Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

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Rusty Spinner
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Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Rusty Spinner » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:30 pm

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 358 times
Musky A frame 1 resized.jpg
Musky A frame 1 resized.jpg (98.03 KiB) Viewed 358 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 358 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.
"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Unknown

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Rusty Spinner
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Rusty Spinner » Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:22 pm

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 314 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.
"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Unknown

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cappy
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by cappy » 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?

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Rusty Spinner
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Rusty Spinner » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:35 am

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 274 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).
"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Unknown

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cappy
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by cappy » 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.

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Rusty Spinner
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Rusty Spinner » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:23 pm

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.
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Bubba Zinetti
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Bubba Zinetti » 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.

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Rusty Spinner
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Re: Musky "A Frame restoration" project starting soon

Post by Rusty Spinner » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:58 am

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.
"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Unknown

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