Conservation Spotlight: FORTESCUE SALT MARSH AND AVALON TIDAL MARSH RESTORATION

HABITAT RESTORATION THROUGH APPLICATION OF DREDGED MATERIAL

New Jersey, like other coastal states, has been losing coastal wetland habitats to a combination of subsidence, erosion and sea level rise. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to address this issue and rejuvenate these critical habitats. Grantees were charged with providing increased resilience to natural infrastructure that will in turn increase the resiliency of coastal communities in the face of future storms like Hurricane Sandy.

As a consultant for GreenTrust Alliance, a land conservancy holding company, Princeton Hydro worked with several project partners, including NJDEP, the US Army Corps of Engineers, NJDOT, The Wetlands Institute, and The Nature Conservancy, to increase the marsh elevation to an optimal range where vegetation, and the wildlife that depends on it, can flourish. One of the techniques used for this project included the use of dredged material disposal placement, which involves using recycled sand and salt dredged from navigation channels to boost the elevation of the degraded marsh.

A media statement from NJDEP further explained the process, “sediments dredged from navigation channels and other areas are pumped onto eroding wetlands to raise their elevations enough to allow native marsh grasses to flourish or to create nesting habitats needed by some rare wildlife species. Healthy marshes with thick mats of native grasses can cushion the impact of storm surges, thereby reducing property damage.”

FORTESCUE SALT MARSH

The salt marsh at the Fortescue project site is part of the Fortescue Wildlife Management Area. The specific goal of the project was to restore and enhance the interior high and low marsh, coastal dune and beach habitats.

To achieve these habitat enhancements, the Princeton Hydro project team first established biological benchmarks of each targeted habitat type and evaluated them to determine the upper and lower elevational tolerances for target communities and plant species. Approximately 33,300 cubic yards of dredged materials were used to restore a degraded salt marsh, restore an eroded dune, and replenish Fortescue Beach. The eroded dune was replaced with a dune designed to meet target flood elevations and protect the marsh behind it against future damage. The dune was constructed using dredged sand, and, to prevent sediment from entering the waterways, a Filtrexx containment material was used.

AVALON TIDAL MARSH

This project site is a tidal marsh complex located within a back-bay estuary proximal to Stone Harbor and Avalon. Princeton Hydro and project partners aimed to enhance the marsh in order to achieve the primary goal of restoring the natural function of the tidal marsh complex.

Two main activities were conducted in order to apply the dredged material to the impaired marsh plain: 1.) the placement of a thin layer of material over targeted areas of existing salt marsh to increase marsh elevations, 2.) the concentrated placement of material to fill expanding pools by elevating the substrate to the same elevation as the adjacent marsh. In total, dredged material was distributed among eight distinct placement areas throughout the property’s 51.2 acres.

These coastal wetland restoration activities will help to prevent the subsidence-based marsh loss by filling isolated pockets of open water and increasing marsh platform elevation. In addition, the beneficial reuse of dredged material facilitates routine and post-storm dredging and improves the navigability of waterways throughout the U.S.

AQUATIC ORGANISM PASSAGE: A PRINCETON HYDRO BLOG SERIES

Welcome to the second installment of Princeton Hydro’s multi-part blog series about aquatic organism passage.

What you’ll learn:

  • How does promoting aquatic organism passage benefit ecosystems as a whole?
  • How can others, including people, benefit from aquatic organism passage?
  • How has Princeton Hydro supported it?

Photo by Princeton Hydro Founder Steve Souza

Fostering Ecological Balance in Food Webs

A major consequence of poorly designed culverts published in the NRCS' "Federal Stream Corridor Restoration Handbook"is the destabilization of food webs. Sufficient predators and prey must exist to maintain a balanced food web. For example, freshwater mussels (Unionidae) are a common snack among fish. A mussel’s life cycle involves using certain fish as a host for their larvae until these microscopic juveniles mature into their adult forms and drop off. During this period, the host fish will travel, effectively transporting a future food source with it.

In the presence of habitat fragmentation, the isolation of these symbiotic relationships can be devastating. Some mussel species rely on a small circle of fish species as their hosts, and conversely, some fish species rely on specific mussel species as their food. If a fish species is separated from its mussel partner, food shortages owing to a declining adult mussel population can occur.

Widespread Benefits to Flora, Fauna, and People

A shift in the 1980s recognized the importance of redesigning road-stream crossings for several reasons, including restoring aquatic organism passage and maintaining flood resiliency. Replacing culverts with larger structures that better facilitate the movement of both water and aquatic organisms benefit all species. Roads constructed over streams allow people to travel across natural landscapes while culverts that are fish-friendly convey water at a rate similar to the surrounding landscape, reducing scour in stream beds.

