Former Raritan Arsenal Coastal Resiliency Project

GTA is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to restore and permanently protect 126 acres of previously altered tidal marsh as well as freshwater forested, scrub-shrub and emergent wetlands and riparian zone at the site of the abandoned rail causeways of the former Raritan Arsenal, now called Lower Raritan Center. This project is part of a watershed-wide partnership initiative (Sustainable Raritan River Initiative) which seeks to restore, preserve, and increase public access to the Lower Raritan River and its green space, including nearly 200 acres of existing county parkland.  

The Project is located on land that was formerly used by the US Department of Defense as the Raritan Arsenal in the Township of Edison, Middlesex County, NJ. The Lower Raritan Center (LRC) is a 609+ acre parcel of property located along the northern shoreline of the Raritan River and is at the terminus of Raritan Center Parkway where it meets the Raritan River (Figure 4 – USGS Topographic Map). The LRC is a subset of the larger Raritan Center, one of the largest business parks in the Northeast located at the intersections of a large transportation hub including I‐95 (NJ Turnpike), I‐287, Garden State Parkway, US Routes 1, 9 and 35, and Raritan Center Railway. The Project site is mainly comprised of degraded wetland habitat dominated by common reed (Phragmites australis). 

Past development in the vicinity of the Project, as well as disturbance onsite, most likely contributed to the colonization by non-native, invasive species within GTA’s project area. These past disturbances have contributed to long-term sediment deposition from surface runoff, which ultimately altered hydraulics, hydrology, topography, and systematic function/composition, while contributing to the decrease in quality wildlife habitat. The current degraded condition onsite dictates the need to enhance and preserve these valuable, urban wetlands and the local and regional functions that they support.

The Project is located within the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens Eco-Region Level III, within the Piedmont Plains Landscape Region. This Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens Eco-Region Level III is defined by characteristic topography, soils, hydrology, ecological communities, and linkages of similar Pine Barrens vegetative composition (Griffith and Omernik, 2008). The physiography of this eco-region is sloped to the east and drains to the adjoining Barrier Islands, Coastal Bays, and Marshes that characterize the estuarine areas of this watershed.

 

GTA’s project includes the following activities: 

  • Implementing an invasive/exotic vegetation eradication and control plan across the 126 acre site

  • Clearing and grubbing woody invasive material and dead standing herbaceous biomass after completion of herbicide treatments.

  • Excavating portions of  abandoned Army rail spurs to restore wetland hydrology.

  • Manipulating wetland topography to establish target hydrology and elevation diversity.

  • Creating upland islands.

  • Installing and maintaining goose and deer exclusion fencing.

  • Implementing a native planting plan.

  • Preserving the project site in perpetuity.

  • Implementing perpetual adaptive management by conducting required maintenance and monitoring to assure the successful achievement of the project’s goals and objectives.