Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Federal and State Agencies Finalize Plan for Restoration Projects in the Raritan River Watershed
Twenty ecological and recreational restoration projects planned throughout the watershed

October 15, 2021

Contact(s):

David Eisenhauer, david_eisenhauer@fws.gov, 413-253-8492 



RARITAN RIVER WATERSHED, NJ- Today, Natural Resource Trustees representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced the release of the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics, Inc. Superfund Site, South Plainfield, New Jersey. Developed through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration process, the plan outlines twenty projects to restore aquatic resources and wildlife habitats and increase recreational opportunities throughout the Raritan River watershed, New Jersey – at no cost to taxpayers.  

Funding for this plan and its implementation originates from a series of Natural Resource Damage settlements in 2008-2015 that resulted in cash payments of over $25 million to implement projects that will compensate the public for natural resource injuries and associated ecological and recreational service losses stemming from the release of hazardous substances at the Cornell-Dubilier Superfund Site. The Trustees are authorized to act on behalf of the public to develop a plan to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources and recreational opportunities affected by contamination. 

This story map describes the projects selected in this restoration plan, including:  

  • Up to eight dam removals along the Raritan River mainstem and the North and South Branch Raritan Rivers 

  • A nature-like fishway installation to support fish passage in the Raritan River mainstem  

  • Riparian restoration along large swaths of the North Branch Raritan River and Lake Manalapan 

  • The creation of the Lost Valley Nature park, boat launch, and fishing platform in Manville 

  • Pond removals and freshwater wetland restoration in the Rockaway Creek watershed 

  • Freshwater mussel conservation and enhancement in the North Branch Raritan River and Stony Brook 

  • Swamp pink and freshwater wetland restoration in East Brunswick 

  • Green infrastructure installations in the Stony Brook watershed 

  • Universally accessible walking trails at the Rutgers Ecological Preserve in New Brunswick 

  • A new pedestrian trail connection between the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath and Boyd Park in New Brunswick 

  • Trash trap installations in the lower Raritan River 

The Trustees conducted restoration planning at the Raritan River watershed scale, engaging approximately 155 local stakeholders to help identify appropriate restoration projects to benefit local communities and natural resources. Selected projects are interconnected, and project successes will build upon each other to produce cohesive watershed-wide uplift, particularly of aquatic habitats. Each project will be conducted in partnership with a local non-government organization, federal/state agency, local government, academic institution, or private/public utility, and will leverage external funds, in-kind technical assistance, and in some cases volunteer support. Projects will also advance environmental justice by providing ecological and recreational benefits to underserved communities in the Raritan River watershed, providing affirmative and meaningful access to nature and natural resources.   

The Cornell-Dubilier Superfund Site is the former location of a 26-acre industrial facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey. The facility manufactured electronic parts and components, including capacitors, from 1936 to 1962. During this time, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were released and buried at the site. The PCBs and other hazardous substances contaminated site soils and groundwater, as well as the surface water, soils, and sediments of an unnamed tributary, the Bound Brook, and adjacent wetlands. Fish and wildlife that rely upon these habitats were injured due to the release of these hazardous substances. The Trustees acted on behalf of the public to assess injuries to natural resources associated with the Site, resolve claims with responsible parties, and plan restoration to compensate for those injuries. 

A draft version of the Trustees’ restoration plan and environmental assessment was available for public comment for 30 days, ending March 10, 2021. The Trustees considered all public input and the final restoration plan addresses comments and documents responses to those comments in a responsiveness summary, included as an appendix.  

Electronic copies of the final restoration plan and environmental assessment are posted on the DOI’s Damage Assessment and Restoration Tracking System website


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