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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2004

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

DEP JOINS FORCES WITH ARMY CORPS TO BUILD PASSAGEWAY FOR MIGRATORY FISH

(04/79) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that the Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work together to build a fishway to provide spawning access for migratory fish on the Batsto River, increasing fishing opportunities for New Jersey anglers.

DEP and the Army Corps are funding partners in the construction of a fish ladder on the Batsto River dam in historic Batsto Village in Wharton State Forest. Under the agreement, DEP and the Army Corps will jointly finance the construction project, with the Army Corps overseeing the construction of the passageway. The estimated cost of the project is $ 610,000 with DEP contributing $142,000.

"Through effective partnerships like this one, we are able to restore habitat that has been degrading for hundreds of years," Campbell said. "The addition of the fish ladder will provide recreational opportunities for the more than 250,000 individuals who visit Batsto Village every year."

A fish ladder or a fishway is a structure designed to allow fish the opportunity to migrate upstream and continue their function as part of the river ecosystem. Fish ladders are appropriate when there are blocking structures preventing fish from migrating upstream to find suitable spawning structures. Effective passage is critical to the protection and recovery of many fish stocks.

Dams have prevented fish from spawning upstream on the Batsto River for more than 200 years. The construction of the fish ladder at Batsto Village will allow migratory fish to bypass the dams and access 8 miles of upstream waters. Currently, a large run of river herring migrate to the base of the Batsto Lake Dam but are impeded from reaching spawning and foraging areas upstream.

"Partnership and teamwork are what makes the Corps of Engineers the premier public engineering organization that it is and I am confident that the Philadelphia District, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership will achieve the project's goal to restore the river's habitat," said Lt. Col. Thomas C. Chapman, Commander of the Philadelphia District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Alewife, American eel and blueback herring are the target species for the ladder. Alewives are a key ingredient in the coastal food chain and prime forage fish for striped bass and bluefish.

DEP's contribution will be offset by $50,000 received in funding from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, an organization comprised of representatives from government and industry dedicated to restoring wetlands and other aquatic habitats.

The ladder project, which was designed to conform to the historic attributes of Batsto Village, is expected to be completed this year.

 

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