Musky Home River Initiative Update
January - March 2010

by Brian Cowden

April 2010

Franklin Truck Depot Plans Scrapped

The Musconetcong Valley

The Scenic Musconetcong River Valley

The controversial truck depot and distribution center proposed to be built in Franklin Township (Warren County) across the Musconetcong River drew quick opposition from TU and many others who were concerned about the development’s effect on the river. After public opposition grew, the developer withdrew the proposal.

This project would have been disastrous to the lower eight miles of the Musky. Give the size of the truck depot and the runoff and drainage issues associated with the project, TU is happy to see this poorly-planned project off the table. Thanks to the highly organized support from TU grassroots members as well as other concerned citizens in the watershed, the project was defeated. However, this project or another one like it is not off the table forever as this property remains zoned for light industrial use. TU and our partners will work closely towards preservation or rezoning this existing farm in the rural section of the lower water-shed. Stay tuned for developments…

Musconetcong Tributaries Project

TU will be working closely with our partners at the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) to identify all tributaries of the Musconetcong River throughout the watershed. As part of this project, TU and MWA volunteers will be trained in visual assessments to determine the health of the stream and their banks as well as in performing water quality tests, both under certified DEP protocols. In addition, many of these tributaries will be electro fished by NJ Fish & Wildlife biologists and TU volunteers to determine native brook trout populations there. Tributaries that are unnamed will be named and entered into the USGS data base. A named tributary is easier to protect. TU and the MWA will work with local historical commissions to provide names for those currently listed as “unnamed”. The long term goal is to identify tribs in need of protection and/or restoration over the coming years. This will also allow detailed mapping of the watershed over time.

Riparian Buffer Projects Planned For The Beatty Farm

Beatty Farms

Beatty Farm in lower Asbury Township, site of riparian buffer projects

Thanks to USFWS Delaware Estuaries Project and North Jersey Resource Conservation Development funding, TU volunteers aided by the Musky Trout Fishing Club members will plant new buffers on the Beatty dairy farm in Asbury. This farm has been the site of earlier efforts to fence the cattle out of West Portal Brook, a portion of which runs through this farm, as well as riparian buffers within the fenced cattle exclusion area.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 25th and 26th we will be in need of volunteers to add plantings that will add to the existing buffers along the tributary as well as to the main Musconetcong River. These buffers will stabilize the stream banks while filtering runoff from fertilizers and cow manure from entering into the main river and the tributary as well as to provide shade to help cool the water and provide habitat for a variety of animals.

Wills Brook Restoration Project

The Hacklebarney chapter which meets in Whippany has committed to helping the Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative to study Wills Brook which lies in Mount Olive Township and enters the Musky in Waterloo Village in the State Park.

Wills Brook

Wills Brook

This tributary is nearly 6 miles in length, but electro fishing surveys performed in August of 2009 proved that native brook trout have been extirpated from this tributary. While some of the impairments to brook trout habitat are known, there is still much survey and water testing to perform before TU can develop a comprehensive restoration plan to one day reintroduce native brook trout into this stream.

Hacklebarney volunteers will be trained in visual assessments and water quality testing including macro invertebrate identification and collection, and will perform these assessments for approximately one year until all impairments are known and cataloged. Additionally, four HOBO temperature data collectors will be placed into the three upper forks and the main stretch of this stream to record summer baseline water temperatures while also recording improve-ments to water temperatures once restoration efforts are underway. This stream suffers from effects of the old Morris Canal, large areas of impervious surface with the International Trade Zone and ITC Crossings Shopping Center as well as at least one large beaver dam. In the recent past, sewerage from a treatment plant entered the stream, warming it up; however, that treatment plant has been remediated and now discharges into the main river down-stream of this tributary.

Inaugural Musky One Fly Contest Planned

Plans are in the works for a “One Fly” contest to raise funds for the Point Mountain TCA river restoration project. The contest would be a bragging rights contest utilizing only one fly of your choosing while be partnered up with a second angler for a day of fly fishing. This first inaugural event will be held in early September on the Musconetcong River. Stay tuned to further announcements for details on how to participate and help TU with a very worthy cause!

Kurtenbachs Brook Habitat Enhancement

Kurtenbachs Brook

Kurtenbachs Brook

The Fred Burroughs/North Jersey chapter will aid in the design and implementation of in-stream habitat on the lower portion of Kurtenbachs Brook which lies entirely in Stephens State Park. This Musky trib has an excellent population of native brook trout in its upper reaches, but due to the building of Interstate 80 many years ago, the lower stream has been channelized and hard armored with stones. These practices have destroyed habitat and greatly lowered the num-bers of brook trout found below the unimpaired section of this stream.

FSB/North Jersey TU will work closely within the Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative to design and install fish habitat enhancements including the removal of an obsolete culvert, adding plunge pools down what is currently an engineered stone slide, and the addition of pools and woody debris to increase the popula-tions of native brook trout. This project along with the Hacklebarney project on Wills Brook fall under the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, (EBTJV) and TU is partnered closely with New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, our EBTJV partners in this state.

Mine Brook Dam Removal Projects

TU has been approached to help the city of Hackettstown to remove 3 obsolete dams on Mine Brook, a native wild brook trout tributary stream of the Musky. These 3 dams fracture a remnant population of brook trout and serve to warm this upper watershed tributary which is actually located in Mount Olive Township. Princeton Hydro has been employed to engineer these removals. Previous electro fishing surveys show a healthy population of brookies below the lowermost dam with a remnant population between the first and second dams.

See you on the water or in the woods!

Brian Cowden
Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator