Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘stream restoration’

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.

Stream Restoration for New Jersey Native Trout

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Protecting the Eastern Brook Trout, New Jersey’s only Native Trout Species

by Kelly Triece, Private Lands Biologist

Eastern Brook Trout, New Jersey’s only native trout. Photo by

Eastern Brook Trout, New Jersey’s only native trout. Photo by

Anyone already planning their fishing trip to their favorite stream this spring? Sunshine and cool refreshing streams will be here before you know it!


Streams and rivers are an essential part of our ecosystem, providing food, shelter and breeding grounds for hundreds of New Jersey native wildlife, as well as providing water for human use. These wildlife include, macro-invertebrates, reptiles, birds and fish such as the Eastern brook trout.  The Eastern brook trout is valued for its beauty, sport-fish qualities and is an indicator of the health of our watershed. It is also the only native trout species in New Jersey, but is unfortunately threatened by urbanization and dense road networks which contribute to sedimentation, warmer waters and pollution.


This past year, CWF biologists along with our partner agency USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have been working in conjunction with New Jersey Audubon Society to improve stream habitat throughout about 5,000 feet of the Musconetcong River. The Musconetcong River currently supports brown trout, and through restoration of the watershed it has the ability to support Eastern brook trout as well.


In order to restore the reach of the Musconetcong River, pool and riffle sequences were created and deep pools and point bars were established in the stream channel. These restoration techniques provide spawning habitat for trout, as well as benefit the organisms they depend on for food. Furthermore, the restoration of appropriate channel morphology helps to create a healthy riparian zone through the enhancement of flood plain connectivity.


CWF and USDA-NRCS continue to work with farmers and other landowners to plant stream-side shrubs and trees, fence livestock out of waterways, remove dams and use less pesticides in order to promote healthy watersheds. These practices will not only help prevent pollutants from reaching our waterways, but they will help maintain functioning ecosystems that will digest and filter pathogens and sediment. This collective effort by local land managers and landowners will enable us to protect human health, assure clean water and preserve our quality of life for generations to come.


Learn More:

  • To learn more about our stream restoration work, contact Kelly Triece.


Kelly Triece is the Private Lands Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.