Princeton Hydro Offers
Seven Tips for Environmentally-Friendly Outdoor Fun
Labor Day is right around the corner! Many people will soon be packing up the car with fishing gear, and heading to their favorite lake for a fun-filled weekend.
As biologists, scientists and outdoor enthusiasts, all of us at Princeton Hydro fully enjoy getting outside and having fun in nature. We also take our responsibility to care for and respect our natural surroundings very seriously. We play hard and work hard to protect our natural resources for generations to come.
These seven tips will help you enjoy your Labor Day fishing, boating and outdoor adventures with minimal environmental impact:
- Before you go, know your local fishing regulations. These laws protect fish and other aquatic species to ensure that the joys of fishing can be shared by everyone well into the future.
- Reduce the spread of invasive species by thoroughly washing your gear and watercraft before and after your trip. Invasives come in many forms – plants, fungi and animals – and even those of microscopic size can cause major damage.
- Stay on designated paths to avoid disrupting sensitive and protected areas, like wetlands, shorelines, stream banks and meadows. Disturbing and damaging these sensitive areas can jeopardize the health of the many important species living there.
- Exercise catch and release best practices. Always keep the health of the fish at the forefront of your activities by using the right gear and employing proper techniques. Get that info by clicking here.
- Pack out your trash. Bring a bag with you to easily carry out your trash and any litter you may find. Never leave behind fishing line, fish entrails or bait. Familiarize yourself with the seven principles of Leave No Trace.
- Use artificial lures or bait that is native to the area you’re fishing in. Live bait that is non-native can introduce invasive species to water sources and cause serious damage to the surrounding environment.
- Plan ahead and map your trip. Contact the office of land management to learn about permit requirements, area closures and other restrictions. Use this interactive map to find great fishing spots in your area, the fish species you can expect to find at each spot, nearby gear shops, and more!
Armed with these seven tips, you can now enjoy your weekend while feeling rest assured that you’re doing your part to protect the outdoor spaces and wild places we all love to recreate in! Go here to learn about some of the work Princeton Hydro does to restore and protect our natural resources.
“Respect nature and it will provide you with abundance.”
AMERICAN LITTORAL SOCIETY: SAVING BARNEGAT BAY
This Conservation Spotlight explores and celebrates
the American Littoral Society’s efforts to save Barnegat Bay
Barnegat Bay stretches 42-miles, primarily along the inner-coast of Ocean County, New Jersey. The “Bay” is nationally recognized as a unique estuarine ecosystem with a variety of different habitats that many species depend on for survival. Due to numerous factors, but especially the development of its watershed and resulting high levels of nitrogen loading from stormwater runoff, the Bay has suffered serious ecological decline.
In an effort to save the Bay, the American Littoral Society developed a multi-faceted Clean Water Project plan, which focuses heavily on one of the Bay’s key issues: eutrophication due to excessive nitrogen loading. In partnership with Princeton Hydro, the Ocean County Soil District and others, American Littoral Society began work to decrease the volume of stormwater runoff and associated pollutants flowing into and damaging the Bay.
In 2013, American Littoral Society, with assistance provided by Princeton Hydro, successfully secured $1,000,000 in 319(h) implementation funding through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. American Littoral Society then developed an innovative basin ranking matrix. The matrix, created by Princeton Hydro, provides a non-biased, quantitative means of identifying and ranking stormwater management projects having the greatest potential to decrease pollutant loading to the Bay.
With funding secured and a prioritization methodology in place, American Littoral Society then began its work to retrofit antiquated, inefficient stormwater basins throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed. The goal was to reduce runoff through upgraded stormwater management systems emphasizing the application of green infrastructure techniques.
American Littoral Society and Princeton Hydro along with key partners implemented a variety of green infrastructure projects to treat stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to Barnegat Bay. Completed projects include:
- Conversion of standard, grassed detention basins into naturalized bio-retention basins, as exemplified by the Laurel Commons Carnation Circle Basin, which now serves as a paradigm for the cost-effective retrofitting of aged, traditional detention basins
- At Toms River High School North, the installation of tree boxes,
- At the Toms River Board of Education offices, the replacement of conventional paving with permeable pavement,
- At multiple sites, the construction of rain gardens,
- At Toms River High School North, the construction/installation of stormwater management Manufactured Treatment Devices (MTDs)
- At the Toms River Community Medical Center (RWJ Barnabas Health), the construction of a bio-retention/infiltration basin
Education and outreach have also been key factors in improving the condition of the Bay, including training seminars for engineers, planners and code officials on basin conversion and management of green infrastructure; educational materials and signage; and public involvement in volunteer clean-ups, lawn fertilizer usage reduction, and rain garden and basin planting.
