Rahway River Fish Passage Feasibility Evaluation. Weston Solutions, Inc. February 5, 2009

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1 Rahway River Fish Passage Feasibility Evaluation Weston Solutions, Inc. February 5, 2009

2 Project Impetus Learned of the potential for fish passage on the Rahway River during meetings with the HEP and local groups Prior restoration experience on the Rahway NGOs had limited resources; Teamed and applied for a grant from the NY/NJ HEP in 2005 Weston pledged matching in-kind labor services to increase the scope and accomplish more work Preliminary Fish Passage Feasibility Evaluation for the Rahway River Water Supply Dam, Rahway, New Jersey Awarded additional HEP grant in 2007

3 Project Participants Project partners including: US EPA Harbor Estuary Program New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission Rahway River Association Hudson River Foundation Weston Solutions, Inc. NOAA Union County, NJ Parks Department City of Rahway, NJ USFWS New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection

4 Background Rahway River Watershed 41 square miles Highly urbanized flooding issues 24 miles long Number of current restoration projects Historical spawning home to several fish species. Alewife, blueback herring, gizzard shad, American eel First of several impediments to fish migration. Bloodgoods Pond Dam 2.1 miles upstream Jackson s s Pond Dam 0.8 miles upstream

5 Project Location

6 Project Location

7 Dam Photograph

8 Dam Photographs

9 Goal and Objective Goal: To allow anadromous fish populations including blueblack herring (Alosa( aestivalis) ) and alewife (Alosa( pseudoharengus) ) to reach historical upstream spawning grounds which are currently inaccessible due to water control structures. Objective: Assess feasibility of design and eventual construction of a Fish Ladder at the Rahway River Water Supply Dam, Rahway, New Jersey.

10 River Herring Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis)

11 Problem Statement Dramatic decline in total (in-river and ocean) commercial landings (pounds) of river herring for the U.S. Atlantic coast, (Source: NMFS, Fisheries Statistics Division)

12 Why is this important? River Herring serve as prey for many species of fish, mammals and birds in both their ocean and riverine habitats Marine striped bass, bluefish, sharks, tuna, marine mammals, etc. Fresh and brackish striped bass, American eel, etc. Piscivorous birds osprey, eagles, herons Dominant converter of zooplanton biomass to higher trophic levels In August 2008, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) issued Draft Amend. 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for River Herring

13 Work Completed Existing Data Review (Dam operator, USGS, etc.) Geotechnical and Hydrological Investigations Structural Engineering Analysis and Selection of Fish Ladder type (Steeppass and Bypass Ladder) Habitat Suitability Index Analysis Topographic and Hydrographic Surveys Utility Search Stakeholder Outreach Cultural Resources Coordination Fish Survey (4 separate events) Permitting Requirements Analysis Fish Ladder Conceptual Design

14 Key Findings Geotechnical conditions favorable Hydrology was suitable Significant utilities found but can be relocated Stakeholders engaged and interested No cultural resource or ES Issues Project is permittable Habitat suitability adequate Parameters evaluated Substrate characteristics Water temperature Density of zooplankton (food source) Salinity Anadromous fish populations depleted but ichthyoplankton sampling did identify egg and juvenile stage River Herring Union County will likely act as project owner

15 Results Conceptual Design Bypass channel alternatives are aesthetically pleasing and, when constructed correctly, can require little or no maintenance. Some cut back of the ladder is required in the bypass channel scenario since the slope at the proposed site is too steep to allow low the fish to ascend. Conventional steeppass ladder would be placed within a constructed concrete channel. The individual baffles within the steeppass ladder allow for higher her grade changes (up to 20%) than a bypass channel scenario. Steeppass models have been shown to effectively pass migratory fish, such as river herring, and are typically easier to install with lower flow requirements.

16 Results

17 Results

18 Results

19 Path Forward IMPRINTING TO JUMP START POPULATION GROWTH To better understand how fisheries professionals view the effectiveness of River Herring restocking to restore historic populations, Weston Contacted: Steve Gephard - Supervising Fisheries Biologist, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP) Jim Cummins - Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) Mark Boriek - Principal Fisheries Biologist, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Northern New Jersey Section Chris Smith - Fisheries Biologist, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Marit Larson - Senior Project Manager Natural Resources Group, City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation

20 Path Forward EXAMPLES OF RIVER HERRING STOCKING PROGRAMS IN THE NORTHEAST STATE NEW YORK NEW JERSEY NEW HAMPSHIRE MAINE MASSACHUSETTS MARYLAND PENNSYLVANIA RHODE ISLAND Peconic River, Bronx River Batsto River, Great Egg Harbor River Merrimack River, Cocheco River, Lamprey River, Exeter River Kennebec River At least 20 streams, Ipswich River, Neponset River, Weweantic River Potomac River, Patapsco and Patuxent rivers, Anacostia River Susquehanna River Narrow River RIVER

21 Path Forward Example Restocking Techniques Larval river herring rearing Catch, transport and release

22 Other Considerations Organize an Anadromous Fish Restoration Summit Assemble scientists, academia, political leaders, State fishery managers, the private sector, and NGOs Discuss means, methods, and lessons learned about issues affecting anadromous fish populations Discuss the feasibility of small and large scale fish restocking efforts Identify funding mechanisms and solidify political support

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