Western Brackish Marsh

Category: Existing Restoration/Preservation, and/or Mitigation SiteWestern Brackish Marsh

Location: Bordered on the east by the New Jersey Turnpike – Eastern Spur, on the west by Mill Creek, on the south by Mill Creek Marsh, and to the north by the Hackensack River in Secaucus, Hudson County.

Latitude/Longitude: 40.80331/-74.03911

Current Land Use: Tidal Marsh

Size: 63 acres

Current Ownership: NJMC

Site Description: Hartz Mountain Industries restored this site and the Eastern Brackish Marsh in the late  1980′s. The 157-acre restoration effort was mitigation for permitted fill of 127 acres of brackish marsh. Prior to restoration, the site was undeveloped, had experienced little or no direct industrial activities, and supported a dense monoculture of common reed (Phragmites australis). Restoration activities included the excavation of the marsh plain to lower its elevation and increase tidal inundation, the creation of small upland islands from out of the excavated material, and planting of native vegetation in the tidal and upland areas. Currently, sections of the tidal marsh support smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), while other sections are dominated by dwarf spike rush (Eleocharis parvula). High marsh areas are dominated by Phragmites. The upland islands are dominated by grey birch (Betula populifolia) and Phragmites, and support a variety of other trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation. This site has also been known as the IR-2 Mitigation Site.

Existing Site-Specific Data Inventory

A. Survey, Maps, and GIS

HMD regional data exists inclusive of this site.

B. Real Estate/Ownership

Owned by NJMC.

C. Site History & Land Use

Site-specific site history and land use information collected for 1988 and 1991 reports.

D. Biological Studies – Fauna

General avian and benthic studies conducted at the site in 1989 and 2001, respectively. Fisheries/benthic studies were completed in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

E. Biological Studies – General Environmental

General vegetation and environmental studies were conducted from 1978 to 1995. A wetland delineation and several wetland and habitat quality assessments were conducted in 1990. Wetland assessments were also performed in 2003.

F. Geotechnical

Soils data was collected at the site in 1995.

G. Hydraulics and Hydrology

No data obtained.

H. Water and Sediments

Sediment data collected at the site in 1987 and 2001.

I. Historical/Cultural Resources

No data obtained.

J. Restoration/Remediation Design Plans

Studies monitoring the results of site’s restoration were conducted in 1982, 1986, 1988, and 1991.

Site Reports

Site #10 – Western Brackish Marsh

Category: Existing Restoration, Preservation, and/or Mitigation Site

Location: Bordered on the east by the New Jersey Turnpike – Eastern Spur, on the west by Mill Creek, on the south by Mill Creek Marsh, and to the north by the Hackensack River in Secaucus, Hudson County.

Latitude/Longitude: 40.80331 / -74.03911

Current Land Use: Tidal Marsh

Size: 63 acres

Current Ownership: NJMC

Site Description: Hartz Mountain Industries restored this site and the Eastern Brackish Marsh in the late 1980’s. The 157-acre restoration effort was mitigation for permitted fill of 127 acres of brackish marsh. Prior to restoration, the site was undeveloped, had experienced little or no direct industrial activities, and supported a dense monoculture of common reed (Phragmites australis). Restoration activities included the excavation of the marsh plain to lower its elevation and increase tidal inundation, the creation of small upland islands from out of the excavated material, and planting of native vegetation in the tidal and upland areas. Currently, sections of the tidal marsh support smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), while other sections are dominated by dwarf spike rush (Eleocharis parvula). High marsh areas are dominated by Phragmites. The upland islands are dominated by grey birch (Betula populifolia) and Phragmites, and support a variety of other trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation. This site has also been known as the IR-2 Mitigation Site.

Existing Site Specific Data Inventory

* – Report repeated under multiple data categories and/or sites.

A.  Survey, Maps, and GIS

Relevant survey, mapping, and GIS data for the Meadowlands can be found in the Meadowlands-wide site report under data category A.

B.   Real Estate/Ownership

NJMC acquired Western Brackish Marsh on December 20, 1996.

C.  Site History & Land Use

1.      *Berger, John. The Hackensack Meadowlands. 1991. [2a] A “Restoration Case Study” of the mitigation site for the Hartz Mountain Project. Gives history of Hackensack Meadowlands and both Hartz Mountain mitigation sites (Eastern and Western Brackish Marshes), and describes mitigation methods. Concludes that mitigation activities enhanced habitat heterogeneity, vegetational diversity, and wildlife utilization.

D.  Biological Studies – Fauna

2.      *Raichel, D. The Influence of Phragmites Dominance on Marsh Resident Fish in the Hackensack Meadowlands, New Jersey. Rutgers University. 2001. [5] Investigates the response of mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) to common reed (Phragmites australis) vs. smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and compares invertebrate assemblages in these marsh types.