Through its work with key partners, like Princeton Hydro, and countless volunteers, the American Littoral Society has made notable progress in Barnegat Bay, but much more needs to be done to restore and protect this unique ecosystem. Join the cause to help save Barnegat Bay; contact the American Littoral Society to find out how you can make a difference.
For a detailed review of each project and an in-depth look at the incredible work being done to save Barnegat Bay, go here and download our brochure.
About the American Littoral Society: The American Littoral Society, founded in 1961, promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm, and empowers others to do the same.
Simple steps lead to big leaps in protecting water quality!
Clean water is essential to the health of communities everywhere! Here are eight things you can do to protect water resources in your community and beyond:
Stop mowing near streams and ponds: Mowing near streams and ponds eliminates the natural protective buffer that tall grasses, shrubs and trees provide. Natural buffers protect against erosion, filter stormwater runoff, reduce harmful pollutant loads and provide habitat for mosquito-eating amphibians, fish, birds and beneficial insects.
- Reduce lawn fertilizer usage: One of the best ways to support the health of local water resources is to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Not only are they costly, but, when over-applied or if applied right before a rainstorm, the chemicals runoff directly into our local waterways. Before applying, always remember to test your soil, read product labels and check the forecast. Also consider natural alternatives like composting!
- Regularly clean storm drains and curbside debris: Removing debris that collects in nearby stormwater catch basins, storm drains and along curbs promotes cleaner runoff and reduces the amount of pollution and trash entering our waterways. Make a note on your calendar each month to maintain a regular cleaning schedule! Read more about stormwater management and download our “Stormwater Management for Lake Communities” presentation.
- Host a “Test Your Well” event: Well testing is a great way to promote groundwater protection, help people understand their role in safeguarding drinking water quality, and provide education around the proper disposal of oil, chemicals, pesticides and medicines. Learn how to host an event in your community!
- Design and construct a rain garden: You’ve heard this one from us before, but, what can we say, we love rain gardens, and rightfully so! They’re cost effective, easy to build and do wonders in reducing erosion, promoting ground water recharge, minimizing flooding and removing pollutants from stormwater runoff. Read all about them!
- Test and treat your ponds and lakes: Testing your pond/lake water is an important part of preventing problems like harmful weed and algae growth. Princeton Hydro professionals can provide a comprehensive analysis and an array of eco-friendly approaches to control nuisance species and promote the continual health of your pond/lake. Learn more!
- Reduce erosion and exposed soil on your property: If you notice erosion occurring on your property, planting native plants can really help! Their roots stabilize the soil, reduce erosion and prevent sediment loading in your waterways, which has a huge impact on the water quality of downstream ponds, lakes and reservoirs!
- Develop a stewardship plan for your community: Bring your community together to help preserve its natural resources. Princeton Hydro’s team of natural resource scientists can help you get the ball rolling by preparing stewardship plans focused on controlling invasive species and protecting the long-term health of open spaces, forests habitats, wetlands and water-quality in your community.
Contact us to discuss how Princeton Hydro can help you protect your local water resources and keep your community healthy for future generations!
“Water is life, and clean water means health.”Audrey Hepburn
The contest is now closed, and we have a winner!
A very big congratulations to Corie French and her stunning sunset photo. She wins a $50 gift card to Bambeco.com, a ton of bragging rights, and Princeton Hydro will donate $100 to American Rivers in her name. Way to go, Corie!
Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the contest by submitting your photos and liking/commenting on your favorites!
Contest Details and Original Contest Post:
Princeton Hydro is hosting a photo contest in honor of Earth Day. We want to see pictures of how you celebrate Mother Earth.
- Grab your camera
- Get outside and snap some shots of whatever you do to enjoy this lovely planet we live on
- Choose the photo you feel best depicts “How you Celebrate Mother Earth”, and email it to: pHydroPhotoContest@gmail.com along with your name and a photo caption anytime between 4/9 – 4/21 (contest closes on 4/21 at midnight EST)
- We’ll post your photo to the Princeton Hydro Facebook page, and then it’s your job to garner as many “Likes” for your photo as possible!
- The photo that collects the most “Likes” within the contest timeframe wins a $50 gift card to Bambeco.com, a sustainable homegoods store, and Princeton Hydro will donate $100 to AmericanRivers.org in the winner’s name
- “Likes” will be tallied and the winner will be announced on Earth Day, Friday, April 22
The Bucks County Chapter of Trout Unlimited (Pennsylvania) and the Cooks Creek Watershed Association were featured in the Summer 2013 edition of Trout magazine, TU’s national publication, for their culvert inventory work in the Cooks Creek watershed. Princeton Hydro was glad to assist via directly investigating and training of volunteers to inspect and document potential culverts in need of retrofit. Princeton Hydro also completed design concepts and opinion of costs for two example culverts. Identified culverts in need of retrofit will help the creek’s wild brown and brook trout. Princeton Hydro based the training on the Vermont guidelines for rating culverts for pass-ability. In this small watershed a total of 97 culverts were identified with 32 of them as potential barriers, and 11 identified as “high priority” in need of retrofit.
