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Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:30 pm
by Rusty Spinner
Trout Unlimited's new(er) sfaffer, Cole Baldino, has hired us (Trout Scapes River Restoration LLC) to restore a 1/3 mile reach of the Wild & Scenic Musconetcong River on state land. This project should be done the week of June 18th and be done by the 22nd if not sooner. This property is part of the Musconetcong River WMA and is immediately upstream of Warren Rod & Gun Club/Musky Trout Hatchery. Access is from the Warren side and it is in Franklin Twp. in Warren. This reach is degraded from decades of stone dam building by the club before it was state owned, and the stone dams caused the river to widen. For example, the river at the bottom of this stretch is 98' wide. Many miles downstream where the Finesville Mill dam was removed, the river is only 73' wide.
Musky A frame 3 resized.jpg
Musky A frame 3 resized.jpg (89.69 KiB) Viewed 3983 times
Musky A frame 1 resized.jpg
Musky A frame 1 resized.jpg (98.03 KiB) Viewed 3983 times
This picture shows one of the old stone dams built by hand to create deeper pool habitat. Because man can only lift so much by hand, the river easily pushes the center of the dam downstream into a "V" shape. That then sends the water off the V and towards the banks, widening the river over time.
Musky A fram downstream stone dam resized.jpg
Musky A fram downstream stone dam resized.jpg (133.44 KiB) Viewed 3983 times
This project was fully funded by mostly TU chapter and Embrace A Stream grant funds with some additional funds from the William Penn Foundation.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:22 pm
by Rusty Spinner
Boulders are now on site (4 T/Ls). Excavator comes later this week. Turbidity boom and oil absorbing boom delivery to Casa Cowden later this week. And my crew/partners fly in later this week.
boulder delivery resized.jpg
boulder delivery resized.jpg (136.5 KiB) Viewed 3939 times
I am not looking forward to installing the turbidity barrier as our new one is a full 100' wide, but the NJDEP made it a permit requirement for this job. The do not for most of our jobs. The oil absorbency boom is not required, but we are installing one at our cost anyway.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:04 am
by cappy
Doesn't look like much of a dam, guess it doesn't take much. So you are removing the dam(s) and building up the banks?

How does the river fish in that area?

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:35 am
by Rusty Spinner
cappy wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:04 am
Doesn't look like much of a dam, guess it doesn't take much. So you are removing the dam(s) and building up the banks?

How does the river fish in that area?
The stone dams raised the river above them maybe 2' back when they were being maintained. But that method proved long ago not to work as it just interrupts sediment transportation, filling in the same "pool" they were designed to create over time and the other issue as you can see is that the stones man can lift aren't large enough to hold the river back.
Design Page 2 as jpg file.jpg
Design Page 2 as jpg file.jpg (209.83 KiB) Viewed 3899 times
Our plan calls for the creation of 3 new large pools with the excavated materials becoming point/gravel bars. Those narrow the flows in low flows and allow the pool to scour and transport sediment instead of accumulating it. The heads of our pools are created with large boulders, sized to fit the river. There will be insect creating riffle habitat created as that is the fuel that fires up the ecosystem of our trout rivers. We also will create several small runs depending on how easily or difficult it will be working with the limestone karst ledges that stick out of the river in places.

Right now, this 1/3 mile reach doesn't hold fish well due to a lack of holding water, but that will soon change. The Division biologist that covers the Musky did a creel survey one day where she ran into some members of the club downstream that were up fishing the public water. They told her that they always know when the state stocks trout because they mostly just wind up downstream in their water and state fish look a lot different than their Kamloops rainbows do. Our work should largely reverse that and perhaps some club fish from above and below will find the restored water to their liking. The water below this was restored 10 years ago this summer, but the leased water upstream has not been restored and suffers from the same maladies as this water does (decades of stone dam building).

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:11 am
by cappy
Very cool. Seems like a lot of work for a few days to complete. It's eye opening to find out how much that river has been changed by man. I assume the building of hand made dams is no longer legal? What about maintaining them, is that legal?

Question...Is a featureless (straight and slow) stretch in a freestone typically an indication of a location fish will not live in.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:23 pm
by Rusty Spinner
cappy wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:11 am
Very cool. Seems like a lot of work for a few days to complete. It's eye opening to find out how much that river has been changed by man. I assume the building of hand made dams is no longer legal? What about maintaining them, is that legal?

Question...Is a featureless (straight and slow) stretch in a freestone typically an indication of a location fish will not live in.
You can figure that a river like the Musky has widened by a third over the last 10-200 years since man began cutting down trees to the banks, building dams, forcing high stormwater flows into the river instead of them dissipating in wooded areas where the rain falls (now the woods are roofs and asphalt driveways), etc. As for stone dams built by hands, TU has never gotten a straight answer from the NJDEP which tells me it is legal in a sense or there is nothing regulatory that they could pin on someone doing that in a river assuming they controlled by ownership or lease the bed of said river or stream. But any mechanized equipment used to build or do anything in the river channel would 100% require a permit of one form or other depending on activity(ies) being done.

