Volunteers Spruce Up Rain Gardens at Clawson Park

Volunteers recently gathered together at Clawson Park in Ringoes, NJ to install native plants in the park’s large stormwater basin and overhaul two of the park’s rain gardens, removing invasive weeds and planting beneficial native species.

By definition, a rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses and positioned near a runoff source to capture rainwater. Rain gardens temporarily store rainwater and runoff, and filter the water of hydrocarbons, oil, heavy metals, phosphorous, fertilizers and other pollutants that would normally find their way to the sewer and even our rivers and waterways. They are a cost effective, attractive, and sustainable way to minimize stormwater runoff. They also help to reduce erosion, promote groundwater recharge, and minimize flooding. Planting native plants helps to attract pollinators and birds and naturally reduces mosquitoes by removing standing water thus reducing mosquito breeding areas.

Once a rain garden has been established, it is low maintenance and typically only requires occasional weeding to remove any invasive species that may have cropped up. The recent volunteer effort, lead by Jack Szczepanski, PhD, Senior Aquatics Scientist, was an important step in maintaining the health and native diversity of Clawson Park’s rain gardens.

An informational sign was also installed at the park. Designed by Princeton Hydro and installed by the East Amwell’s Department of Public Works, the sign describes the benefits of stormwater management and planting native species.

The park’s rain gardens and stormwater basins were originally designed and implemented by Princeton Hydro. Back in 2016, Eagle Scout Brandon Diacont had an idea to beautify Clawson Park and improve the park’s stormwater drainage issues. Princeton Hydro supported his vision by developing, permitting, and implementing a stormwater management project plan, which included the installation of multiple rain gardens throughout the park. In October of 2016, under the guidance of Princeton Hydro’s Landscape Designer Cory Speroff, MLA, ASLA, CBLP, a great group of volunteers gathered together and got to work bringing the project plan to life!

 Photos from 2016 volunteer event:

The Princeton Hydro team has designed and constructed countless stormwater management systems, including rain gardens in locations throughout the Eastern U.S. Click here for more information about our stormwater management services.

Thank you to Patsy Wang Iverson for providing the photos for this blog.

Recycled Christmas Trees Used to Restore Disappearing NJ Shoreline

INNOVATIVE COASTAL RESILIENCY DESIGN USING RECYCLED CHRISTMAS TREES IMPLEMENTED BY VOLUNTEERS ALONG DISAPPEARING POINT PLEASANT SHORELINE

To prevent further erosion at the Slade Dale Sanctuary in Point Pleasant, dozens of volunteers helped stabilize the shoreline using a technique that has never been done before in New Jersey.  On Saturday, American Littoral Society, in partnership with Princeton Hydro, Borough of Point Pleasant, New Jersey Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, and the Point Pleasant Rotary Club, organized dozens of volunteers to restore the shoreline and prevent further erosion at the Slade Dale Sanctuary using recycled Christmas trees.

As one of only a few areas of open space left in Point Pleasant, the 13-acre Slade Dale Sanctuary is an important part of the local ecosystem, and is home to a number of unique animals and plants. This waterfront preserve along the North Branch Beaver Dam Creek is predominantly tidal marsh, which provides habitat for various birds, including osprey, as well as passive recreation opportunities for the community.

Unfortunately, the Slade Dale Sanctuary is disappearing. Since 1930, the shoreline of Slade Dale Sanctuary has retreated approximately 300 feet, equal to the length of a football field, and the channels into the marsh have increased in number and size, according to a study we conducted on behalf of American Littoral Society, for which we provide engineering and natural resources management consulting services.

In order to stabilize the shoreline, restore the marsh, and enhance the ecological function and integrity of the preserve, Princeton Hydro developed a conceptual and engineering design using living shoreline features to enhance ecological value and reduce erosion. The final conceptual plan for restoration uses tree vane structures to attenuate wave action, foster sediment accretion, and reduce erosion along the coast.

To implement this vision and begin building back marsh, the project team is constructing several Christmas tree breakwaters and Christmas tree vanes that mimic naturally occurring debris structures in tidal systems and enhance habitat opportunity and shelter for aquatic life. Volunteers came together on Saturday, May 11 to help with the construction. The Mayor of Point Pleasant Robert A. Sabosik also attended the event, “The Barnegat Bay is an attribute that we all enjoy, and it’s something we have to protect.”

