Ecological Restoration of the Paulins Kill River
The Paulins Kill river in northern New Jersey still maintains extraordinary biological diversity and high water quality, but the river has been fragmented by dams and has suffered from other human abuses for decades. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been working with the State of New Jersey and a number of outstanding groups (including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, and the Academy of Natural Sciences) to both reverse the historical damage to the ecosystem and to bolster the diversity of native species that continue to live within the system.
Among the most important positive steps forward has been the removal of the first dam on the Paulins Kill in 2018. The Columbia Lake Dam was located less than a half mile upstream from the Delaware River confluence, blocking the strong runs of migratory fish still thriving in the Delaware River from utilizing the Paulins Kill watershed. Led by the State of New Jersey, the Nature Conservancy, and American River, this first-blockage dam was removed beginning in August of 2018, with documentation of migratory fish returning to the Paulins Kill already in the spring of 2019.
But the return of migratory fish (including American Eel and American Shad) is just the beginning of the broader ecological restoration of the Paulins Kill. Further work by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and its partners seeks a more complete and holistic recovery of water quality and ecological diversity, including such key species as freshwater pearly mussels.