3.      *Raichel, D. L., Ken Able, & Jean Marie Hartman. The Influence of Phragmites (Common Reed) on the Distribution, Abundance, and Potential Prey of a Resident Marsh Fish in the Hackensack Meadowlands, New Jersey.” Estuaries 26: 511-521. 2003. [5] Analyzed abundance and distribution of the various life history stages of mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) and their invertebrate prey in smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and common reed (Phragmites australis).

4.      *Wargo, J.G. October Avian Species Richness: A Natural Marsh vs. An Enhanced Marsh. Rutgers University. 1989. [1a]Avian observations were made in a natural and an enhanced marsh during summer & fall 1987 and spring, summer, and fall 1988. Species richness and species diversity were compared. The results were suggested for use as baseline data for future monitoring & evaluation. Why

5.      *Yuhas, C.E. Benthic Communities in Spartina alterniflora and Phragmities australis Dominated Salt Marshes. Rutgers University. 2001. [1a]Core samples were collected at the creek bank and edge of vegetation in natural & mitigated cordgrass (Spartina) marshes and in a common reed (Phragmites australis) dominated marsh. A recolonization experiment using sediment from an undisturbed & uncontaminated site was also conducted. The diversity and abundance of benthic communities in the samples were analyzed.

E.   Biological Studies – General Environmental

6.      *Berger, John. The Hackensack Meadowlands. 1991. [2a] A “Restoration Case Study” of the mitigation site for the Hartz Mountain Project. Gives history of Hackensack Meadowlands and both Hartz Mountain mitigation sites (Eastern and Western Brackish Marshes), and describes mitigation methods. Concludes that mitigation activities enhanced habitat heterogeneity, vegetational diversity, and wildlife utilization.

7.      *Celebrano, M. A Characterization of Sites in the Hackensack Meadowlands District Experiencing Unexplained Decline of Spartina alterniflora. HMDC. 1995. [1a] Compares soils from the Eastern Brackish Marsh, Western Brackish Marsh, Empire Tract, and Metro Media sites to determine if differing soil characteristics effect the growth of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) seedlings in the first growing season. Soil cores from were analyzed for nutrients, metals, percent organic, grain size, acid-volatile sulfides.

8.      *Enviro-Sciences, Inc. Wetlands Report. 1990. [1a] Wetland delineation report for a five-acre parcel located along Industrial Avenue in Little Ferry, which included Block 108.3 Lot 3.01 and Block 82 Lots 17 & 20.

9.      *Hartz Mountain Industries, Inc. Environmental Impact Statement on a Multipurpose Development. October 1978. [4] Addresses plan to construct a multipurpose development in the HMD. The proposed project included modern retail facilities, office complexes, a residential cluster, and light industrial uses, as well as recreational facilities and corridors of open wetland space.

10.  *Kraus, M. L. Wetlands: Toxicant Sinks or Reservoirs? Proceedings of the National Symposium: Wetland Hydrology. Association of State Wetlands Mangers. 1987. [1a] Details a study undertaken to determine the role emergent plants play in the uptake, and thus potential export, of heavy metals out of contaminated estuarine marshes in the Meadowlands. Collected soil and plant (four species) samples from four sites – Saw Mill Creek Wildlife Management Area, Western Brackish Marsh, and two unidentified sites – and analyzed the samples for Cu, Ni, Cd and Pb.

11.  *The Louis Berger Group, Inc. Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Functional Assessment Model and Guidebook for Tidal Fringe Wetlands in the New Jersey Meadowlands. 2003. [1a](http://merilibrary.meadowlands.state.nj.us/dbtw-wpd/FullText/HGM_guidebook_RVSD.pdf) A hydrogeomorphic functional assessment model and guidebook for tidal fringe wetlands in the Hackensack Meadowlands was completed. The HGM model can be used as a tool to help determine wetland functions and values and to approximate compensatory wetland mitigation. Map-based and on-site field data (including amount of aquatic edge, channel density, vegetative cover, habitat, soil texture, and tidal inundation) were collected from the reference wetlands and used to refine data collection forms, calibrate model variables, and improve the conceptual HGM functional models. Reference sites included Skeetkill Creek Marsh, Meadowlark Marsh, Lyndhurst Riverside Marsh, MRI, Western Brackish Marsh, Mill Creek Marsh, Eastern Brackish Marsh, Mori Tract, Walden Marsh, Oritani Marsh, Harrier Meadow, Anderson Creek Marsh, Kearny Brackish Marsh, and Riverbend Wetlands Preserve.

12.  *McCormick, J. M. and F. R. Cantelmo. Investigation of Unexplained Decline of Spartina alterniflora in Northern Portions of the Hackensack Meadowlands District. HMDC. 1995. [1a] Mainly a literature review on factors that influence survival of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). Contains specific review of history of Eastern and Western Brackish Marshes. A small study on the survivability of transplanted S. alterniflora was also done.

