Pin Oak Forest Wetland and Stream Restoration Project
The restoration at Pin Oak is one of a series of projects that make up the Middlesex County Wetland Restoration (MCWR) project, a joint effort by Middlesex County, GreenTrust Alliance (GTA), GreenVest (GV) and Princeton Hydro (PH) to meet two important objectives: 1. to fulfill state and local goals for restoration, open space use/management and greenway connections by improving ecosystem services provided by open spaces within Middlesex County, and 2. to provide compensatory mitigation for permanent freshwater wetland impacts within the Raritan Basin watershed, located within the Reading Prong/Northern Piedmont Lowland Eco‐region, as well as the Arthur Kill Basin watershed, located within the NJ/NY Piedmont Eco‐region. These projects use funds from the New Jersey Wetlands Mitigation Council’s In Lieu Fee program.
The Pin Oak project site is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey within the Pin Oak Forest Conservation Area. The preserve lies in the headwaters of Woodbridge Creek, which is a tributary to the mainstem of the Rahway River. The Preserve provided an excellent opportunity to enhance valuable wetland habitat within the Middlesex County Park System and the highly developed Piedmont Plains Landscape Region. The restoration areas were comprised of headwater wetlands whose function had been compromised by the predominance of invasive plant species and impairment to stream channels.
The project restored 1,018 linear feet of stream restoration and enhanced 29 acres of wetland and upland that will transform the preserve into a highly functional headwater wetland system. The project included the naturalization of functionally impaired stream channels, and the removal of invasive plant communities and the subsequent restoration of native wetland plant communities along Fresh Meadows Pond and the low order tributaries of Woodbridge Creek that run through the site. The stream restoration and wetland enhancement greatly contributed to the ability of these headwater wetlands to provide valuable ecological services within the Woodbridge Creek watershed and the Piedmont Plains. Construction on the project was completed in 2017. A variety of reptile, herps, and avian species were observed within the sites during the 2017 construction period and during subsequent site monitoring. Painted turtles, bald eagles, osprey and several wading bird species were often seen in and above the site. Based on field observations, the newly created & enhanced wetlands have responded, and the sites are already providing greatly lifted wildlife habitat and food chain support values. In August 2018, the Pin Oak project was selected to receive the “Excellence in Water Resource Management Award” from the New Jersey chapter of the American Water Resources Association.