A man fly fishes as his dog sits by his side at Ken Lockwood Gorge, Hunterdon County. Photo from State of New Jersey website.

Fish, as well as semi-terrestrial organisms like crabs and salamanders, can take advantage of more natural stream environments and complete their migrations. Anglers appreciate healthy, plentiful fish populations nearly as much as the fish themselves. Recreation and economic growth also improve when streams regain the aquatic biological communities once lost through habitat fragmentation. According to USFWS, for every dollar spent on restoration through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program Restoration Project, states gain $1.90 of economic activity. Stream restoration improves fish and wildlife habitat, which directly supports and enhances recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts thus resulting in increased tourism-related spending and job growth.

Aquatic Organism Passage in Action at Princeton Hydro

Princeton Hydro recently completed a project to facilitate aquatic organism passage for river herring in Red Brook in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Read all about it here!

For an introduction to aquatic organism passage, be sure to check out the first post in this multipart-series.

Sources:

“Aquatic Organism Passage through Bridges and Culverts.” Flow. Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Watershed Management Division, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

Hoffman, R.L., Dunham, J.B., and Hansen, B.P., eds., 2012, Aquatic organism passage at road-stream crossings— Synthesis and guidelines for effectiveness monitoring: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1090, 64 p.

Jackson, S., 2003. “Design and Construction of Aquatic Organism Passage at Road-Stream Crossings: Ecological Considerations in the Design of River and Stream Crossings.” 20-29 International Conference of Ecology and Transportation, Lake Placid, New York.

Kilgore, Roger T., Bergendahl, Bart S., and Hotchkiss, Rollin H. Publication No. FHWAHIF-11-008 HEC-26. Culvert Design for Aquatic Organism Passage Hydraulic Engineering Circular Number 26. October 2010.

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Freshwater Mussels of Michigan. Michigan State University, 2005.

 

Employee Spotlight: Meet Our New Team Members

Princeton Hydro is thrilled to announce the expansion of our growing business with the addition of 10 team members who possess a wealth of experience and qualifications in a variety of fields related to water resource management.

“The addition of these professionals is attributable to the successful teaming relationships we have developed and grown with our clients, and is our commitment to investing in meeting their respective missions,” said Princeton Hydro President Geoff Goll.  “We’re proud have such talented experts in their fields join our team, who also share our ideals of creativity, ingenuity, quality, and teamwork.”

 

Meet Our New Team Members:

 

Emily Bjorhus, Environmental Scientist

Emily is an Environmental Scientist with expertise in environmental permitting and compliance, wetland and stream ecology, and stormwater management. She coordinates, leads and assists with state environmental permitting programs and NEPA compliance and documentation, including preparation of Federal and state permit applications, Endangered Species Act 7 consultations, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission environmental review processes. She also conducts a variety of environmental field investigations such as wetland and waterbody delineations.  Read more.

 

Stephen Duda, EIT, Project Engineer

Stephen is a civil engineer with expertise in grading and stormwater design, drafting, permitting, soil testing and construction inspection.  He has experience working on multiple aspects of land development projects, construction management and  municipal engineering.  He holds an an Associate degree in General Engineering and a second in Engineering Technologies/CAD, as well as a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Rowan University. Read more. 

 

 

Shaun Flite, EIT, Civil Engineer

Shaun is a Civil Engineer who has provided over 5 years of consulting services to assist with planning, design, and permitting of projects involving land development, stormwater management, water & wastewater utility systems, and pollution control. He is a graduate of Penn State where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering, with an emphasis in hydrology, hydraulics, and water quality/treatment. Read more.

 

 

George Fowler, PE,  Water Resource Engineer

George is a Water Resource Engineer with an expertise in natural system’s features and functions, river engineering designs and geomorphic investigations.  Well versed in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NRCS engineering manuals, he seeks to work with people who desire river engineering solutions that follow sound engineering practices, improve the aquatic environment and have low to no maintenance costs.  His designs have ranged from traditional flood protection features (earthen berms and dams) to fish habitat enhancement (engineered log jams and roughened log stream bank toes).  Read more.

 

Casey Hurt, PE, Geotechnical Project Manager

Casey is a licensed Professional Engineer with over 6 years of experience working in Geotechnical Engineering. He maintains a wide range of professional responsibilities for the firm including subsurface explorations, development of geotechnical laboratory testing programs, shallow and deep foundation analysis and design, settlement evaluation, earth retaining system design, slope stability analyses, and management of geotechnical field operations. He has extensive experience with stormwater infiltration and dam safety compliance. Read more.

