Early last week, Winter Storm Stella barreled through the Northeast US. While much of NJ was spared from substantial snowfall, many parts of the state experienced heavy rain and strong winds, with coastal areas also experiencing large waves and high storm surge.
In anticipation of the storm, Spring Lake officials closed the culvert and outfall gates around 10:30 Monday morning following low tide. Closing the gates largely prevented the high storm surge from flowing into the pond. Instead of snow, throughout Monday night and Tuesday, over three inches of rain fell in the area. This rain slowly collected in Wreck Pond until Wednesday morning when the gates were opened allowing water to flow out of Wreck Pond and into the ocean. Despite the heavy rainfall in a relatively short period of time, the communities around Wreck Pond faced minimal flooding. Water barely overtopped the bulkhead along 2nd Avenue. No houses were impacted by surface flooding, and we only have one report of flooding in a residents backyard along Black Creek.
Photos by Jay Amberg of Sea Girt.
The past two weeks, the Society reinstalled PIT tagging antennas at several locations within the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. These antennas will allow us to track the movement of tagged river herring as they migrate into Wreck Pond to spawn, and will help us answer a number of questions about river herring spawning behavior.
This week, the Society will also begin fish sampling. To catch fish, we will set up a fyke net underneath the railroad bridge in Wreck Pond. All fish caught will be measured and weighed, and river herring will be tagged. If you are interested in volunteering to help with fish sampling contact Zack at email@example.com.
This sand will act as a buffer against storm event wave energy, and by doing so, help to improve the resiliency and protect the integrity of the pond and the welfare of both Spring Lake and Sea Girt. As we move forward, you will see more of us on site as we prepare for our Spring fish sampling in March.
Midway through February, the Society's restoration team is preparing for a new season of Spring fyke net sampling. For the remainder of this month, equipment including: the fyke net, buckets, gloves, waders, and PIT tags will be prepped and checked for their use in March.
The PIT tags (pictured below) fundamental purpose is to monitor the migratory habits of river herring species in and throughout the Wreck Pond watershed. Also pictured is the PIT tag reader; when river herring are caught in the fyke net, we will use this reader to scan each specimen for the presence of a PIT tag.
Once March hits, PIT tag equipment will be tested and deployed so stay tuned for the beginning of a new monitoring season soon. This will be the first year of monitoring with a secondary passage for fish to enter the pond so fingers crossed for a successful and record breaking season !
Work at Wreck Pond continues. Last week, Jim Nickels of Monmouth University installed several water meters in Wreck Pond. These meters will be used to record water depth, temperature, and salinity. The data collected from these meters will be compared to data collected by the Society’s own water meter as well as data collected in the citizen science program to better assess some of the impacts of the new fish passage culvert on the pond.
One of the things these data will tell us is how water levels fluctuate in the pond during different tidal and weather conditions. This could not be timelier, given the recent nor’easter that struck our area only yesterday. This is the first storm to have hit Wreck Pond since the installation of the new culvert, and while the data are not yet analyzed, we do know that Wreck Pond did not flood, with residents saying the water level did not rise much above the normal high tide mark.
Happy belated New Year! If early indications are to be trusted, it looks like 2017 is going to be an exciting year for the Society and our work at Wreck Pond. With the completion of the fish passage culvert, we now turn our attention towards monitoring Wreck Pond and the larger Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. On top of our migratory fish monitoring that we have conducted for the past three years, we once again will be PIT tagging adult river herring captured during our spring surveys. Further, in the upcoming months, we will be performing stream habitat assessments, benthic macroinvertebrate sampling, and facilitating data collection on water level, salinity, and flow in the pond and new culvert.
Our citizen science program is also rapidly expanding. We have almost 50 volunteers interested in the program. In light of this, we are revamping the program to accomodate the increase in people partcipating. Trainings on the program are being held this month in Spring Lake. If you are interested in the program and would like more information, contact Julie Schumacher at Julie@littoralsociety.org.