After the 2018 holiday season, the Good Sheppard Lutheran Church in Point Pleasant provided space to collect and store donated Christmas trees, which were then moved to the marsh a few days before the event. On the day of the event, recycled Christmas trees were transported from their staged locations on the marsh to the breakwater sections that were previously installed in the water. To transport them across the water to the pilings, volunteers used two methods: by walking a skiff boat loaded with trees through the water to the pilings or by forming assembly line from the shore to pilings to guide floating trees through the water (check out the album below!).  Then, they stuffed the Christmas trees between the pilings, securely tied them down, and staked Christmas trees directly into the creek bottom. For extra assurance, the placed and tied heavy bags of used oyster shells on top of the tree line. Oyster shells were donated by local Monmouth County restaurants in an effort to reduce waste streams.

“We really enjoyed participating in this event with American Littoral Society and so many wonderful volunteers,” Christiana L. Pollack, GISP, CFM, Princeton Hydro’s Project Manager for this restoration effort. “It is so wonderful to see this project coming to fruition. We’re so proud of our partnership with American Littoral Society and our combined efforts to revitalize and rehabilitate our precious coastal habitats.”

Members of the media were invited to attend the volunteer event. News 12 New Jersey covered the event and aired a story on it during their Sunday news broadcast, and NJTV News will be airing the story in the near future.

Many thanks to everyone who came out in support of this important restoration effort at Slade Dale Sanctuary American Littoral Society hosts volunteer events throughout the year. Go here to get involved.

 

Arbor Day Bird Walk & Planting at Exton Park

On Thursday, April 25th, 2019, we teamed with the Friends of Exton Park and Homenet Automotive to host an early Arbor Day celebration at Exton Park in Exton, Pennsylvania. Paired with Bring Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, the event drew over 35 volunteers (of all sizes) to help clean up Exton Park and plant 18 trees!

The day started with a leisurely bird walk throughout the park lead by Friends of Exton Park birders. Participants spotted Red-winged Blackbirds, a Solitary Sandpiper, a Wilson’s Snipe, a Downy Woodpecker and even a Green Heron.

After the bird walk, planting and clearing began. Together, volunteers cleared a hefty amount of multiflora rose and garlic mustard, two invasive species prevalent in the park. With the help of our Landscape Designer, Cory Speroff, MLA, ASLA, CBLP, and Senior Limnologist, Mike Hartshorne, volunteers also planted eight river birch, five red osier dogwood, and five swamp white oak trees throughout the park.

At Princeton Hydro, we value working with our clients and partners to create sustainable landscapes that include native plants that will thrive in our local ecosystems. At all our project sites, we aim to restore and maintain our natural habitats and landscapes. And, we love using teamwork to do it!

We were proud contribute the trees for this event and thank our volunteers for all their hard work. This is the second year we have participated in this Arbor Day volunteer event. We are looking forward to making it an annual tradition!

Friends of Exton Park offers weekly bird walks and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Go here to learn more and get involved.

Employee Spotlight: Helping Communities Around the World Access Water Resources

We’re Proud to Put the Spotlight on Natalie Rodrigues, Staff Engineer And Engineers Without Borders Co-President

As a staff engineer specializing in water resources, Natalie Rodrigues, EIT, CPESC-IT works on a wide range of projects from stormwater management to ecosystem restoration to dam safety. Outside of the office, Natalie is an active volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a nonprofit organization that works to build a better world through engineering projects that aid communities in meeting their basic needs.

EWB volunteers work with communities in the U.S. and throughout the world to find appropriate solutions for their infrastructure needs, including clean water supply; sanitation; sustainable energy; structures like bridges and buildings; and various agriculture essentials from irrigation systems to harvest processing.  Natalie began volunteering for the organization six years ago while attending college at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resources Engineering with a focus in water resources.

Natalie and Lola, a student from the elementary school in Guatemala where Natalie assisted on an EWB project to install a latrine system

Her first big volunteer project, which was done in collaboration with EWB’s Syracuse Professionals Chapter, was designing and building a system of composting latrines for an elementary school in the small town of Las Majadas, Guatemala. Natalie provided assistance on several aspects of the project, including working on a Health and Safety Plan. The completion of this project helped to prevent the spread of disease, as well as treat waste without the need for a constant water supply/sewer system. The long-lasting design also increases the health practices and hygiene of the community, creating a safer place for education.

Natalie also served as secretary of the university’s EWB chapter for two years, then became the Regional Administrator for the Northeast Regional Committee, and is now starting her third year as a Co-President of the region.

In her current role with the regional committee, Natalie helps to provide resources for members and facilitates communication between EWB Headquarters and individual chapters. She assists with various mini-conferences and workshops throughout the region and provides opportunities for members to obtain Professional Development Hours and certifications. She is also a part of the EWB’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and the Council of Regional Presidents.

Natalie stands with her 2018 Northeast Regional Committee members at the 2018 National Conference

We’re so proud to have Natalie on our team and truly value the work she does inside and outside the office.

