The Peapack Brook is becoming better habitat for trout and other aquatic life, thanks to a tree planting project at the Rockabye Meadow Preserve – a cooperative effort between the borough Environmental Commission and local watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters.
About 50 volunteers pitched in to plant 350 native New Jersey trees and shrubs over the course of three days in October. Raritan Headwaters and the Environmental Commission were joined by staff from the Peapack-Gladstone public works department, NJ Water Supply Authority, and local volunteers.
“Planting trees along our rivers and streams is one of the top ways we can have a direct impact in improving water quality,” said Dr. Kristi MacDonald, science director of Raritan Headwaters.
Jacob Gruber, a senior at Pingry School in Basking Ridge, chose RHA to fulfill his 10 hour community service responsibility. Since starting in May of 2017 he has dedicated 27 hours to RHA and continues to return to Fairview Farm to work on a variety of land stewarship projects.
Working under the guidance of RHA Land Projects Manager George Schaberg, Jacob says of his experience, “I first came to Raritan Headwaters in the spring of 2017, and have been primarily volunteering in Land Stewardship. What’s great about Raritan Headwaters is that they offer so many opportunities to get involved, catering to all interests. Whether you like to get dirty or not, all of the time and effort spent goes towards the preservation of nature. At first, I had limited knowledge on Land Stewardship, but I’ve been taught a multitude of skills that I’ve applied to tasks outside of the organization. Raritan Headwaters is a special place to volunteer, as you will learn more about yourself while simultaneously helping the environment.”
RHA is so pleased to have had the opportunity this spring, summer and fall to work with some amazing corporate volunteer groups who came out to Fairview Farm prepared to tackle any project—from grooming our trails and clearing our fields of invasive species, to assembling well test and stream cleanup kits, to cleaning out our barns and organizing materials in our offices for outreach events…projects too numerous to list.
Partnering with local corporate groups expands our stewardship capacity so that our small staff can better serve the community by implementing programs and projects that directly affect water quality in our watershed’s 470 square mile region.
Raritan Headwaters is delighted to welcome Anthony Adams, our Rutgers Raritan Scholar for the Fall 2017 semester. Anthony is working with RHA to help identify target areas for stream buffer restoration by mapping existing stream corridors and highlighting the locations where there are gaps in need of planting. Under the guidance of RHA’s GIS Specialist Melissa Mitchell Thomas, Anthony is using ArcGIS to identify potential sites and then he will visit these locations to verify the condition of the buffer.
Anthony says, “I chose this project because I thought I can be an asset with not just GIS but with my love and knowledge of the outdoors and the species that inhabit it, especially from being a pretty avid fisherman outside of school. The experience thus far has been rewarding and challenging at the same time, as GIS often presents a wide range of problems to solve on any given project, but getting to participate in one of the tree plantings was a good reminder of the rewards of meeting said challenges.”
On Sunday, November 5, Raritan Headwaters will continue its tradition of celebrating “Lanternenlaufen,” a historic European festival marking the end of the agricultural year and the beginning of the harvest, with two walks through the meadows of Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve.
“Nothing’s more fun than a parade of colorful lanterns on the first autumn night after the end of Daylight Savings Time,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, RHA’s executive director. “Festive music will play as we carry our lanterns through the meadows, and afterwards we’ll enjoy snacks around a bonfire.”
Can you imagine a day without water? Just one day? If you’re like most people, even going 24 hours without water is nearly unthinkable.
For starters, it would mean no morning shower, no coffee or tea, no brushing your teeth, no washing laundry or dishes, no flushing the toilet, no watering your plants or garden, no cooking most recipes. It would mean terrible thirst and the inability to perform strenuous physical work or exercise.
A day without water would bring most businesses and public services screeching to a halt. You can’t run a school or a hotel or a factory without water. Water is essential for agriculture, manufacturing, energy production, transportation and more.
Oct. 12 is “Imagine a Day Without Water” day, sponsored by the U.S. Water Alliance. The Alliance’s Value of Water campaign is meant to draw public attention to our reliance on clean, abundant water – and the critical infrastructure to bring it to our homes and businesses.
From June 15-30, volunteers and staff monitored 67 sites along the North Branch and South Branch of the Raritan River and their tributaries. We collected biological samples of the critters that live on the bottom of the stream (benthic macroinvertebrates) and recorded observations of the stream and surrounding habitat conditions. The biological samples are analyzed at a State certified laboratory and provide water quality ratings for each site.
We added four new sites this year along the Spruce Run, Rocky Run, and Capoolong Creek and South Branch Raritan River in order to fill in monitoring gaps in the western region of our watershed. This expansion helped us to achieve our goal to grow our stream monitoring program to include at least one stream monitoring site in each of our 52 subwatersheds!
On September 14, Raritan Headwaters co-sponsored a workshop with Columbia University and NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), “Informing Residents of the Health Effects of Arsenic in Drinking Water & the Need to Test and Treat Private Wells” at the Hunterdon County Library in Flemington.
Twenty-five representatives from municipalities where arsenic often exceeds New Jersey drinking water standards attended the event. Participants learned about the sources of arsenic in our wells, the areas where there is high arsenic in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, the health effects of exposure, and testing and treatment options as well as how municipalities can reach residents to inform them of the risks. Presenters included scientists from Raritan Headwaters, Columbia University, NJDEP and the Hunterdon County Division of Public Health Services. A common theme throughout the workshop was the importance of everyone testing their well for arsenic and a variety of other contaminants.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is seeking your help in locating harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the headwaters region of the Raritan River Watershed and throughout the state. Citizens can now report a suspected HAB by calling the DEP Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (927-6337) or send a mobile alert through the WARN NJDEP mobile app (available via iTunes, Google Play or Windows Phone).
HABs are caused by naturally occurring blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, single-celled organisms that rely on photosynthesis to turn sunlight into food. While present under normal conditions in freshwater lakes and streams, excessive nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, high water temperature, and still water can cause cyanobacteria to grow excessively and become a HAB. You may recall the HAB incident at Lake Eerie that led the city of Toledo, Ohio to warn their residents to avoid drinking tap water back in 2016. Of the 17 potential HABs reported in New Jersey so far this year, 12 have been confirmed as harmful algal blooms according to the NJDEP’s HAB website.
Nothing says autumn in the country more than colorful leaves, fresh apple cider, horse-drawn hayrides, bluegrass music, pumpkins and scarecrows.
Visitors to Raritan Headwaters’ 38th annual Old Fashioned Country Fair will enjoy a full day of fall activities, food and live music on Sunday, Oct. 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve.
“Country Fair is a great day of outdoor family fun, and it has been a tradition in the Somerset Hills since 1980,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based watershed watchdog. “We invite the community to come out for a fun day in the country that supports Raritan Headwaters’ mission of protecting clean water.”
Perennial favorite activities include wagon rides with a team of Clydesdale horses, a field maze, pumpkin painting, scarecrow dressing, beekeeper demonstrations, and appearances by the Raptor Trust and Tewksbury Foot Bassets. New this year will be a pumpkin sling for launching mini-pumpkins across a field.