Wetlands Restoration Project Public Meetings to Be Held at Tulpehaking Nature Center

Roebling Park, part of the Abbott Marshlands, will undergo a restoration of its freshwater tidal wetlands.

The County of Mercer and the Mercer County Park Commission have launched a partnership to restore the freshwater tidal wetlands located in John A. Roebling Memorial Park. A public information meeting on the project will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7pm at the Tulpehaking Nature Center, to provide attendees with an overview of the restoration and information about project methods, and give residents an opportunity to ask questions.

Roebling Park, a Park Commission facility and part of the 3,000-acre Abbott Marshlands, is home to many rare plant and animal species, making this freshwater tidal wetland one of the most valuable habitats in New Jersey. An invasive form of Phragmites australis, a species of reed, has spread widely throughout the marsh and out-competes native plants, resulting in a less diverse ecosystem. Altered elevations of the marsh from this reed result in higher water levels and lower water quality, and impede recreational activities. The removal of about 40 acres of this invasive plant and root system will promote native plant and wildlife diversity and improve ecological functions of the marsh.

Specific restoration protocol and methods, including the use of an herbicide by a highly qualified and licensed applicator to treat the phragmites, will be discussed at the public information meeting. The herbicide, imazapyr, works selectively on plants, preventing them from producing a necessary enzyme, and when applied properly has no impact on water quality, aquatic life, birds or mammals, including people.

The multiple phases of the Roebling Park restoration may leave the marsh unrecognizable at first, but over time native plants will re-establish and a new native and diverse landscape will grow in, resulting in improved wetland functions and recreational activities at the park. The local community and park patrons are invited to participate in volunteer and citizen science projects that will be organized to support the restoration.

The Tulpehaking Nature Center is located at 157 Westcott Ave. in Hamilton. Individuals interested in the marsh restoration at Roebling Park are welcome to learn more about the project scope and benefits on Sept. 20. Light refreshments will be served. For more information on the project, and a map of the affected areas, please visit: https://mercercountyparks.org/#!/about/freshwater-tidal-restoration/.

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