Focus on the Musconetcong

By Brian Cowden

May 2008

Musky The Gruendyke dam on the Musconetcong River was recently notched to prepare for a summertime removal. This dam has been located at this spot in the river since Colonial days. The original dam was thought to be wooden and we may have discovered one of the old timbers while the excavator was in the river. Today, several weeks after the notching of the dam, a riffle is now formed where a pond has stood for perhaps 200 years. After the March 15 – June 15 timeframe during which we are not allowed in the river, work will continue to fully remove this structure. In addition to the removal, two stone weirs will be constructed to mitigate the river’s current drop at the dam as well as a 4 acre riparian restoration of the lands (pond) surrounding the upstream banks. Along with this dam, permits should be in place to remove the Seber Dam which is less than _ mile upstream. Both are believed to be fully removed by early July of this year. TU’s new Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative is now leading the charge for not only these two dams, but for the 2009 removal of the Finesville dam on the lower river. In addition to Finesville, where we recently received grants of $30,000 from American Rivers/NOAA for a feasibility study and engineering work plus another $237,000 from the NRCS (part of the USDA under the Farm Bill) towards the future removal and riparian corridor restoration, we are working with other dam owners as well. Dams are only one small component of the Home Rivers project. TU is working with 14 municipalities throughout the watershed under the federally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers through the newly formed Musconetcong River Management Council.

We are also working closely with the other towns that are not within the approx. 26 miles of W&S areas. Work being focused on includes riparian buffer plantings, and cattle abatement projects to keep cows from trampling stream banks on the main river and especially on Musky tributaries which are important brook trout spawning grounds.Musky There is also an effort to pinpoint sources of other pollutants such as fecal coliform and e-coli and prevent them from entering the river from their source. Other work TU is focused on is to become certified as the state’s temperature data collectors, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Central Jersey chapter. An additional 6 data loggers will be placed in the river by the end of May during which time we should receive our certification. This data can be used in several ways including showing lower temps after a dam removal or showing higher temps after an ill-conceived building project too close to the river’s edge occurs. After the temp. monitoring becomes certified we will move to working with Rutgers, NJ School of Conservation and Centenary College to perform additional macroinvertabrate testing throughout the watershed. We will start with a baseline and monitor insect life during the course of this Home Rivers project. Macroinvertabrate studies are highly valued in determining the overall health of a river system and can tell many things about ongoing degredation as well as improvements due to restoration efforts. As you can see, there is much work to be done!

Brian Cowden – TU’s Musconetcong Home Rivers Project Coordinator