Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘habitat restoration’

Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration gets a “Touch-up”

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

by Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

A bulldozer trims back vegetation as a part of maintenance at the Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site.

Even though all the major construction at our Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration site was complete over the past two winters, CWF returned in January 2021 to help oversee a “touch up”.  Beach nesting birds, such as piping plovers, prefer open, lightly vegetated beaches to nest, and in two years the vegetation had filled in quickly at the site. Using a bulldozer, the thicker vegetation was trimmed back or as the machine operator said, we gave it a “haircut”.

At the same time, the shallow edges of the foraging pond were enhanced. The pond, in particular a portion engineered to mimic “foraging flats”, was a key part of the success of piping plovers during the 2020 breeding season. We were able to expand that feature in hopes of providing even more high value foraging opportunities in years to come.

Initial construction was obviously the most important step to make this long-anticipated project a reality, but ongoing maintenance is an important part of any restoration, as habitat, especially in the dynamic coastal zone, rarely remains static. Still, follow-up maintenance is often overlooked or underfunded, but we know it will be absolutely critical as a long-term measure at Barnegat Light to sustain quality nesting habitat and high reproductive success.

The work this winter was done in tandem with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, our primary technical partner on the project. A special thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Philadelphia District for funding and facilitating the maintenance construction. We also greatly appreciate the ongoing partnership on this project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – New Jersey Field Office and State of New Jersey’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program.

Todd Pover is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Helping Native Brook Trout by Restoring a Stream

Monday, October 5th, 2020

by Nicole Porter and David Wheeler

Brook trout. Photo courtesy of Shawn Crouse.

Many of New Jersey’s streams have been manipulated by being impounded with dams or weirs, or otherwise redirected over time – decreasing their ecological habitat diversity and blocking fish passage for native brook trout and other species. Restoring these streams to a more natural state can greatly benefit wildlife. 

The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, along with assistance from Conserve Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Urbani Fisheries, worked on a stream restoration project on a highly modified part of stream flowing through the West Brook Preserve in West Milford this summer. This vital 170-acre preserve holds the headwaters of the West Brook, one of the primary sources of water for the Wanaque Reservoir, which provides drinking water for two million New Jerseyans. 

It appears that sometime in the 1950s, part of the West Brook was taken out of the original stream channel and redirected to a channelized ditch that ran alongside it. There were also several culverts installed in the stream (including one that was the size of a small grain silo) which restricted flow and acted as a blockade to fish passage. In addition, one of the unnamed tributaries leading to the mainstream channel had a pond where water was being held back by a weir, resulting in elevated water temperatures. The original channel and tributaries also needed an enhancement of a thalweg, the line of lowest elevation that the stream follows as well as the addition of pools, riffles and runs.

Removal of large instream culvert that blocked fish passage and restricted flow.

A healthy stream should have an established thalweg – a connected floodplain – as well as pools, riffles, and runs. All of these features are important in the function of the stream.  For example, pools provide areas for various aquatic species to seek refuge, while riffles aid in the reoxygenation of the water. 

Tributary to the West Brook one day after streamwork. In the picture above it shows a constructed pointbar which causes the stream to naturally meander and protects the banks.
Tributary to the West Brook one day after streamwork. In the picture above it shows the enhanced pools and riffles.

The ultimate goals of the West Brook project included restoring the native fish habitat, improving the overall water quality, and rejuvenating the macroinvertebrate population. 

The work done to accomplish this included:

  • Restoring the river back to the original stream channel. 
  • Enhancing features along the whole length of the stream.
  • Creating wetland pools out of the old ditch and within the riparian zone. 
  • Removing five culverts and the small weir. 

After the restoration, it appeared some of the site is now suitable for native brook trout, and the project has greatly improved habitat diversity in a stream that flows into a Category One trout production stream. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife and The Land Conservancy will continue to monitor the project.

Nicole Porter is a biologist with Conserve Wildlife Foundation.


Learn more about New Jersey’s Brook Trout here.

CWF In The News: Habitat Restoration Project in Barnegat Light a Collaborative Success

Friday, September 25th, 2020

by Ethan Gilardi

Piping plover chick foraging along wrack line in Barnegat Light.

CWF Biologist Todd Pover and the Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration Project are back in the news with a wonderful write-up by Juliet Kaszas-Hoch on TheSandpaper.net.

With major construction wrapping in late-2019, we’re now seeing the project’s positive impact on the local piping plover population. Only time will tell just how successful the restoration truly is, but until then we will continue to chart it’s progress and do what we can to make life better for New Jersey’s beach nesters.

Read an except of article here and remember to check out the video update on the project linked below!


With fall on its way, most piping plovers and other migratory coastal birds have headed south, where they will remain for the duration of the winter months. While they’re gone, other species will happily utilize the new pond feature and habitat site along the inlet in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park created specifically to benefit beach-nesting birds such as plovers.

The Barnegat Light Habitat Restoration Project is a collaborative effort led by Todd Pover, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey senior wildlife biologist, and Brooke Maslo, Rutgers University assistant professor of ecology, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife.

As Pover explained in a recent blog post on conservewildlifenj.org, the goal of the project, begun two years ago, was to enhance breeding habitat near Long Beach Island’s north-end inlet “by clearing out the vegetation and re-grading the sand, because this once important breeding site had become overgrown and was no longer suitable for piping plovers to nest. Plans also called for building a shallow pond to create productive foraging habitat for chicks (to) be protected from human disturbance.”

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Award Winning Program Removes Rubble for Horseshoe Crabs

Monday, December 30th, 2019

reTURN the Favor Honored with 2019 New Jersey Governor’s Excellence Award

By: Meghan Kolk, Wildlife Biologist

Volunteers making piles of rubble at Seabreeze. Photo by Meghan Kolk.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation has been a partner in the reTURN the Favor (RTF) program since its establishment in 2013.  This multi-partner program organizes a large group of trained and dedicated volunteers who collectively spend thousands of hours covering miles of Delaware Bay beaches to rescue stranded horseshoe crabs.

This year RTF was honored with a New Jersey’s Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, New Jersey’s premier awards program for recognizing outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects throughout the state, in the Healthy Ecosystems & Habitats Category.

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Conserving the Nature of the Northeast Blog: Restoration brings back red knots, piping plovers & saltmarsh sparrows

Thursday, December 6th, 2018
Story by Darci Palmquist, Conserving the Nature of the Northeast

A saltmarsh sparrow photographed in Delaware. Credit: Matt Tillett, creative commons.

Even if you’re not a birder, there are a lot of reasons to care about birds. There are of course their aesthetic qualities — beautiful, charming, euphonious — and their incredible feats of survival as small creatures in a big, ever-changing world.

But like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, when birds aren’t doing well it usually means their habitat is suffering in some way. And if the habitat isn’t functioning, people lose out too; on the benefits that nature provides, from clean air and water to storm defenses.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Fish and Wildlife Service invested in restoring and protecting natural systems up and down the East Coast that provide important habitat for wildlife while also creating natural defenses for people. A big part of building this stronger coast is making sure that wildlife like shorebirds have the habitat they need — the marshes, beaches and dunes — to nest, feed and raise their young.

Here are stories of how restoration efforts are helping ensure a brighter future for three bird species — red knotpiping plover and saltmarsh sparrow.

Click here to read more.