the RCPP program).
The NJRC&D Agricultural Outreach Specialist continues to work with producers in becoming River-Friendly Farm Certified- the first farm certified in the watershed was awarded to BSB Holstein Farm, located in Bethlehem Township, Hunterdon County.
There are an additional four farms that are close to receiving their River-Friendly Farm Certification both in Hunterdon and Warren Counties.
Through financial support, North Jersey RC&D was able to assist in the implementation of a milkhouse waste system at the Riverine Ranch, a water buffalo farm. Additional conservation resource projects are in the works at the farm for 2016.
NJRC&D staff has worked with the NJ Watershed Ambassador’s Program to host 3 rain barrel building workshops this past summer.
William Penn Foundation- NJ Highlands Cluster Delaware River Watershed Program
North Jersey RC&D staff is well underway in working with many cluster partners as the second year draws to an end to implement the goals of the 2013 Watershed Planning for watersheds in Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties. North Jersey RC&D continues to participate in the cluster process as well as manage three projects directly and we are a crucial partner on three additional projects. We will highlight a few of those projects:
Lopatcong Creek Watershed 319h Planning Process: (Warren County) North Jersey RC&D continues to work with Rutgers Cooperative Extension –Water Resources Program to obtain additional water quality data in the watershed. This additional data will assist to verify the causes or sources of pollution that are affecting the watershed, in turn best management practices will be coupled with the areas of most concern and proposed practices that would improve the water quality will be incorporated into the watershed plan. Project partners have started meeting with the municipal officials of the townships within the watershed and we anticipate the Watershed Plan to be completed by mid-2016. Planning for the future in this watershed is critical the project partners also wanted to get some momentum and the planning has launched to work with a local business to install a raingarden that will capture non-point source runoff and treat it prior to entering the Lopatcong Creek.
Lopatcong Creek-Morris Canal Restoration Project: (Warren County) A challenge in moving this project forward is obtaining the full rights to all the Warren County owned property whereby if this occurred a ‘true’ streambank restoration project could occur however without the entire property under the control of Warren County the project team has to consider alternatives that would still benefit and improve the overall water quality of the Lopatcong Creek at the same time as saving a listed NJ and federally listed Historic Landmark…the Morris Canal. NJRC&D continues to work with partners to consider options and to communicate with township officials regarding the project options.
Model Municipal Easement Project (Byram Township, Sussex County- pilot): North Jersey RC&D is partnering with NJ Conservation Foundation and the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) to work with Byram Township, Sussex County to create a model process for identification and continued protection of conservation easements.
Floodplain Condition Assessment and Project Planning Tool (cluster-wide): North Jersey RC&D is partnering with The Nature Conservancy and the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group to develop a floodplain condition rating system that will provide a relative sense of which particular types of restoration or Best Management Practice could be applied to stretches of floodplains in order to achieve water quality improvements based on a cost/benefit analysis. This is being field tested in the Paulins Kill Watershed in Sussex County.
Implementation of the Neshanic River Watershed Management Plan
North Jersey RC&D staff are into the second year of a five-year grant funded project with funding support from NJ Department of Environmental Protection Water Resources Management, Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, Bureau of Environmental Analysis, Restoration and Standards (BEARS) to implement Best Management Practices as addressed in the 319h Watershed Management Plan; in working with partnering agencies thru USDA-NRCS, NJ RC&D was able to utilize grant funds to supplement costshare dollars to assist agricultural producers in the Delaware, Raritan and East Amwell Townships in Hunterdon County to be part of the 3-year Soil Health Initiative whereby 532 acres of cover crop have been planted at four farms in the project area. The majority of the fields were seeded by plane! It made for an interesting couple of days in September to watch an air-tractor dropping cover crop seed on the fields below!
Cover crop is a practice for establishing temporary crops on all lands requiring vegetative cover for natural resource protection and/or improvement. Although the term “cover crop” implies serving the purpose of protecting the soil from erosion, cover crops also play a role in enhancing soil productivity and crop production.
Cover Crops help to….
- protect soil
- improve organic matter
- reduce compaction
- reduce erosion
- increase infiltration
- improve soil tilth
- increase soil fertility
- reduce fertilizer needs
- increase soil microbial activity
- suppress weeds
- help with pest management
The NJRC&D Agricultural Outreach Specialist continued working with producers to assist them to achieve River-Friendly Farm Certification. Mount Salem Vineyards, Hunterdon County, is the first vineyard to be awarded RFF status.
Additional agricultural conservation resource projects are in the works at the various farms in the watershed for 2016.
Farmers in the watershed were not the only ones that received assistance this year. North Jersey RC&D worked with partner Rutgers Cooperative Extension-Water Resources Program to design and install residential four rain gardens in Raritan Township and one was installed at East Amwell School- all in an effort to capture rainfall to help improve water quality of the Neshanic Watershed.
Completed Rain Garden
Regional On-Farm Composting System
Through a grant awarded to North Jersey RC&D from the NJ Department of Agriculture, we have been working with a producer in Somerset County to construct and establish a regional on-farm composting facility whereby equine owners could responsibly dispose of drymanure and have it turned into usable, safe compost. This project is unique in that the composting process will take place in an enclosed building using a forced-hot air system t
o drive the composting process. Construction of the facility is due to begin in 2016.
Kittatinny Valley State Park- Wetland-Floodplain Restoration
A new grant was awarded to North Jersey RC&D earlier this year, whereby we will work in partnership with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife and Amy S. Greene Environmental to conduct a floodplain and wetland restoration project along the Pequest RiverinIndependence Township Warren County. Funding support is through the NJ Wetlands Mitigation Council. In 2015, various environmental data was collected and the draft design plans for restoring and enhancing the 90-acre project site were completed. Construction is anticipated to start in 2016.
River-Friendly Farm Certification
In 2015, a new partnership with the Foodshed Alliance and in conjunction with the NJ Highlands Cluster region as part of the William Penn Foundation, North Jersey RC&D has been able to expand the program north and west of its original launching grounds of theRaritan Basin- we are currently working with eight farmers to get them River-Friendly Farm Certified. Two farms were certified River-Friendly in this expanded region: Woodsedge Tree Farm in Liberty Township Warren County and Cedarcroft Hardwick Township Warren County. We look forward to awarding more farms with this certification….