GSWA's Across the Watershed...In Brief
June 2014
Nature is painting for us, day after day,
pictures of infinite beauty.

--John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Upper Passaic Water Quality Report
GSWA volunteer Bill Marshall (Millington) uses a rubber duck to measure the flow of water on Indian Grave Brook in the Upper Passaic Subwatershed area. Credit: L. Kelm/GSWA, May 2012.
GSWA volunteer Bill Marshall (Millington) uses a rubber duck to measure the flow of water on Indian Grave Brook in the Upper Passaic Subwatershed area. Credit: L. Kelm/GSWA, May 2012.
The Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) recently released its final report on a three-year study of water quality in the Great Swamp's Upper Passaic River Subwatershed region.
Between 2011 and 2013, GSWA staff and Adopt-A-Stream volunteers tested the water at several locations in an area that straddles the political boundary between Somerset County and Morris County. Waterways under examination included the headwaters of the Passaic River in Mendham Township, as well as two important tributaries--Indian Grave Brook which drains portions of Mendham Borough and Bernardsville Borough, and Penns Brook which drains portions of Bernardsville Borough and Bernards Township.

A quick review of GSWA's new data set re-affirms old findings made by the former Ten Towns Great Swamp Watershed Management Committee (TTC) between 1998 and 2008. The quality of water along the less-developed Upper Passaic is significantly less impaired by pollution than it is along other streams in the Great Swamp Watershed region.

While water quality remains comparatively high in most areas of the Upper Passaic Subwatershed, some notable problems were detected. Over the three-year study period, Penns Brook, which cuts through the heavily developed heart of Bernardsville, routinely experienced problems with nutrient pollution from excess nitrogen and phosphorous. This stream also experienced considerable pollution from road salt used to de-ice roadways and parking lots in winter.

The study also revealed potential problems with water temperature along stretches of the Upper Passaic that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has designated as important for trout production. Additional investigation will be required in order to determine whether or not high water temperatures recorded in these areas represent a persistent threat to the local fishery.

GSWA's Water Quality in the Upper Passaic River report is available for download right now at
Watershed Moments
Advocacy Update

Credit: A. Kaufman, June 2011
Several tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) congregate on top of a nesting box at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Credit A. Kaufman, June 2011.
There are two important proposals for environmental action circulating in and around our region that deserve your attention this month. The first proposal concerns the future of our own precious Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The second proposal touches on the fate of pollution cleanup efforts along the lower Passaic River in a place where the water we work hard to clean and protect here in the Great Swamp comes under renewed threat as it flows to the ocean.

New Management Plan Proposed for Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Members of the public are invited to review and comment on a new management plan for the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (GSNWR). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental assessment (EA) for the GSNWR on May 14, 2014.

A short summary of the four management approaches proposed in the CCP/EA appears below in this month's Did You Know? article by Jim Northrop. Click here to skip to that article.

The USFWS will accept written comments on the draft CCP/EA through June 27, 2014.  To submit your comments, please send an email with Great Swamp NWR in subject line to; or send a letter to--

Bill Perry
Refuge Planner
Northeast Regional Office
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, MA  01035
tel. (413) 253-8688
fax. (413) 253-8468

If you would like to learn more about the draft CCP/EA, the USFWS will hold two public information sessions in June. The first session will take place on Wednesday, June 11, between 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. at the Chatham Township Municipal Building located at 58 Meyersville Road, Chatham, NJ 07928.  The second session will take place on Thursday, June 12, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Long Hill Township Municipal Building located at 915 Valley Road, Gillette, NJ 07933.

GSWA strongly encourages all of its members and friends to attend an upcoming public information session and submit their written comments on the proposed CCP/EA by June 27.

Reminder: Comment On EPA's Plan for Cleanup Along the Lower Passaic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the public review and comment period for its draft plan addressing cleanup of a portion of the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site along the last eight miles of the Passaic River. Written comments will now be accepted through August 20, 2014.

Click here to download a short summary
of the EPA proposal (4 pages).

The EPA will hold another public information session to explain the cleanup proposal on Monday, June 23, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Belleville Senior Citizens Recreation Center (125 Franklin Avenue, Belleville, NJ  07109).

GSWA strongly encourages all those with an interest in creating a cleaner and healthier Passaic River to attend the upcoming public meeting and submit written comments on the proposed cleanup plan.

Rain Barrel Workshop, July 23

A functioning rain barrel. Credit:
Why should you get a rain barrel? Use one to capture and store the rain from your home's downspout and you'll routinely have 55 gallons of free water at your disposal. Your barrel will also help slow the flow of stormwater through your neighborhood, and that can lead to reduced flooding and water pollution along your local waterways. Those are two pretty good reasons, right?

If you've been waiting for your chance to dive into the wonderful world of rain barrels, then you won't want to miss our newest workshop. On July 23, between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., GSWA will help you build your own water-saving rain barrel. Using a recycled, food-grade barrel and a spigot adaptor kit, we will walk you through the simple construction process. Each registered participant will leave with the event with their very own handcrafted rain barrel that is ready to be hooked up to a household downspout. (The event takes place at GSWA's offices located at 568 Tempe Wick Road in Morristown, NJ.)

The cost for this hands-on workshop is $75 per rain barrel construction kit. Only 16 kits are available, so participation is extremely limited. Join the workshop as an individual or work together as a team to build your barrel. (Families groups are encouraged.) Register online right now to reserve a barrel kit, or register by phone at (973) 538-3500 x22. Note: Participants will be responsible for transporting their rain barrel home at the end of the event.