Volunteers Pitch In at New Jersey’s Thompson Park

A volunteer effort, lead by the Middlesex County, New Jersey Parks and Recreation Department and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, recently took place at Thompson Park.

Despite the rainy weather, 78 volunteers and members of the Youth Conservation Corps removed litter from the shoreline of Manalapan Lake, repaired fencing, made improvements to the park’s walking trails, weeded and mulched the park’s rain garden and native plant garden, and installed new plants in the rain garden.

The park’s rain garden was originally designed by Princeton Hydro Senior Water Resource Engineer Dr. Clay Emerson, PE, CFM. Rain gardens are cost effective, attractive and sustainable means to minimize stormwater runoff. They also help to reduce erosion, promote groundwater recharge, minimize flooding and remove pollutants from runoff.

By definition, a rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses, and positioned near a runoff source to capture rainwater. Planting native plants also helps to attract pollinators and birds and naturally reduces mosquitos by removing standing water thus reducing mosquito breeding areas.

Rain gardens temporarily store rainwater and runoff, and filter the water of hydrocarbons, oil, heavy metals, phosphorous, fertilizers and other pollutants that would normally find their way to the sewer and even our rivers and waterways.

On the day of the volunteer event, Central New Jersey received 0.44 inches of rain.  “We got to see the rain garden in action, which was really exciting,” said Princeton Hydro Senior Project Manager Kelly Klein, who volunteered at the event.

Volunteers from the following organizations participated:

  • Edison Metro Lions Club
  • Hioki USA Corporation
  • Girl Scout Troop 70306
  • East Brunswick Youth Council
  • Monroe Middle School
  • South Plainfield High School
  • Rutgers University
  • Master Gardeners of Middlesex County
  • Foresters Financial
  • Princeton Hydro

The Middlesex County Parks and Recreation Department’s next public volunteer event is tomorrow (June 2) in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park.

The Princeton Hydro team has designed and constructed countless stormwater management systems, including rain gardens in locations throughout the Eastern U.S. Click here for more information about our stormwater management services.

Celebrating Arbor Day with Friends of Exton Park

The Princeton Hydro Arbor Day planting team. Photo by George Tallman

Arbor Day dates back to the 1870’s in Nebraska, when journalist Julius Sterling Morton realized the ecological importance of trees, and proposed that all Nebraskans celebrate by having a day of planting. On April 10, 1872, the first Arbor Day was born. This tradition continued to spread from state-to-state, and after several decades, became a nationwide trend. Almost a century later, President Richard Nixon moved to officially recognize the holiday in 1970. Today, the tradition has spread worldwide, and has played a key role in environmental awareness.

To celebrate Arbor Day 2018, we teamed up with Friends of Exton Park. First, we joined their weekly morning bird walk at Exton Park to look out for spring migrants.  The group of about 25 people spotted some great birds including a Green-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Virginia Rail,  Horned Lark, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Carolina Chickadee.  The highlight of the trip was the American Bittern, who was perfectly camouflaged along the pond’s edge.

“American Bittern” by Dana Patterson

After the two-hour bird walk, we got into the Arbor Day spirit and planted 18 native trees and shrubs in Exton Park. Lead by our Landscape Architect Cory Speroff and Senior Limnologist Mike Hartshorne, the team identified the the perfect location for each plant, mostly along the main boardwalk trail leading into the heart of the park.

Overall, everyone had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrating Arbor Day.  At Princeton Hydro, we always work with our partners and clients to design sustainable landscapes with native plants that will thrive in local ecosystems.  At project sites, our goal is to create thriving habitat for wildlife and restore our natural landscape.  We were proud to sponsor these plantings for the Friends of Exton Park and thank their volunteers for organizing this event.

Enjoy the more photos from our event below. Special shout out to George Tallman of Friends of Exton Park for sharing some of his photos with us too.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate “Lakes Appreciation Month” All Year

It’s officially the last day of #LakesAppreciation Month, but that certainly doesn’t mean our love for lakes is limited to one month out of the year. Here are a few ideas from North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) for how to appreciate your community lakes all year long:

  1. Appreciate them by enjoying them; plan outings with your family and friends
  2. Arrange a lake or watershed clean-up event; check out these tips for how to get started
  3. Help monitor your local waterbody; New Jersey residents can go here to learn about Community Water Monitoring volunteer opportunities
  4. Inspire others to #getoutside and enjoy; as you’re out and about appreciating your local lakes, remember to take photos and share on social media using these hashtags: #LakesAppreciation and #NALMS

Always remember to enjoy your local lakes responsibly. Here are a few tips to help you have fun in nature while having minimal environmental impact.

(Pictured above: Budd Lake in Mount Olive Township, Morris County, New Jersey)