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2019 Flashback

Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Here's a look back at the events and activities that made 2019 special for the WRWMG!

Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award

  • The SCMUA-Wallkill River Watershed Management Group won the 2019 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Environmental Education category for the creation of Stormwater Summer Camp at McKeown Elementary School.
  • The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award is the highest environmental award in the state of New Jersey.  In December, the WRWMG traveled to Trenton to attend an awards luncheon and were given a trophy to commemorate this honor.

Volunteer Engagement

  • In 2019, the SCMUA-WRWMG worked with 555 volunteers who contributed a total of 1409 volunteer hours to install rain gardens and plant trees along the Paulins Kill, the Wallkill River, and Papakating Creek, helping to improve the in-stream and terrestrial habitat conditions of each water body.

Community Outreach

  • Throughout 2019, 435 people attended presentations given by the SCMUA-WRWMG.
  • Additionally, 894 students participated in educational events led by the SCMUA-WRWMG.  Some of the educational events that occurred in 2019 were the 14th annual SCMUA Earth Energy Day, Think Outside Day at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, a rain barrel workshop at Halsted Middle School, and macroinvertebrate lessons at Sparta High School. 

Riparian Reforestation

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG and The Nature Conservancy continued Paulins Kill floodplain reforestation efforts in Newton and Stillwater Townships.
  • This year, 2,664 trees and shrubs were planted throughout Sussex County by the SCMUA-WRWMG, volunteers, and partner organizations.

High Point High School Partnership

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG continued its riparian reforestation project at Woodbourne Park in Wantage Township with the help of High Point High School environmental science students.  To date, 750 trees and shrubs have been planted at the site with funding provided by the Roots for Rivers Program.
  • Planning is also underway for rain garden installation at the school.  Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled to begin in spring 2019.

Delaware River Watershed Initiative

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG and over 50 conservation organizations have been working collaboratively on land acquisition and restoration projects to help improve the long-term water quality of the Delaware River.
  • The William Penn Foundation is funding the SCMUA-WRWMG to create a floodplain reforestation community outreach campaign and install stormwater management projects in Hampton, Newton, and the Paulins Kill lake communities.  
  • During 2019, the SCMUA-WRWMG was part of the planning team for the 1st annual Northwest NJ Rivers Conference that was hosted at Centenary University in Hackettstown.
  • Kristine Rogers is also acting as the facilitator of the Paulins Kill work group, a coalition of different environmental restoration, protection, and policy organizations that are working within the Paulins Kill Watershed.  In this role, the SCMUA-WRWMG organizes work group meetings and is responsible for tracking the progress made towards the group’s water quality improvement goals.

Stormwater Management

  • In August, the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group received a $238,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to install green infrastructure projects at the elementary, middle, high school, and community college in Newton, NJ. 
  • A porous pavement parking lot was installed at McKeown Elementary School which will reduce pollution by preventing road salt and motor oil from entering the nearby Paulins Kill River.
  • As part of the Paulins Kill Lakes Initiative, the SCMUA-WRWMG installed a rain garden at Kemah Lake in partnership with the Kemah Lake Association and Rutgers Water Resources Program.
  • Kristine Rogers, Nathaniel Sajdak, and Brenda Delgrosso (6th grade science teacher) organized the 3rd annual Stormwater Summer Camp at McKeown Elementary School in Hampton Township.  14 students from grades 4-7 participated in an interactive week of environmental games, crafts, off-campus field trips, and computer-based modeling exercises to learn about the human role in causing pollution and to identify ways to manage stormwater runoff using nature.

Agricultural Restoration: USDA-NRCS Partnership

  • The SCMUA-WRWMG has a contribution agreement with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to coordinate agricultural best management practice implementation on local farms throughout Sussex County.
  • In 2019, Eric VanBenschoten, Agricultural Outreach Specialist for the SCMUA-WRWMG, worked cooperatively with USDA-NRCS to plan, design, and install agricultural best management practices on Sussex County farms. 
  • Earlier this year, Eric and NRCS staff worked with a Sussex farmer to install cattle exclusion fencing along the Clove Brook to prevent the livestock from depositing waste (nutrients) into the stream.