Want a rain barrel but don't want to build your own? Use this opportunity to purchase a finished, ready-to-install rain barrel through GSWA. The cost is just $100 per barrel. (Note: Advanced purchase is required, and finished rain barrels must be picked up at GSWA's offices at 568 Tempe Wick Rd. in Morristown. Home delivery is not available.) Click here to make your purchase online, or call us at (973) 538-3500 to purchase by phone.

Support for GSWA's rain barrel workshop comes from RBC Wealth Management, Parsippany Complex.

For more information about the workshop or purchasing a finished barrel, visit us online at
Thank You Bill Koch!

GSWA Executive Director Sally Rubin (right) with former Great Swamp NWR Manager Bill Koch and New Jersey Highlands Coalition Executive Director Julia Somers. Sally, Bill, and Julia (who served as GSWA's executive director from 1990 to 2006) posed for this photo at Bill's retirement party on May 31.
Last month we said farewell, but certainly not goodbye, to Bill Koch, longtime project leader and manager at the Great Swamp National Wilflife Refuge. After a 43 years of dedicated service to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 34 of which were spent right here looking after our very own Great Swamp, Bill has elected to retire from his position and pursue new opportunities in life.

On Saturday, May 31, Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) Executive Director Sally Rubin and other members of our local community gathered to celebrate Bill's legacy and his unflinching commitment to to the protection of our natural resources here in New Jersey.

Bill was recently selected to be the next guest of honor at GSWA's annual gala celebration, so our members and friends can expect to hear a lot more about his many important contributions to our Great Swamp community in days and months to come.

GSWA's 2014 gala will take place on Wednesday, October 29,
at the Westin Governor Morris in Morristown, NJ.

We hope to see you there! Please save the date on your calendar today!
In Case You Missed It...
Springtime Is Bear Time!

From the Hanover Eagle: Northwest New Jersey is bear country! So what do you do when our large furry friends wander through the neighborhood? Here's some good advice from local officials. Read the Article

Fracking Debate Rages On

From The Alternative Press: In this opinion piece, author Samuel K. Burlam outlines the shifting nature of the public debate over natural gas hydrofracking here in New Jersey. Read the Article

What You Missed At GSWA First Home & Garden Tour

From The Star-Ledger/ More than 120 people from around New Jersey participated in GSWA's first-ever Home & Garden Tour on May 28. If you weren't at this spectacular event, this article by Star-Ledger entertainment reporter Kimberly Jackson will fill you in on some of the things you missed. Read the Article

Did You Know?DYK
What's Planned For the Future of Our Neighbor ---- The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge?
by Jim Northrop

The panoramic landscape at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: A. Kaufman, 2011.
The panoramic landscape at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: A. Kaufman, 2011.
In 1997, Congress began requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to prepare a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and an environmental assessment (EA) for each federal wildlife refuge program. Each CCP/EA was to be revised at least every 15 years. The CCP is a strategic plan guiding management for each respective refuge. A draft of the CCP/EA for the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was published for public review and comment on May 14, 2014. The USFWS will accept comments and suggestions on the plan until June 27, 2014.

The 7,768-acre Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was set aside in 1960 primarily as a sanctuary for migratory birds. However, the Refuge is much more than that. It contains forested wetlands, emergent wetlands, and various successional stages of upland vegetation, provide habitats for a diversity of wildlife species.

What's the Plan?

In fact, at this "draft" stage there are four alternative plans proposed, each with a different emphasis. The merits of each alternative plan...Continue Reading

Want to finish the story? Click here to read the rest of the article on our blog site.
In This Issue
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Upcoming Events
Breakfast Briefing: Mapping Inland Floods, 6/10

8AM-9:30AM. Tom Suro, hydrologist and surface water specialist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) New Jersey Water Science Center, will discuss his work on a pilot project designed to map inland flooding in the Passaic River Basin.

This event takes place at GSWA's office located at 568 Tempe Wick Road in Morristown. Breakfast is served at 8AM, and the presentation will begin at approximately 8:30AM.

Learn more here!
Stream Assessment Training for Volunteers, 6/14

9AM-3PM. If you are interested in becoming a GSWA stream monitoring volunteer or you just want to learn more about stream health, this training is for you! An early-morning indoor classroom session helps you learn how to conduct a visual stream assessment and recognize environmental factors that may impact stream health. A late-morning outdoor session helps you practice your new-found skills at a local stream site.

This event takes place at GSWA's office located at 568 Tempe Wick Road in Morristown.

Learn more here!
Full Strawberry Moon Hike, 6/14

10PM-11:30PM. Join GSWA's Director of Education & Outreach Hazel England for a rare late-night hike under the Full Strawberry Moon at our Conservation Management Area in Harding Township. The moon rises late on the 14th, so this hike will start late in the evening. By then, bull frogs will be croaking away and the boardwalk across our marsh will transform into an eerie, shadowy, moonlit wonderland.

This event takes place at GSWA's CMA located at 1 Tiger Lily Lane in Harding Township.

Learn more here!
Tour a LEED-certified House, 6/18

10AM-11:30AM.   The LEED-certified Beinecke Headmaster's House at The Pingry School in Martinsville  incorporates many sustainable and energy efficient materials and practices. Join GSWA for a tour of this fantastic, green residence on June 18. Registration is required.

Only registered participants will receive exact location and driving directions.

Learn more here!
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Great Swamp Watershed Association
Protecting our waters and our land for more than 30 years
Street Address: 568 Tempe Wick Road, Morristown, NJ  07960 - Map It!
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 300, New Vernon, NJ  07976
For more than 30 years, the Great Swamp Watershed Association has been dedicated to protecting and improving water resources New Jersey's Great Swamp Watershed region. We do this by monitoring and maintaining streams and open space, advocating for intelligent land use and environmental policy, and educating communities about water and its effect on the health and natural beauty of the local environment.

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.