State of the Rahway River Conference
On January 12, 2008 over ninety stakeholders attended the Rahway
River Association's State of the Rahway River Watershed to hear a
panoply of speakers assess the status of water quality, open space
and biodiversity. Whether you absorbed the uphill challenge we face
to improving water quality of the river as Kirk Barrett stressed or
heard of the arduous steps outlined by Cindy Roberts that are needed
to preserve open space in urban areas or listened intently of the
hope found by Emile DeVito in discovering natural treasures found
hidden within the region's last natural areas, the Rahway River
watershed is a model urban watershed. Here, the Rahway River
Association is working with countless stakeholders; community
organizations, elected leaders, public officials and private
individuals to address these issues throughout the watershed. We
honored heroes and heroines of the Rahway River Watershed where we
recognized Union County Board of Chosen Freeholder B.J. Kowalski for
her commitment and leadership on environmental issues by giving her
the first annual Martine Donofrio Champion of the Rahway River
Watershed Award. Jimmy Lynch, founder and former President of the
RRA was feted by the City of Rahway Mayor James Kennedy for Lifetime
On behalf of the RRA Board of Trustees, we wish to thank everyone who assisted in the development and successful implementation of the State of the Rahway River Watershed Conference. Special thanks to the speakers Wolfgang Skacel, Deputy Commissioner of the NJDEP, Adam Zellner, Public Policy Advisor to Governor Corzine, Dr. Kirk Barrett, PhD., Director of the Passaic River Institute located at Montclair University, Cindy Gilbert, Senior Project Manager of the Trust for Public Land and Dr. Emile DeVito, PhD., Director of Conservation Biology for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. For more details or to view the presentations please click on a title to the right.
With the Union County Parks Department and scores of volunteers,
the Rahway River Association conducted the first ever bioblitz
of an urban park in New Jersey. We counted over 500 species of
plants and animals at Lenape Park in 2005 and in Ashbrook
Reservation in 2006.
The public participated enthusiastically in the education programs and interpretive walks by volunteer scientists who revealed the rich diversity of wildlife that can still found in our parks today!
If you or your organization would like to conduct your own bioblitz, the Rahway River Association has established Procedures to guide through the process. For more information click here.
In a mountain pass between the First and Second Watchung Mountains,
Seeley's Pond is a bucolic refuge in the wilds of Union County.
A thousand feet above the rushing rumble of Route 22, the southern
edge of Union County's Watchung Reservation is a cathedral of
towering oak and tulip trees. Here, rivers of Yellow Iris
frame the water's edge. Here, the approach of human steps
sends every wary Green Frogs leaping into their concealed hideaways
among the sedges. The air resounds with the melodious
vocalizations of Scarlet Tanager, Yellow Throated Vireo and Carolina
Wren in timeless repetition, another nesting season has begun.
Regarded as the "Jewel of the Union County park system," the Watchung Reservation is a protected nature preserve of diverse habitats along the ridge of the Watchung Mountains with an extensive climax forest, mountain glades, stream corridors, ponds and conifer plantations.
Restoring the Riparian Corridor
Robinson’s Branch of the Rahway River in Cranford
Perhaps, one of the longest continuously urbanized waterway in
New Jersey, the Rahway River has been reduced to a concrete culvert
along many stretches of the various branches of the river in the
watershed. A culverted river is typically a slow, meandering
waterway devoid of aquatic life, riparian corridor and filled with
man made floatable detritus.
Removing fill and man-made construction material from the riverbed and restoring the vegetated river corridor are among the goals of a unique partnership between the City of Rahway and the Rahway River Association. Thanks to a federal grant, thousands of native plants will bloom in a kaleidoscope of colors while helping to protect the Plainfield Avenue from chronic flooding, eroding stream banks, and stormwater runoff. Plus, the native plants will provide shelter and a food source for migratory songbirds as well.
Equally as important, residents that live in an urban landscape should enjoy the aesthetic benefits of a gurgling waterway replete with beautiful native trees, shrubs and blooming flowers. Meanwhile the increase in trees and shrubs will absorb carbon dioxide and release greater amounts of oxygen.
Fostering a New Ethic of Nature’s Wonders Amid the Urban Landscape
In 2004 the Rutgers Cooperative Extension enlisted the Rahway River Association to conduct an outreach initiative to educate the stakeholders in the communities of the Rahway River’s Robinson branch sub watershed of the impacts of pollution caused by storm water runoff.
One of the main tasks of the outreach program was to design and develop a series of rain gardens in public places. Rain gardens are areas of limited sizes that are designed to absorb rain water and runoff from a home’s gutters, liters, driveways and sidewalks. Planted with native flowers, shrubs and trees, the rain garden is a low maintenance landscaped area that needs no mowing, fertilization or pesticide use. The guided runoff would enter the rain garden to provide sustenance to the small garden while replenishing the local aquifer.
Five rain gardens were constructed in the watershed; the Rahway River Office in the City of Rahway, the Walnut Avenue School in Cranford, Hanson Park in Cranford, the Woodbridge Health Department and the Fanwood Library. The demonstration rain gardens are intended to allow homeowners and businesses can create relatively inexpensive new gardens that serves to restore the local aquifer, reduce mowed areas, promote native plantings that provide food and shelter to native birds and other wildlife.
For additional information on how to construct a rain garden please call the Rahway River Association at (732) 535-7864 or by Email.