 

Elizabeth Kowalsky, Assistant Coordinator

Liz earned her B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Stockton University. She has a background in working with public relations firms in the areas of technology, pharmaceuticals, outdoor products/safety and family wellness. Read more.

 

 

 

Dana Patterson, Communications Strategist

Dana is a passionate environmental communicator who brings a strong mix of diverse stakeholder engagement experience, coupled with values-based communication strategy. She specializes branding, marketing, and digital media strategy, and strives to enhance the mission and values of Princeton Hydro. She earned her Master of Environmental Management from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where she focused on strategies for climate change and wildlife conservation communication.  Read more.

 

 

Natalie Rodrigues, EIT, CPESC-IT, Staff Engineer

Natalie is a staff engineer with a focus in water resources engineering. She assists with various projects that span several topics, including stormwater management, ecosystem restoration, and dam safety. Natalie is a recent graduate from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resources Engineering with a focus in water resources.  Read more.

 

 

Jack Szczepanski, PhD, Senior Aquatics Scientist

Jack has a range of experience from establishing baseline assessment for fish populations to managing coastal wetland resilience projects to developing ecosystem-wide monitoring plans. Jack earned his PhD from URI by studying fish feeding ecology and trophic dynamics across marine ecosystems. He also has academic background in biomechanics, wetland and estuarine ecology, and natural resource applications of conservation biology.  Read more.

 

 

Thomas Wilkes, PE, Senior Project Manager

Tom is a Professional Civil Engineer specializing in municipal, civil, and environmental engineering consulting services primarily in Pennsylvania and Delaware. He is an accomplished and multi-talented Municipal Engineer with more than 10 years of significant experience in planning, scheduling, managing and administration of public works projects, and providing maintenance support for municipal utility systems (stormwater, sanitary, sewer, and water). Read more.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more!

Improving Water Quality & Reducing Habitat Loss with Floating Wetland Islands

Floating Wetland Islands (FWI), also known as floating treatment wetlands, are an effective alternative to large, watershed-based, natural wetlands. Often described as self-sustaining, FWIs provide numerous ecological benefits. They assimilate and remove excess nutrients that could fuel algae growth; provide habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms; help mitigate wave and wind erosion impacts; provide an aesthetic element; and can be part of a holistic lake/pond management strategy. FWIs are also highly adaptable and can be sized, configured and planted to fit the needs of nearly any lakepond or reservoir.

Princeton Hydro Senior Scientist Katie Walston recently completed the Floating Island International (FII) Floating Wetland Master Seminar. The seminar provided participants with an in-depth look at the various technologies and products FII offers. Through hands-on examples, course participants learned how to utilize wetland islands for fisheries enhancement, stormwater management, shoreline preservation, wastewater treatment and more.

“The Master Seminar was truly valuable both personally and professionally,” said Katie. “I learned a tremendous amount and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s very fulfilling knowing that I can take the knowledge I’ve learned back to Princeton Hydro and make positive impacts for our clients.”

FII was launched by inventor and outdoorsman Bruce Kania who was driven by the desire to reverse the decline of wetland habitats by developing a new and natural stewardship tool that could clean water and, in the process, improve life for all living creatures. He found that the answer lies in Biomimicry: duplicating nature’s processes in a sustainable, efficient and powerful way to achieve impeccable environmental stewardship for the benefit of all life.

Bruce brought together a team of engineers and plant specialists and created BioHaven® floating islands. These islands biomimic natural floating islands to create a “concentrated” wetland effect. Independent laboratory tests show removal rates far in excess of previously published data: 20 times more nitrate, 10 times more phosphate and 11 times more ammonia, using unplanted islands. They are also extremely effective at reducing total suspended solids and dissolved organic carbon in waterways.

Due to population growth, industrialization and climate change, wetlands are at risk of rapidly declining in quantity and quality due. However, every floating wetland island launched by FII provides an effective strategy for mitigating and adapting to the impacts of over development and climate change.

The unique design of BioHaven® floating islands means that 250 square feet of island translates to an acre’s worth of wetland surface area. These versatile floating islands can be launched in either shallow or deep water, and can be securely anchored or tethered to ensure that they remain in a specific location. They are almost infinitely customizable, and can be configured in a variety of ways.

In addition to ongoing prototype development, FII offers licensing opportunities to businesses and production facilities worldwide. FII continues to research and develop collaborative pilot projects to quantify BioHaven® floating islands’ efficacy.

Many thanks to Bruce and Anne Kania for hosting the Floating Wetland Master Seminar and inspiring action through their knowledge, passion and ongoing endeavors.