April 23, 2012

Clean up on aisle 7…

Garbage removed from the Stephensburg Road area down to the former Cliffdale Inn property in Mansfield Twp.

Two recent clean up efforts took place on the Musconetcong (Musky) River under TU’s Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative.  TU partnered with the Musconetcong Watershed Association on their 20th annual river clean up on Saturday, April 14th.  While final tallies of volunteer numbers and total tonnage of trash are still being calculated, suffice to say we had over 300 volunteers cleaning up along the roads, river banks and river’s channel along the 42 mile long river.  Given last year’s fall floods, there was lots of large and small debris alike in need of removal.

Volunteers from several New Jersey TU chapters were on hand from top to bottom of the watershed, helping to wade out into the river to haul off tires and other debris in celebration of an early Earth Day.

The second project used Urbani Fisheries from Bozeman, MT to remove large trees that fell into the channel following Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee last September, the highest and third highest ever recorded flows, respectively.  These trees hung up on the recently-removed lower two wood coffer remnant dams on the Riegelsville section of the river, only a half mile above the Delaware River which the Musky drains into.  Typically, the presence of large, woody debris such as these trees is welcome addition to aquatic habitat, but several trees threatened to widen the channel and direct flows into a long closed hydro power flume and into a local farm field after hanging up on the new structures that were built after the dams were removed last August, 2011.  Sections of the trees were chainsawed into manageable lengths while the large track machine removed them and placed them on the banks to help build back those banks in time as well as provide wildlife habitat.  Some tree sections were left in the river channel to provide aquatic habitat while the two stone weirs that replaced the former wood coffer dams were tweaked as needed to prevent this occurrence in future floods.

Some of the large trees blocking the channel in Riegelsville.

Trees downed by storms

Here you can see some of the chain saw’s efforts to cut trees into easier to handle sections.

These two trees provided a channel block that formed during Hurricane Irene which threatened a local farmer’s fields from cutting a new channel.

Sawing trees to remove from river

Here’s some shots as the work was finished.  Just last night, in fact, we got a heavy rain storm that brought the river up to near bank full and the newly deposited fine sediments on these restored point bars will have some native seeds mixed in to help green up those bars as the water recedes and summer approaches.

Many of the trees are now placed on the bank on river left to help rebuild that bank over time.

And looking upstream at the finished product.  Two of the three removed dams are in the lower photo with the third just out of view at the top of the river in the photo.

Musconetcong river following cleanup