Why worry about culverts, you say?
One of the most unforeseen danger to the biodiversity in our river networks is habitat fragmentation through un-passable culverts throughout the United States. While blockages via dams number upward of 100,000 or so, the blockages created by ecologically and biologically inefficient culverts is likely to number in the millions. The majority of these culverts are located in headwater areas of rivers, which entail greater than 50% of most river miles in a watershed; a large cumulative impact. As a result, native key headwater species such as brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the East and cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) in the West have had their historic ranges reduced to a fraction of their former extent.
Historically, culverts were designed by civil engineers to maximize flow capacity and minimize pipe size in order to create the most economical structure for developers, transportation authorities, and municipalities. The unfortunate by-product of such a design approach is that water velocity through culverts is extremely high, often running in supercritical flow, even during base flow conditions, and the smooth and featureless surfaces in the structure make it extremely difficult to navigate. To add insult to injury, the high velocity flows also scour and erode the stream channel immediately downstream of the culvert, leaving the pipe too high out of the new channel (“perched pipes”) for organisms to pass. Downstream water dependent organisms cannot pass upstream to new habitat, and those populations upstream become extirpated due to downstream migration and mortality, and the lack of an ability to return or be replaced. A study of impacts of fragmentation on brook trout is ongoing by the USGS Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center (USGS CAFRC) and others, and a study recently completed documented the impacts of fragmentation of local populations provides an informative view of the blockage potential of culverted streams.
There is hope in the re-connection of stream habitat through new research and initiatives developed since 1999. One such approach is through the Stream Simulation design originally developed in its present form at the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife and adopted by the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as others, and was also adopted shortly thereafter and refined by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Extension (Stream Continuity model) for use in Northeastern States (initially in the Massachusetts River and Stream Crossing Standards, and then adopted in similar form by surrounding states). Through the Stream Simulation/Continuity method, a culvert is not simply measured in terms of hydraulic efficiency, but also in terms of ecological and biological efficiency.
In the most basic terms, Stream Simulation (Continuity) requires a crossing that has a minimum width of the bankfull flow of the natural channel upstream and downstream, plus more width to allow passage of terrestrial organism passage such as reptiles and amphibians (in the UMASS model the increase in width is 20% wider than bankfull, but in the current Washington State model they use 20% plus 2 feet). The other part of the design requirement is an opening area to length ratio to allow the maximum amount of natural light penetration into the culvert (openess ratio), as many organisms, such as fish, are too intimidated to travel through dark culverts. Other design requirements include the use of slopes and velocities that allow for fish passage, and roughness (i.e. placement of natural substrate) to also slow down the flow.
The key challenge for the retrofitting of culverts to be more passable is cost. As with any civil engineering project, the larger it is, the more expensive. To replace a 36 inch diameter culvert with a 10-14 foot wide structure could increase the cost by 10-fold. However, there are ways in completing an economic analysis to justify the costs. For example, most culverts were historically only designed to pass storms up to the 25-year event, but in even more cases, never were sized by engineers. A larger culvert will increase its capacity and reduce overtopping events that would require road closings and worse, cause the roadway to collapse. Road closings require emergency management and road crews to set up detours and slowing down commerce, or worse require repetitive reconstruction efforts that, over time, may exceed the cost of installing a Stream Simulation designed culvert.
Other ways of encouraging installation of these larger and passable culverts is through the permitting process. In New England, the US Army Corps of Engineers, allows for a by-pass of a formal review for their approval if the Stream Simulation guidelines are followed. This approach can save a significant amount of time to fast-track a retrofit. To complement the Corps’ permit facilitation process, the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, have developed stream crossing guidelines to meet the Corps’ permit by rule compliance. These states have even instituted state level regulations requiring aquatic organism passage via the Stream Simulation model.
Princeton Hydro was contracted to design a culvert retrofit to replace a 36 inch diameter culvert with a 12 foot wide arch culvert on a tributary of West Brook which is being monitored as part of the USGS CAFRC research project in Massachusetts. This retrofit will be used to assess the increase in efficiency of headwater stream accessibility by local brook trout populations.
It would appear that the Stream Simulation or Continuity model is catching on, however, there needs to be more outreach and changes to existing rules in other regions of the US. Further studies, such as that being conducted by USGS and their partners, will determine the true benefits of increasing culvert fish passage efficiency and bolster the economics of protecting fish populations for future generations.
Geoffrey M. Goll, P.E.
Vice President and Founding Partner
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