Our Environment

Itís Time to Clean Local Streams

Watershed Watchdog Group to Issue Report on Local Water Quality

Gardener's Helpline

Tewksbury's Woodlands

An Invasion of Water Chestnuts

URWA and SBWA Merge

It’s Time to Clean Local Streams

Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) is looking for volunteers for its 24th Annual Stream Clean Up, to be held on Saturday, April 26th, from 9:00am–12:00pm.  Each spring, as part of its Earth Day observances, the Association organizes clean up teams along the banks of the North and South Branches of the Raritan River and its tributaries.  Volunteers of all ages are invited to join the effort to remove man-made debris that clogs local waterways and threatens our drinking water supplies and wildlife habitat.

Last year’s Stream Clean Up was a huge success as 742 scouts, church groups, community clubs, environmental commissions, and businesses joined individuals and families to pull almost 6 tons of trash from 30 sites along stream banks in Hunterdon, Morris and Somerset Counties.  Volunteers kept a scorecard of all the items collected, including 2,288 plastics bottles, 1,058 glass bottles, 966 metal cans, and 306 plastic shopping bags!

Raritan Headwaters will provide all necessary equipment, including gloves and trash bags, as well as snacks and a custom-designed t-shirt for every volunteer.  This year, in an effort to avoid creating waste during the event, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own water bottle.

Thirty sites that have been identified for clean up at this year’s event.  If you would like to spend a few hours in the fresh spring air and make a real contribution to the health of your favorite stream, contact RHA’s Stream Clean Up Coordinator, Laura Dillman, at americorps@raritanheadwaters.org, or 908-234-1852, ext. 323.  Information is also available at www.RaritanHeadwaters.org, under Protect/Get Involved/Clean Streams.  The April 26th event offers people an opportunity to make a difference in the environmental health of their community.

The 2014 Stream Clean Up event is proudly sponsored by American Rivers, Bedminster Township, Bridgewater Township, Califon Borough, Central Jersey Stream Team, Crown Trophy of Flemington, CVS Pharmacy, Delaware Township, Far Hills Borough, Flemington Borough, Franklin Township, Borough of Glen Gardner, Hot Rods Hot Dogs, Hunterdon County Utilities Authority, Morris County Clean Communities, Peapack-Gladstone Borough, Raritan Township, Raritan Valley Disposal, Readington Township, Roxbury Township, ShopRites of Hunterdon County, Somerset County Solid Waste Management, and Special T's.

About Raritan Headwaters Association

Raritan Headwaters is a nonprofit conservation organization working to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship.  For 52 years, the South Branch and Upper Raritan Watershed Associations served as effective advocates for conservation throughout Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties.  The merger of these two organizations in late 2011 strengthens their ability to address today’s water quality issues and meet the enormous challenges to protect and provide clean drinking water for future generations.  The 470-square-mile Raritan Basin headwaters region provides clean drinking water to 1.5 million residents of 39 municipalities and beyond, into New Jersey’s urban areas. To learn more about the Raritan Headwaters Association, please visit www.raritanheadwaters.org or call (908) 234-1852.

P.O. Box 273, Gladstone, NJ  07934
www.raritanheadwaters.org  (908) 234-1852

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Watershed Watchdog Group to Issue Report on Local Water Quality

Increased flooding, streambank erosion and water pollution are some of the impacts of Superstorm Sandy last year and Hurricane Irene the year before. The increased likelihood of extreme weather events in the future is putting New Jersey’s stream corridors at significantly greater risk. Those were some of the findings of recent research conducted by Raritan Headwaters Association, to be presented at this year’s State of our Watershed Conference, on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Echo Hill section of the South Branch Nature Preserve, in Flemington.

The Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA) will host the meeting to share what it learned about the quality of water in local streams through this year’s summer monitoring season.  In recent years, the watershed has been impacted significantly by flooding after Tropical Storm Irene, tree damage and erosion post Superstorm Sandy, and more intense precipitation events. RHA staff will report how these incidents have been reflected in their stream monitoring data. RHA invites all interested members of the public to attend its State of our Watershed Conference on Saturday, November 9th.  The meeting will take place at the Main Lodge in the Echo Hill Section of the South Branch Nature Preserve in Flemington from 1:00–3:00pm.

