Despite the blustery January weather, state, federal, and local officials came to the beach at Spring Lake, New Jersey on Tuesday, January 19 to help kick-off construction of the fish passage at Wreck Pond.
US Congressman Chris Smith and Commissioner Bob Martin, of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, were among those giving their vocal support to the multi-million dollar restoration project.
In addition to flood mitigation and water quality improvement, the project also aims to help re-establish the pond and surrounding streams as a breeding ground for fish such as American herring. The 600-foot box culvert that will improve water exchange with the ocean will also serve as an improved route for fish to enter and exit the pond.
The first 100 feet of the wood pilings that will hold the first ten sections of the concrete box culvert are in place. The pieces that will be connecting each section are due to arrive Wednesday, Jan. 20, and the first sections are due to be placed early next week.
Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton began the press event by thanking all of the state, federal, local and non-profit agencies that worked together to make this project a reality. Funding for the project came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, NJDEP, and Spring Lake Borough.
"Together, we can be very proud of a project with multiple benefits, including reduction in flood risk for those residents who live in and around Wreck Pond, the anticipation of increased fish passage between the ocean and the pond and the gradual return to a healthier pond environment and water quality in one of the most scenic coastal lakes along the Jersey Shore," Naughton said.
Other speakers included NJ Assemblyman David Rible, County Freeholders Tom Arnone and Gary Rich, USFWS Field Supervisor Eric Schrading, and American Littoral Society Executive Director Tim Dillingham.
“This is clearly a cutting-edge and very, very exciting project," Dillingham said. "We're not only restoring and protecting the environment, but we're (also) protecting the communities next to it. This a textbook example of how to live with the Jersey Shore and not simply on it.”
Stay tuned for more news about the project, including the time, date and place for a public lunch & learn in February.