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Park closes roads for restoration work, amphibian crossings

Bushkill. A portion of the Old Mine Road will be closed until July, and the Watergate Recreation Site and a portion of Van Campens Brook will be closed for the rest of the year. River Road will be closed intermittently during the amphibian breeding season.

| 12 Mar 2021 | 04:12

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has closed a stretch of the Old Mine Road to accommodate construction work for a wetlands restoration project, and will close River Road intermittently to accommodate amphibians during their breeding season.

Wetlands restoration

The Watergate Wetlands Restoration Project will restore wetlands, floodplains, and a stream.

Effective immediately, the park has closed the active construction zone to all visitors, including the following areas:

● Watergate Recreation Site and the surrounding area (shown on map, attached)

● Two hundred feet on either side of Van Campens Brook, and Van Campens Brook itself, from the south end of Millbrook Village (Garis House) to the Upper Glen trailhead.

● Old Mine Road from Millbrook Village to Lower Van Campens Glen Trailhead

That section Old Mine Road is likely to be reopened to visitors by July. The other closures will remain in effect for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed in January 2022.

The work includes removing man-made dams and ponds, creating a wetland meadow complex in their place, and reestablishing the connection between Van Campens Brook and its floodplain. The project will restore the natural function of surface water and groundwater, improve stream quality, create high-functioning wetlands, and restore native vegetation. After the project is complete, the quality of cold-water angling and birdwatching are expected to greatly improve, according to the National Park Service

The project began in late January with the clearing of trees and brush in the restoration areas. Erosion and sedimentation controls are also being installed to prevent silt from excavation work from getting into Van Campens Brook.

Removal of the low, earthen dams and ponds will begin in May, followed by removal of the mowed lawn at Watergate, to create the wetlands. Work at Van Campens Brook will stabilize the streambanks and reconnect the stream to its floodplain. Invasive plants will be removed throughout the project area, which will be replanted with native trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs.

“After years of planning, studies, and design, we are thrilled that construction is underway,” said Kristy Boscheinen, project manager at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. “Restoration of natural conditions at this site will have long-term benefits to native plants and animals, including improving the wild trout fishery in Van Campens Brook.”

The project is a required compensation for the adverse environmental effects caused by the construction of the nearby Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line in 2013 and 2014. Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and PPL Electric Utilities (PPL) have fully funded this restoration project.

For more information on the project, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/WatergateWetlandsRestoration.

Amphibian protection

Motorists can expect River Road within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to be closed on some evenings over the next six to eight weeks to protect breeding amphibians.

The trigger for the road closures will be forecasts calling for evening rain with mild temperatures. Since the amphibians are active principally at night and have completed their treks by dawn, the road will be closed at approximately 4 p.m. and will remain closed until approximately 6:30 a.m. the next day.

Each year the National Park Service take steps to protect migrating amphibians by closing River Road in Middle Smithfield Township between park headquarters and Hialeah Picnic Area on several mild, rainy nights from March to mid-April. This closure allows vulnerable amphibians to crawl or hop from distances of a few hundred feet to sometimes more than a quarter mile to moist breeding pools without the risk of being crushed by vehicle tires.

For more information on Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, call 570-426-2452; visit nps.gov/dewa; or follow Facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS.

“Restoration of natural conditions at this site will have long-term benefits to native plants and animals, including improving the wild trout fishery in Van Campens Brook.” Kristy Boscheinen, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area