Each summer for nearly 20 years, a team of RHA staff members and volunteers fans out across the region to visit streams and rivers in Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties.  Team members measure stream flow, assess nearby land uses, and collect samples of benthic macroinvertebrates—small critters whose presence indicate a stream’s health—at each site.  The samples are analyzed by a certified laboratory and the results are used in conjunction with the other data collected to determine the health of each of the fifty-plus stream segments that RHA monitors.  When stream monitoring results indicate a problem with water quality, RHA investigates local land uses and conducts further testing to better understand the problem, then works with landowners and local officials to address the problem.

The meeting is free and open to the public.  In addition to learning what RHA discovered about local water quality, participants will hear from Rutgers University’s Associate Professor, Daniel J. Van Abs, Ph.D.  After serving in multiple leadership roles as the Senior Director for Planning & Science with the New Jersey Highlands Council, the Director of Watershed Protection Programs for the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, Assistant Administrator of the NJDEP Office of Environmental Planning, and Technical Director of the Passaic River Coalition, Dr. Van Abs is engrained in New Jersey’s environmental community. “As an authority in watershed management issues, we are excited to feature Dan as the highlight of our event with a special presentation on the ’Impacts of climate change in the Raritan River Watershed’,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, Executive Director of RHA.

For more information about the RHA stream monitoring program or the State of the Watershed Conference, contact RHA’s Water Quality Program Manager Angela Gorczyca by phone at 908-234-1852, ext. 315, or e-mail agorczyca@raritanheadwaters.org.

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An Invasion of Water Chestnuts

The Pascale Pond near the Tewksbury Township Elementary School is choked with invasive water chestnuts (trapa natans).  Where children once could throw a fishing line and troll for trout or sunnies, they now get entangled in a hundred aquatic plants that look similar to lilies, without the beautiful flower.  Two years ago, the township’s Environmental Commission partnered with the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team, which brought in an expensive aquatic harvester and helped clear the pond of the noxious weed.  However, seedpods lie dormant in the pond sediment and harvesting is required year after year until the seeds are spent.  Unfortunately, the chestnuts roared back and were more plentiful than ever last summer.  Due to a lack of funds, we are not able to bring back the harvester.

In an effort to combat this invasive species and reclaim the pond, the Environmental Commission would like to sign up volunteers to help harvest the weeds this summer.  We will provide more information about dates, expectations, tools, and the like as the warmer weather approaches.  If you are interested in helping, please send an e-mail to the Township Land Use Administrator, Shana Goodchild, at slgoodchild@tewksburytwp.net, and put “Pascale Pond” in the subject line.  We hope to hear from you.

Christopher Teasdale
Chair, Tewksbury Township Environmental Commission


Gardener's Helpline

Hunterdon County Rutgers Master Gardener Helpline provides a service every home gardener can take advantage of throughout the growing season. Garden questions are as inevitable as weeds, and the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Hunterdon are trained by Rutgers University staff, as well as local horticulturalists, to answer questions and assist county residents in a variety of ways. 

Helpline volunteers cover a myriad of home gardening issues, including providing the materials and information needed to obtain a proper soil sample for analysis by Rutgers’ labs, soil pH testing, lawn care, and plant-, tree-, and shrub identification with advice about the right plant for the right place, recommendations on deer-resistant plants, and disease diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. They can also identify pests, and give recommendations for Integrated Pest Management techniques. 

You can phone the Hotline, at 788-1339, or e-mail questions. You can also take samples and questions to Building #2, at 6 Gauntt Place, Flemington, from 9:00 AM-12:00PM, Monday-Friday, and 12:30-3:30PM, Wednesdays.

