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2021 Flashback

Wednesday, December 08, 2021


Here's a look back at all that we were able to accomplish in 2021:

Volunteer and Community Engagement

• The SCMUA-WRWMG pivoted its in-person community engagement opportunities online because of the pandemic but still had 724 participants at presentations and webinars led by the WRWMG.

• In 2021, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with 353 volunteers who contributed a total of 837 volunteer hours to install rain gardens and plant trees along the Paulins Kill, Wallkill River, and Papakating Creek.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG organized a litter clean-up at Memory Park with students from Halsted Middle School and employees from Newton EMS. The event was hosted as part of a Paulins Kill watershed-wide clean-up in multiple towns throughout the watershed.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG installed 4 new interpretive signs in the Paulins Kill Watershed to inform residents about its streamside reforestation and rain garden projects.

In-Person and Virtual Lessons

• The SCMUA-WRWMG Education Specialist worked with the SCMUA Recycling Coordinator to create an Earth Energy Day video with hands-on activities that parents and teachers could use to celebrate Earth Day.

• In August, Kristine and Dawn also created a joint SCMUA display at the NJ State Fair that paid homage to the 50th anniversary of the SCMUA.

• By participating in the SCMUA-WRWMG’s TreeHabilitate program, over 250 Sparta 5th graders learned about the role of trees for stormwater management.

• Nathaniel Sajdak was asked to present at the October NJCOLA (Coalition of Lake Associations) meeting to highlight the stormwater management and green infrastructure work that the SCMUA-WRWMG is implementing throughout Sussex County.

• Kristine Rogers was asked to be a speaker at Dream Day 2021 alongside representatives of Johnson and Johnson, L’Oréal, Selective Insurance, Planet Network, and Picatinny Arsenal. Dream Day is an opportunity for middle school-aged girls to participate in hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities led by female professionals who can serve as role models for the girls.

New Additions to Team WRWMG

• The SCMUA-WRWMG welcomed Ian Keebler as its 2021-2022 AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador. This is the 21st year that the SCMUA-WRWMG is serving as a host agency for the AmeriCorps program.

• In June, the SCMUA-WRWMG welcomed Owen Helfand, from Morris County Vocational School’s Academy of Environmental Science, as its new intern. Since he started, Owen has contributed close to 100 hours of service time in the field.

Delaware River Watershed Initiative

• The SCMUA-WRWMG and over 50 conservation organizations have been working collaboratively on land acquisition and restoration projects to improve the water quality of the Delaware River.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG is receiving funding to create a floodplain reforestation community outreach campaign and install stormwater management projects in Hampton, Newton, and the Paulins Kill lake communities.

• Last month, the SCMUA-WRWMG helped organize the 3rd annual Northwest NJ Rivers Conference with 12 different workshops about watershed restoration, recreation, and economic opportunities in northern NJ.

Riparian Reforestation

• The SCMUA-WRWMG and volunteers from North Jersey Trout Unlimited, High Point High School, Groundwork Hudson Valley, and the AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador Program planted 1,252 trees along the Paulins Kill and Wallkill Rivers in 2021.

• Over the summer, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, High Point High School, and Groundwork Hudson Valley to plan joint reforestation work days that brought together youth living in the Hudson River Basin. Sussex County students had a chance to work side-by-side with students from Yonkers, NY to plant trees along the Wallkill River.

Culver Lake Golf Course Restoration

• The SCMUA-WRWMG was awarded $78,587.65 from the NJDEP Office of Natural Resource Restoration to install numerous restoration projects on the former Culver Lake Golf Course.

• The former golf course is currently in the final stages of being purchased for permanent open space protection by the Greater Culver Lake Watershed Conservation Foundation.

Wetlands Enhancement Project

• Phase 2 of the SCMUA-WRWMG’s wetlands enhancement project at the SCMUA’s Paulinskill Water Treatment Facility began this fall.  These efforts included planting 275 trees and shrubs as part of a training day organized for the 2021-2022 class of AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors.

• In the spring, the SCMUA-WRWMG will be working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to install shallow water habitat pools, warm season grass fields, and beaver dam analogs to supplement the floodplain reforestation that occurred on the property in 2017-2019.

Stormwater Management

• The SCMUA-WRWMG partnered with the Newton Department of Public Works and Rutgers Water Resources Program to construct 12 rain gardens at Sussex County Community College and Newton High School.

• The rain gardens were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of a Kindergarten-college initiative where the SCMUA-WRWMG will be installing stormwater management projects at the elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college in Newton.

• Working in partnership with Stroud Water Research Center, Kristine Rogers developed a new Paulins Kill watershed characterization study that will serve as the foundation for additional water quality monitoring to assess the impact of road salt on the Paulins Kill headwaters and will drive the implementation of stormwater management project installation within Newton.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG’s new $190,000 NJDEP stormwater management grant is now active which will provide funding for the installation of homeowner rain gardens, floating treatment wetlands, and an emerald ash borer tree replacement program in the Paulins Kill Lake Communities.

Agricultural Restoration

• In 2021, the SCMUA-WRWMG received a new three-year contribution agreement from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (valued at $256,251.72 over three years), that will allow the WRWMG to provide technical assistance to farmers.

• Eric VanBenschoten worked with USDA-NRCS to plan and install additional agricultural projects throughout the county.

• Projects included cover crop, a stream crossing, new pasture on the Flatbrook, and completion of a nutrient management plan to reduce the pollution and pathogens entering the stream.

• At a dairy farm in Wantage, additional best management practices have been installed: a covered heavy use area for the herd, a manure storage and stacking pad, and riparian exclusion fencing.

• The SCMUA-WRWMG also worked with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development (NJRC&D) to install a barnyard improvement/manure storage project on an organic dairy farm in Wantage. This is the first time that SCMUA-WRWMG has partnered with NJDA and NJRC&D on an agricultural project.