Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lamington River Restorations Strike Groundwater

My photo files of the Lamington lack, though I have a number of 35mm prints I don't care to scan. This photo shot looking upstream from Cowperthwaite Road's green iron bridge, April 2011. I've also learned from Andy's Facebook site that Urbani Fisheries has surveyed the partially washed out dam in this photo for removal. The far edge of the dam is to the left in this photo.

My coworker, Joe, stopped to have an excited chat with me about the amazing restoration of a mile stretch of the Lamington River. Joe and I have been rangering on golf courses since April, and whenever we appropriately can, we've been talking fly fishing, especially for trout. You can tell by my blog that I don't have much experience at fly fishing, but I sure want a lot more. And though no one can have all he desires, he may achieve some. Once and awhile, I'd see Joe rove in the cart close to the river and take a peek. I spotted a 16-inch smallmouth bass from one of the cart bridges, and lots of enormous carp, but Joe's consistent spiel was despairing, as if he would never again fly fish New Jersey, only Colorado.

"I've never spotted a trout in this river," he said of the flow through two of the courses.

Today, what a reversal. "Do you know about the restoration they're doing back there!?" I've been working off the courses since September, so he wasn't sure I had any knowledge of it. "They dug a hole 10 feet deep and released a groundwater flow!"

"Yeah, I ran into Jim Holland at Shannon's in October. I suggested that they drill for spring water release into the river. Jim said they probably have a well permit and a springhouse might be a good idea, but he also mentioned they'll dig deep enough for possible groundwater releases," I said.

Holland writes the fly fishing column for The Black River Journal, a NJ Highlands publication, and is very well-known on the fly fishing scene hereabouts.

The famous Urbani Fisheries of Bozeman, Montana, along with other organizations, I think, carry out this amazing restoration effort. I read in one of the magazines a year ago or so about sensationally effective stream restorations in Montana, and although I knew a little about restorations of the Musconetcong River, I never dreamed I would be so privileged as to see some happen right here in Bedminster.

The Lamington stretch flows through guarded private property. Only a few can access the coming results directly, and yet this work serves as a fine example of what can be done, given the funds. A couple of years ago, I interviewed Brian Cowden, at the time in a top NJ Trout Unlimited position. We want to take out the 35-foot Warren Glen Dam on the Musconetcong, thus improve river quality greatly, but where will the millions needed come from?

Overall, the Lamington River is quickly improving as this work progresses. Cooler water here is no negative influence on the river below, and some trout may migrate in both directions. Since brown trout are expected to reproduce, some offspring will spread out up and down the river. This seems inevitable, given that a growing population will seek space. I was told by Joe Urbani that the state has already designated this one-mile length of the river Trout Production Water. Formerly, only the water above for some length had TP designation. Further up, the Black River, at least near the Cooper Mill in Chester, is not TP designated. The Black River becomes the Lamington River some distance below Hacklebarney State Park. It's named the Black because of a high degree of tannic acid giving the water the tone of black tea, which the river loses as tributaries feed the flow and tannic acid disperses in sediment and sort of gets filtered out by friction with the bank and river bottom.

The river used to be shallow and fishless for the most part through the courses, and now it looks completely natural with deep pools and riffles leading in where mayflies and the like will flourish, runs with seams and eddies aside of them that just beg for drifting flies. As witness to an amazing transformation, I say never think that because we are technological beings, we necessarily destroy the environment. The folks from Bozeman are living proof that technology can be used to greatly improve and enhance the environment.   

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