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The Musconetcong River is tucked into a corner of northwest New Jersey--at first glance, it's not apparent that this river is home to wild trout, but this Wild and Scenic River is a favorite spot for local anglers who know that the river is a fly fishing gem. TU has been working here for the last five years to remove obsolete dams and restore degraded river channels to increase areas for trout and other fish to live in. The “Musky,” as the river is locally known, has a history of early settlement by Native Americans followed by early European settlers.
Through the late 1800s, many dams were built throughout the watershed to run grist and saw mills, tanneries and later paper mills on the lower river. Many of these dams remain in place and are being removed by a growing coalition of partners under the Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership, winner of the prestigious 2012 Coastal America Award.
The Musconetcong and its tributaries are home to native Eastern brook trout as well as wild brown trout and state stocked brook, brown and rainbow trout in addition to other species entering from the Delaware River. The 42-mile long river has excellent public access on state parks and Forestry and Division of Fish & Wildlife lands in addition to numerous county and town parks along the river. Anglers are particularly fond of the Point Mountain Trout Conservation Area where special regulations provide an excellent fishery in a scenic setting on the upper half of the river.
Working with local watershed and land protection organizations and its TU members in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, TU is working to restore the river by adding native plantings to shade the river and its tributaries and is working to remove obsolete dams on the main river and tributaries to reconnect native brook trout and other trout species throughout the watershed. TU is also working closely with an ever growing coalition of like-minded conservation and land preservation organizations to further our goals.
TU and our partners have successfully removed six obsolete dams on the river and are working on removal of the two largest dams on the lower river to restore both trout and anadromous fish passage for the first time in well over 100 years. We've restored more than one mile of river channel degraded by excessive upstream development and channelization by farmers in the early 1900s. To provide habitat and lower water temperatures, we've planted dozens of sites along the mainstem of the “Musky” with native trees and shrubs to reduce runoff, protect the banks and to cool the river from summer heat. The river enjoys federal Wild & Scenic designations on 26 of its 42 miles and C-1 protections which give the river and its tributaries 300 feet of buffers against any new development.
Brian Cowden, Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator
Eastern Conservation Communications Director
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