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New Jersey Trout Unlimited teams up to improve public lands

By Cole Baldino

On June 18, 2018, a large excavator entered the quiet banks of the Musconetcong River in Bloomsbury, a restoration plan now under way and an arsenal of native limestone boulders at the ready.

Five days later the machine was gone and this 1,300-foot section of state-owned Wildlife Management Area had been restored, ready for use by anglers and paddlers.

The work on this section of the Musconetcong, known by locals as the “A-Frame property,” began as a collaborative effort between all 10 New Jersey Trout Unlimited chapters and TU’s Upper Delaware River Home Rivers Initiative program.

Fundraising efforts secured more than $13,000 for this project and were then matched by an Embrace-A-Stream grant acquired by the Central Jersey Chapter and generous donations from the William Penn Foundation and Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, totaling $31,110 for project implementation.

The A-Frame property had seen extreme channel widening and sedimentation due to the damming of the river more than 100 years ago. Most of the instream habitat had been lost and the river’s natural hydrology was altered, leading to a decrease in water quality and aquatic habitat.

TU, working with hired consultant Trout Scapes River Restoration, used bed manipulation techniques, instream structures and riparian plantings to restore natural hydrology and sediment transport, which will improve water quality as part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative within the New Jersey Highlands Cluster Focus Areas.

Restoration narrowed the over-widened channel, with additional depth and structure greatly improving habitat for trout and other aquatic creatures.

At completion, the project narrowed the river from 102 feet to 68 feet, creating low water habitat that is vital for trout to survive the summer months.

This work will greatly improve habitat for trout, macroinvertebrates and other aquatic species by engineering a series of riffles, runs and pools.

As we leave this site it is hard to notice that an excavator was just there. After the recent rain, wood is starting to accumulate in areas to provide cover, and caddis casings are already forming on the new boulders, which bodes well for the October caddis hatch this coming autumn.

Access to this section can be found at 253 Bloomsbury Rd, in Bloomsbury, N.J.

When Cole Baldino is not busy coordinating Trout Unlimited’s restoration work in New Jersey he often can be found pursuing trout on the region’s streams.