13.  *TAMS Consultants, Inc. Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP): IR-2 Site and Off-Site Mitigation Areas: Evaluation of the Villages at Mill Creek Mitigation Program. October 1990. [2] The HEP was used to quantify the habitat value of the proposed IR-2 site (now the Mill Creek Wetland Mitigation Site) and mitigation area (now Western Brackish Marsh), as well as two potential offsite wetland mitigation sites – Anderson Creek Marsh and South Secaucus (also known as Riverbend Wetlands Preserve).

14.  *TAMS Consultants, Inc. Technical Report on Vegetation Mapping for IR-2, Anderson Creek Marsh, and South Secaucus Wetland Sites. December 1990. [2]Presents vegetation mapping with supporting data for the IR-2 site (now the Mill Creek Wetland Mitigation Site), its potential onsite mitigation area (now Western Brackish Marsh), and potential offsite mitigation areas – Anderson Creek Marsh and South Secaucus (now known as Riverbend Wetlands Preserve).

15.  *TAMS Consultants, Inc. Comprehensive Baseline Studies, IR-2 and Off-Site Mitigation Areas/Evaluation of the Harmon Meadow Western Brackish Marsh Mitigation Area. June 1990. [2] Baseline studies were initiated in 1986 to provide Hartz Mountain Industries with planning information about three proposed mitigation sites – IR-2 onsite mitigation (now known as Western Brackish Marsh), Anderson Creek Marsh, and South Secaucus (now known as Riverbend Wetlands Preserve) – by documenting existing ecological conditions of the sites and the Hackensack River in their vicinity for a year-long period.

F.   Geotechnical

16.  *Celebrano, M. A Characterization of Sites in the Hackensack Meadowlands District Experiencing Unexplained Decline of Spartina alterniflora. HMDC. 1995. [1a] Compares soils from the Eastern Brackish Marsh, Western Brackish Marsh, Empire Tract, and Metro Media sites to determine if differing soil characteristics effect the growth of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) seedlings in the first growing season. Soil cores from were analyzed for nutrients, metals, percent organic, grain size, acid-volatile sulfides.

G.  Hydraulics and Hydrology

No data obtained.

H.  Water and Sediments

17.  *Kraus, M. L. Wetlands: Toxicant Sinks or Reservoirs? Proceedings of the National Symposium: Wetland Hydrology. Association of State Wetlands Mangers. 1987. [1a] Details a study undertaken to determine the role emergent plants play in the uptake, and thus potential export, of heavy metals out of contaminated estuarine marshes in the Meadowlands. Collected soil and plant (four species) samples from four sites – Saw Mill Creek Wildlife Management Area, Western Brackish Marsh, and two unidentified sites – and analyzed the samples for Cu, Ni, Cd and Pb.

18.  *Yuhas, C.E. Benthic Communities in Spartina alterniflora and Phragmities australis Dominated Salt Marshes. Rutgers University. 2001. [1a]Core samples were collected at the creek bank and edge of vegetation in natural & mitigated cordgrass (Spartina) marshes and in a common reed (Phragmites australis) dominated marsh. A recolonization experiment using sediment from an undisturbed & uncontaminated site was also conducted. The diversity and abundance of benthic communities in the samples were analyzed.

I.    Historical/Cultural Resources

No data obtained.

J.   Restoration/Remediation Design Plans

19.  *Berger, John. The Hackensack Meadowlands. 1991. [2a] A “Restoration Case Study” of the mitigation site for the Hartz Mountain Project. Gives history of Hackensack Meadowlands and both Hartz Mountain mitigation sites (Eastern and Western Brackish Marshes), and describes mitigation methods. Concludes that mitigation activities enhanced habitat heterogeneity, vegetational diversity, and wildlife utilization.

20.  *Hix, Stephen & Christine Ross (TAMS Consultants, Inc.) Restoration of a Tidal Marsh in the Hackensack Meadowland Region. 1988. [1] Discusses the methods and preliminary results of a 151 acre wetland restoration project (Eastern and Western Brackish Marshes) ordered by the USACE to offset the filling of 131 acres of brackish wetlands in the Hackensack Meadowlands.

21.  *TAMS Consultants, Inc. The Villages at Mill Creek (IR-2) Brackish Wetland Mitigation Concept. May 1986. [2] Quantifies the net impact of filling 97.41 acres of USACE-regulated wetlands and enhancing 91.98 acres for the construction of the proposed Villages at Mill Creek.

22.  TERA Corporation. Wetland Values in the Hartz Mountain Project Site, Secaucus and North Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey. May 1982. [4] This report summarizes further analyses of mitigation alternatives conducted after an initial conceptual plan for mitigation was prepared on the proposed project. It incorporates the suggestion offered by USFWS and USEPA personnel that freshwater habitat be considered in project development.

K. Bibliographic Updates                   

Site #10: Western Brackish Marsh