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The Upper Delaware Watershed is home to many of New Jersey’s best trout fishing waters, including the Musconetcong River, an area of concentration for TU over the past seven years. TU has worked on the Musconetcong to remove barriers to aquatic organism passage and restoring habitat in degraded areas to increase the available habitat for trout, especially wild brook trout. The successes achieved in the Musconetcong River have provided TU the opportunity to expand its area of influence to the Upper Delaware Watershed.
The Upper Delaware is one of three watersheds in New Jersey that houses approximately one-third of the state’s trout production waters and is home to the highest percentage of wild trout streams of any watershed in New Jersey. This watershed is also home to New Jersey’s only intact wild brook trout sub-watershed.
New Jersey’s Upper Delaware Watershed faces threats from urbanization, sedimentation, barriers to aquatic organism passage, high water temperature and exotic species invasion. These issues, along with the source populations of wild trout found in this watershed provide TU with a myriad of opportunities to apply the lessons learned through work in the Musconetcong River to maintain and expand the range of trout, especially wild brook trout, throughout the Upper Delaware Watershed while providing opportunities for local community involvement and education.
Working with local watershed and land protection organizations and its volunteer members in New Jersey, TU is working to restore the rivers and streams in the Upper Delaware Watershed by adding native plantings to shade the river and its tributaries, enhancing in-stream habitat, and working to remove obsolete dams and to reconnect native brook trout and other trout species throughout the watershed. These projects will be used to educate and connect communities to their local environment. TU is also working closely with an ever-growing coalition of like-minded conservation and land preservation organizations, such as members of the William Penn Foundation’s New Jersey Highlands Cluster, to further our goals.
TU has 10 chapters in New Jersey with 3,604 members. TU's members are community leaders, professionals, and business owners, and are among the most effective and articulate grassroots advocates for protecting our important watersheds and landscapes. In fiscal year 2015, TU members volunteered on 49 projects with 20,266 volunteer hours in New Jersey including stream clean-ups such as the Lopatcong Creek (above). TU is active in educating youth on environmental stewardship with 35 Trout in the Classroom projects in New Jersey alone. Further, both staff and volunteers are active in engaging local decision makers in proactive planning.
Over the past seven years of the Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative, TU and our partners successfully removed several dams, reconnecting large portions of the river. Two more removals are on the horizon. Miles of in-stream and riparian habitat have been improved on the Musconetcong River through the efforts of TU and partner organizations. After consulting partners, TU has embraced the opportunity to expand its footprint in New Jersey by re-purposing the Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative to the Upper Delaware Watershed Home Rivers Initiative. TU recently completed a status of brook trout report in the Upper Delaware Watershed designed to prioritize areas for future work in order to garner the greatest benefit to wild brook trout populations and the watershed in general.
Rich Biemiller, Upper New Jersey Delaware River Project Coordinator
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