If you have visited Wreck Pond recently, you may have noticed white poles at various locations in the pond. These are the 6 monitoring locations for the new Citizen Science Monitoring Program. To become a volunteer monitor, training takes place at Wreck Pond where Julie Schumacher of the American Littoral Society educates participants on the Society, the fish passage restoration project, leads a tour of the six monitoring locations, and supplies each individual with access to monitoring equipment including: a refractometer, thermometer, handbook, data sheets, and bird guides.
There are two components of this program: bird monitoring and water monitoring. Volunteers have a choice between them and are more than welcome to do both. Bird monitoring involves observing the Spring Lake and Sea Girt beach (Wreck Pond is the border between the two towns) and documenting the different species seen. For water monitoring, we ask each volunteer to adopt one of the six locations to record water level, temperature, salinity, and general site observations. We also encourage volunteers to take pictures of species seen and anything interesting observed.
We ask that each volunteer does an assessment at least once every two weeks. Currently, we have 14 volunteers with 10 awaiting training. The Littoral Society will be holding a Monitor's Meeting for all current and interested volunteers sometime in early January. If you are interested or would like more information on this meeting, or the program in general, please contact: Julie Schumacher, firstname.lastname@example.org
All of us at the American Littoral Society would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season!
The fish passage culvert is open. This act is the culmination of years of hard work by the American Littoral Society and other project partners who have and continue to work towards improving the ecological health of Wreck Pond and the resiliency of the surrounding communities. The culvert was first opened on Wednesday this week. Both the new culvert and the existing pipe will remain fully open while engineers from Leon S. Avakian assess the impact of the culvert on the hydrodynamics and water level of the pond.
To assist in this process, Monmouth University will be installing two water meters in Wreck Pond. These meters will measure water level and salinity in the pond over the next several weeks. The data from these meters will be cross referenced with data collected from the Society’s own water meter, as well as data collected by our citizen science program.
Additionally, next week, the American Littoral Society will be traveling to New Orleans to attend the Restore America’s Estuaries 2016 summit. While there, the Society and US Fish and Wildlife Service will be presenting on our work done at Wreck Pond.
The fish passage culvert construction is complete. Earlier this month, Simpson and Brown attached the final section of culvert completing the 600’ long structure that will serve as a secondary connection between Wreck Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. Completion of this project is the culmination of several years of hard work by the American Littoral Society, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Spring Lake, and Leon S. Avakian LLC., who have all worked tirelessly to improve the ecology of Wreck Pond through better fish passage, improved flood control, and cleaner water.
On November 21, 2016, a press event was held on the beach to mark the completion of the fish passage culvert. Those who spoke at the event included: DEP Deputy Commissioner David Glass, Congressman Chris Smith, Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone, Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton, USFWS NJ Field Supervisor Eric Shrading, and American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham.
"This project combines restoration of an important coastal environment with reducing the vulnerability of the local communities to future hazards," the American Littoral Society's Dillingham said, pictured above. "It successfully demonstrates how restoring the coastal environment can help the shore bounce back from storms while improving daily life for people and wildlife in the surrounding area."
"The Wreck Pond project is a critical project for fish and wildlife in Monmouth County that will not only improve water quality, but will provide important migratory fish passage to the Wreck Pond watershed," the Fish and Wildlife Service's Schrading said. "This project was only possible through the tremendous collaboration of local, state and federal partners, and the important work by the American Littoral Society. It will be really special to see a successful run of river herring in Wreck Pond as a result of this project."
Although this marks the completion of construction at Wreck Pond, dredging will continue until December 31, 2016. Furthermore, monitoring for river herring at Wreck Pond will continue for years to come.
The culvert is moving along as another forty feet of culvert has been installed and back-filled with sand leaving 90 feet remaining! As you can see in the photo below, the culvert sections are staged and ready to go for the next 30 foot section. The crew estimates that they will have the project completed by December 31 if weather permits.
Dredging of the remaining approximately 18,000 cubic yards of sand in Wreck Pond began again and will continue through December 31.
The Wreck Pond Citizen Science Monitoring Program was kicked off this past weekend as well. See below for a copy of the handbook and to learn more about the program. If you are interested in getting involved, email Julie at email@example.com for more information.