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Tewksbury's Woodlands

A number of resources are available for people interested in managing and preserving our woodlands, in Tewksbury. Stop by the Municipal Offices to request these items (or see the Web links, if available): 

The Community Forestry Management Plan, which applies to the Township's public lands,Tewksbury's Master Plan, Scenic Roads Ordinance (#19-96) and Tree Clearing Ordinance (#07-2002) 

Building Greener Communities: Planning for Woodland Conservation, a manual available from the North Jersey Resource and Development Council Web site (click on "Woodland Conservation Manual") 

Maps of trails and woodland features of the Township's Pascale Farm, or Whittemore Wildlife Sanctuary. 

Other information on the Web, includes: 
The NJDEP Landscape Project
GIS-based maps showing natural resources in our area 
Text of the new "Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act" is available on the NJ Legislature's Web site; a quick search by date--8/10/04--will bring up links to the text.

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URWA and SBWA Merge 

New Jersey’s waters will be better protected by the merger of two highly regarded independent, non-profit watershed associations – Upper Raritan and South Branch.  The news was announced in a ceremony at the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, in Clinton.

“By combining our two organizations, we create the largest watershed organization in New Jersey and become a powerful voice in advocating for the state’s water supplies,” said Executive Director Cindy Ehrenclou.  Joined by Bill Kibler, Director of Policy and Science for the new association and Henry Patterson, Executive Director of the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, Ehrenclou made the announcement near the banks of the Spruce Run Reservoir.  Kibler believes, “Joining forces will strengthen our ability to address today’s water quality issues and the enormous challenge to protect and provide clean drinking water for future generations.”  Patterson praised the union of the watershed groups, saying, “I applaud both organizations, two of the oldest and most venerable watershed associations in the country, on coming together to more effectively protect the water resources of the Raritan Basin.  The Authority looks forward to a close working relationship with the newly formed Raritan Headwaters Association.”

The mission of the Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA), as the new non-profit organization will be known, is to protect the natural resources of the headwaters of the Raritan River and the 39 municipalities that make up the 470-square mile region located in Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.  The watershed plays a critical role in meeting the demands of 1.5 million residential, commercial, agricultural, municipal and manufacturing water users within the region and beyond.  The Raritan Basin is the largest river basin entirely within New Jersey, and part of the Highlands water supply system, serving more than half the state’s population.

Other environmental groups and funding agencies have reacted favorably to news of this merger.  “We are particularly impressed by the vision of URWA and SBWA to move toward a strategic alliance that will improve environmental and stewardship efforts, as well as create organizational efficiencies,” commented Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  “We also appreciate the investment in supporting the cultural shifts and relationship building that are key to such alliances.”

Elected officials from across the region have also endorsed the merger.  Congressman Rush Holt, who serves New Jersey’s 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives observed, “Because natural watersheds can span thousands of square miles across county and state lines, too often nobody accepts responsibility for protecting their safety and quality.  For decades, the South Branch Watershed Association and the Upper Raritan Watershed Association have welcomed that responsibility in New Jersey, serving as fierce and effective advocates for conservation.  I am pleased that they are joining forces to fight to protect New Jersey’s water resources in the years to come.”

For the past 18 months, the two associations worked together to conduct due diligence, review synergies and compatibilities and formulate a plan for consolidation.  Raritan Headwaters has a 12-person staff and is headquartered out of Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve in Bedminster with a satellite office in Flemington.  23 volunteers representing a diverse array of backgrounds and professional experience are serving on the Board of Trustees to guide the new organization.

The merger is enhancing the administrative efficiency of the two former associations and building on their shared legacies of public education, science-based advocacy and environmental stewardship.  In addition to its 170-acre Fairview Farm preserve, the RHA owns and manages 12 natural areas and holds easements on 33 privately owned lands across the region.  It offers a wide range of educational activities for children and adults, monitors water quality and organizes stream clean-ups, offers a well-testing program and plays an active role in policy discussions at the state and local level to ensure that sound policies are in place to protect water and other critical natural resources throughout the region. 

For more information, visit the new RHA web site. 

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