Sussex County Students Help NJDOT
Complete Final Phase Of Wetlands Mitigation Project
Students from the Byram Township Intermediate School joined with NJDOT staff today to help with the final phase of an environmental project to create two acres of wetlands that will ultimately serve as an “outdoor classroom” for the school.
Approximately 40 students from the school’s Environmental Club took up shovels and other tools to help plant trees, shrubs and other vegetation at the site, which is located adjacent to the school building.
“This project is a terrific example of what can happen when, in the course of our business, we look to see how our objectives can create opportunities for the community and involve people locally,” said Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein. “We’re not just creating wetlands here. Because of the proximity of the wetlands to the school, we thought we had the perfect opportunity to construct an outdoor classroom in a completely natural setting that the school and general public can use throughout the year.”
The wetlands project was constructed to mitigate the taking of other wetlands on the NJDOT’s $6 million Route 183 reconstruction project, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring.
The NJDOT received support for the wetlands project from the Byram Township Board of Education, Bryam Township Intermediate School, Onorato Construction Co. of Florham Park, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, whose Division of Parks and Forestry provided technical assistance through its “Project Learning Tree.”
“Wetlands play a vital role in our ecosystem, serve as important areas for flood waters and, in this instance, serve as a learning opportunity for the students. Environmental education projects like this one can further understanding of the natural sciences and help us all become better caretakers of our natural resources,” said NJDEP Assistant Commissioner Ray Cantor.
In addition to constructing the wetlands, the NJDOT has installed tables benches, a nature trail that loops around the entire site, a bird observation area, and signs that describe the many types of wildlife and plants that exist in wetlands.
“This project presents a wonderful opportunity for students to get ‘hands-on’ experience with what it takes to build a wetlands. And, that we have a learning center that we can use to teach science and the stewardship of our natural resources is a benefit that will last for generations,” said Barbara Utz, the advisor to the school’s Environmental Club.
Other schools interested in obtaining more information about “Project Learning Tree” can contact NJDEP at 732-833-9816