CRESSKILL BROOK RESTORATION
There was time when people were far more casual about how their conduct would impact the environment. In Northeastern New Jersey, only a few miles from New York City, a little gem of a brook trout stream flows down from atop the Palisades. Years ago, Cresskill Brook was dammed to provide waterpower for a grist mill. Then, the manmade mill pond was altered to create a community swimming pool. But after years of disuse the pool fell into disrepair and the area became a neighborhood eyesore.
In recent years, there has been a greater focus on maintaining and restoring wild trout waters, particularly those few which still exist in densely populated metropolitan areas. A study conducted by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJ F&W) Principal Biologist Pat Hamilton identified a sustainable population of wild brook trout in Cresskill Brook. This fact combined with the property owners’ desire to improve their property presented an opportunity for East Jersey Trout Unlimited to become involved. In June 2011, EJTU members met with the property owners and representative from NJ F&W to begin to plan a project whose scope required coordination with various contractors and government agencies. While the property owners were responsible for the majority of the cost of the restoration, substantial monetary relief came from EJTU funding obtained from the State of New Jersey, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Wild Life Incentive Program of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services. Utilizing the expertise of Brian Cowden from Trout Unlimited and enlisting the support of NJ Fish and Wildlife employees, a team was organized to design and guide the project. One critical factor was our ability to work with individuals with specific expertise in stream restoration work. Heavy construction equipment was needed to remove the manmade structures, so a local contractor was engaged to do this work; Urbani Fisheries, LLC, of Bozeman, Montana then designed and rebuilt the stream. Affected areas surrounding the stream were restored by bringing in many truckloads of soil. The final step, executed by EJTU members, was to seed the area and plant 68 native trees and shrubs.
East Jersey Trout Unlimited controlled a major portion of the monies received from the funding sources and made payments to various contractors. EJTU members will continue to monitor this project and respond to any unanticipated occurrences to assure the long term success of this project. However, we were rewarded immediately when several brook trout were observed in the newly restored area of the brook.