Degraded freshwater wetlands, uplands, and channelized streams have been transformed into thriving habitat teeming with wildlife at the Pin Oak Forest Conservation Area in Woodbridge, New Jersey. A dynamic partnership between government agencies, NGOs, and private industry, was formed to restore the natural function and steward the property back to life. On September 28, the New Jersey Section – American Water Resources Association (NJ-AWRA) presented the project team with the “Excellence in Water Resources Management” Award at their 14th Annual Water New Year’s Eve Celebration.
“The AWRA is an organization with a solid vision around comprehensive water resource management – a vision that more agencies should be emulating,” said Kirk Mantay, Director of Operations at GreenTrust Alliance. “We are grateful to be recognized for having achieved this vision at Pin Oak Forest, and are excited to see our model replicated in more water resource projects throughout New Jersey.”
The Pin Oak Forest Conservation Area is a 97-acre tract of open space that contains a large wetland complex at the headwaters of Woodbridge Creek. The site hosts a network of trails that are accessible to the community and are actively used by residents for recreation. Recognizing the need to provide high-quality habitat on public lands that are preserved indefinitely, partners designed a restoration project to benefit both wildlife and the community.
In 2017, the restoration project converted over 30 acres of degraded freshwater wetlands, streams and disturbed uplands dominated by invasive species into a species-rich and highly functional headwater wetland complex. The resulting ecosystem provides valuable habitat for wildlife including the state-threatened Black-crowned Night-heron and Red-headed Woodpecker. Biodiversity was also increased through invasive species management, which allowed establishment of native plants such as pin oak, swamp white oak, marsh hibiscus, and swamp rose. The restored headwater wetland system provides stormwater management, floodplain storage, enhanced groundwater recharge onsite, and surface water flows to Woodbridge Creek, as well as public hiking trails, all benefiting the town of Woodbridge.
Public and private partnerships were and continue to be critical to the success of this project. The diverse partnership includes Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation, Woodbridge Township, Woodbridge River Watch, New Jersey Freshwater Wetlands Mitigation Council, GreenTrust Alliance, GreenVest, and Princeton Hydro.
“It is amazing to witness the transformation of a degraded, disconnected wetland to a healthy, high-functioning landscape in just a few years,” said Mark Gallagher, Vice President of Princeton Hydro. “The Pin Oak Forest restoration project is an excellent model for showcasing a successful approach to the enhancement of public lands through a dynamic multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder partnership.”
AWRA’s Excellence in Water Resources Management Award highlights water infrastructure projects that demonstrate an innovative and effective approach to water resources management. Projects must leverage unique partnerships among multiple stakeholders, ideally including public/private partnerships. The projects must also embody the mission of the AWRA to advance multidisciplinary water resources education, management and research. The Pin Oak Forest Project excelled in these areas, resulting in the successful nomination of the project to receive the award.
Read more about the Pin Oak Forest Restoration project:
To learn more about Princeton Hydro’s wetland restoration services and recent projects, visit us here: http://bit.ly/PHwetland