As for a featureless stretch of river, it may hold some fish and likely does, but you want diversity of habitats and not just one trapezoidal channel where it is uniform in depth and lacks boulders and larger cobbles. Those types of reaches are typically there because of man's interference and that interference can be from many things. They would be characterized by impacted cobbles as in sediment covers most if not all of the cobbles, and that doesn't make for good macroinvertebrate habitat. Bugs fuel the river's ecosystem, so bugs we want and unimpacted riffles are the answer there for the most part.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:47 am
by Bubba Zinetti
Hey Rusty, thanx for the information. Please keep it coming. I think that the populace is starting to come around to the idea that old dams should be removed. Look at the progress made in other states like PA, MA or CA.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:58 am
by Rusty Spinner
Bubba Zinetti wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:47 am
Hey Rusty, thanx for the information. Please keep it coming. I think that the populace is starting to come around to the idea that old dams should be removed. Look at the progress made in other states like PA, MA or CA.
Actually, NJ is getting a ton of attention for not only dam removals, but for the returning anadromous fish into the lower Musky (Delaware Basin) and the Millstone River (Raritan Basin). Congress just funded via Army Corps the removal of the big Warren Glen Mill dam which is now the first blockage on the lower Musky since American shad and striped bass now congregate at the pool below the dam, unable to leap 35 feet up it.

My Musky project next week is not a "dam removal" although the hand built stone dams remain an issue. It is considered a river channel restoration. I'm running out the door to meet my replacement at TU, Cole Baldino, to sample the aquatic insects for a pre-restoration baseline this morning.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:57 am
by Hatch_Magic
Stopped out to see the work, as advertised above, but no action. When is this work starting?

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:05 pm
by Kronk
I heard it was stopped by DEP.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:44 pm
by Pete
Question (I'm thinking about a different river):

Some of those handmade weirs/dams look (kind of) familiar.
If a local group/enclave, with some claim to native American roots, asserted that they were made by their ancestors....
If the dam is degrading the river, does the ethnicity of the dam builder matter?

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:19 pm
by Hatch_Magic
Wait, what? EPA stopped the project because of Native American weirs?

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:20 pm
by garden hackle
Pete wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:44 pm
Question (I'm thinking about a different river):

Some of those handmade weirs/dams look (kind of) familiar.
If a local group/enclave, with some claim to native American roots, asserted that they were made by their ancestors....
If the dam is degrading the river, does the ethnicity of the dam builder matter?
I believe google earth/maps has a time feature so they can see if the weir existed in previous years. If the weir had historic significance than it might be another ballgame.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:55 am
by Pete
Hatch_Magic wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:19 pm
Wait, what? EPA stopped the project because of Native American weirs?
I thought I made it clear that I was going slightly "off topic" with concerns about a different river.
garden hackle wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:20 pm
I believe google earth/maps has a time feature so they can see if the weir existed in previous years. If the weir had historic significance than it might be another ballgame.
They definitely pre-date Google, satellite imagery, and even computers. Photographs would have to have been taken after colonial times and wouldn't establish who built them..... An archeologist might have trouble dating them.
But, IMHO even if they are "historic", the river's natural state is even more historic, (and more desirable).

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:55 am
by barkeater
Rusty states that the stone dam was built by former club members. I realize that you said you were talking about a different river but Native Americans to the best of my knowledge including the Lenni Lenape and the Iroquois Federation did not build dams. Do you know of any dams they built. I'm a bit of a history buff on the French and Indian war and Revolutionary War and have never heard of dam building.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:58 pm
by garden hackle
Pete - the point I may not have made clear was if the weir does not show up in earlier years, it would be proof it is not a weir built by Native Americans. What was a clear thought process in my mind why anyone would check earlier years of google maps may not have been as easily reached by others. My apologies for thinking faster than I can type.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:02 pm
by garden hackle
Kronk wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:05 pm
I heard it was stopped by DEP.
Not enough signatures from neighboring properties is what I read on RVTU FB page.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:08 pm
by Rusty Spinner
garden hackle wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:02 pm
Kronk wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:05 pm
I heard it was stopped by DEP.
Not enough signatures from neighboring properties is what I read on RVTU FB page.
Something like that. The DEP had issued our permit as they have for 10 years on the Musky only requiring the signatures of the landowner(s) on the side you enter the river to work on. They issued this permit back in January, but because of hibernating wood turtles and trout stocking, we couldn't begin until after June 15th. On late Friday, they called and said they needed signatures of the two landowners on the Hunterdon side. We quickly received the one from the largest landowner who lives on her farm. The upstream property is an absentee landlord who lives in the city and who has a local beef that has zero to do with our project, so we just began below his property and will be done with our work most likely on Friday.

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:10 pm
by Rusty Spinner
I'll post pix up later once done, because I have to shrink everything to miniscule sizes to post on GST and my file sizes are 11 MB each. :?

Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Posted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:04 pm
by Hatch_Magic
So, the whole project will not be done? Why did DEP (realize now not EPA) come after the fact and ask for those signatures? It will only be partially done? How much will be incomplete? Hope TU gets a discount. Looking forward to fishing the done part.