Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station [Rutgers Environmental Stewards]

Passaic River Coalition

Host Agency Info:

Name:Passaic River Coalition

Address: 246 Madisonville Rd., Basking Ridge, N.J. 07920

Phone:908 766-7550

Supervisor Name: Matt Polsky

E-mail of supervisor: Mattpolsky@passaicriver.org

Nature of Host Agency (circle): Private Enterprise, Non-profit, X Government

Project Description: Please include anticipated outcomes or accomplishments and who benefits.

Position#1

Land Trust Assistant

Help the Director of PRC’s land trust through the complicated process to buy properties in the Passaic River watershed for permanent preservation. The preservation of these parcels will ensure that these lands continue as they are; filtering pollutants from water entering the Passaic River, providing recreational opportunities, and protecting habitat.

The Assistant will be involved in 1) site visits, to determine the interest of PRC in buying particular parcels; 2) discussions with the range of players involved in the process, including landowners, state and local government, appraisers, lawyers, and others; and 3) keeping the necessary paperwork flowing, and maintaining the computer data base showing the status of each actual and potential property.

The Assistant should have excellent organizational skills, a good research orientation, and a strong environmental sensitivity. They should be comfortable with some physically taxing activities, and operating in a range of geographic and socioeconomic areas. Real estate experience would be a bonus.

Nature of anticipated impact (circle all that apply): Social, Economic, X Environmental X

Evaluation Plan:

Facilitate significant progress in the transaction process for 3-5 properties.

Towards the end of the internship, manage some steps in the transaction process (e.g. site visits, communications with landowners) with little supervision.

Learning Objectives in plan (If any):

Learn the characteristics of land most suitable for protecting water quality, the several steps of the real estate transaction process, how to deal with the unanticipated complexities that arise regarding the latter, and something about life in a small environmental organization. Through contact with other activities of the organization, the intern will also be exposed to some policy issues, GIS mapping, and open space master plans.

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Position #2

Supervisor Name: Eugene Reynolds

E-mail of supervisor: eugene_reynolds@passaicriver.org

Nature of Host Agency (circle): Private Enterprise, Non-profit: X Government

The Environmental Steward intern will be tasked to revise, update, and expand Open Space plans and Natural Resource Inventories (NRI) as part of the Passaic River Coalition’s (PRC) on-going collaborative efforts with municipalities within the Passaic River watershed. The intern will be expected to learn the formal methods of completing Open Space plans and NRIs through interactions with PRC’s own environmental scientists and policy analysts, with the relevant municipal environmental commissions and officials, with interested and informed local residents and organizations (historical societies, environmental advocacy groups), and by example from PRC’s own library of previously filed plans and NRIs.

The intern’s work will contribute on specific assignments documenting and publishing in formal reports and less formal outlets (PRC newsletters, memos to file, responses to individual inquiries) regarding the monitoring of the natural resources of the Passaic River watershed, their current conditions, current and anticipated threats, and recommendations toward maintaining and improving the watershed’s overall environmental health. The most immediate beneficiaries will be the municipalities who depend upon PRC to provide expertise in natural resource management, as well as PRC itself by the addition of enthusiastic and trained interns who will bring well-rounded understanding of environmental stewardship and the tools and techniques used to monitor and assess the health of the environment.

Nature of anticipated impact (circle all that apply): Social, Economic, Environmental: X

Evaluation Plan:

The intern’s contributions to each Open Space plan and/or NRI will be carefully reviewed by PRC’s environmental scientists and policy analysts. Revisions and corrections will be noted and discussed with the intern. The intern’s supervisor will conduct a weekly review of the submitted work and, as applicable, will suggest additional resources for the intern to research or methodologies to apply to the submission(s) to improve the overall quality. At the conclusion of the internship, a complete folder of the intern’s submissions will be produced, along with the actual published (or to-be-published) sections of the plans and/or NRIs, to serve as an indicator of the acceptance of the intern’s work.

Learning Objectives in plan (If any):

  • Understanding of formal documentation of environmental assessment (in Open Space plans/NRIs)

  • Application of environmental stewardship techniques to actual municipal natural resource management

  • Interactions of science and public policy within municipal government

Position #3

Implementing the Pequannock River Greenway Project

The Passaic River Coalition has been interested in systematically identifying vacant parcels along the Pequannock River and then trying to assess some means to protect them (i.e. purchase, donation, negotiation of easements) in order to establish a greenway along the river.

The Pequannock is the cleanest, wildest, and healthiest tributary in the Passaic River Basin.  It provides high quality recreation for hiking, fishing, boating; as well as habitat for otters, herons, wild trout, and other sensitive wildlife.  It is also a source of drinking water and has been designated Category 1 by New Jersey, the state’s highest classification. 

However, at present little protected public land exists along the river. A greenway, besides providing access and recreation for citizens of our region, would also preserve the wild character of the area and prevent inappropriate development.

The greenway would extend from the Macopin Reservoir southeast to the Pequannock’s confluence with the Ramapo River in Pompton Lakes.  While the river includes 11 municipalities, the focus for this project is on 32 acres in the Apshawa Cluster, named for the large Passaic County park to the north and the Silas Condict Morris County Park to the south, and the 164-acre Weber Tract parcel just downriver to the east.  Route 23, Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike, and the Susquehanna and Western railroad run through the area.  Yet the riverbanks in this stretch are heavily wooded with mature trees, and the river is a mix of rapids and deep pools.

An Environmental Steward is needed to evaluate the status of these properties, particularly for environmental constraints such as wetlands.

The Steward will work with PRC’s GIS specialist to show the status and owners of these properties.

Afterwards, working with the Director of PRC’s Land Trust, the Steward will develop an approach to, and will contact, the relevant landowners to determine their interest in supporting the development of a greenway, initially through donation of land.

By the end of the 60-hour period, it is assumed that the Steward will have completed the above, and give the PRC a good start in the long term process of developing this greenway and protecting these properties.         

 

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