A Baseline Characterization Approach to Wetland Enhancement in an Urban Watershed

by Beth Ravit1, Christopher Obropta1,2, and Peter Kallin3

1Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901

1,2Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901

3Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, P.O. Box 250, Belgrade Lake, Maine 04918


During the 20th century, more acres of forested wetlands were lost than any other category of wetland, yet restoration or creation of this wetland type has been notably unsuccessful. Restoration of riparian forested wetlands that are located within highly urbanized landscapes is particularly problematic, due to the stresses placed on the wetland by historical alterations and disturbances and by current watershed land uses. The Teaneck Creek Conservancy has partnered with scientists and engineers at Rutgers University to provide a baseline characterization of the 46-acre Conservancy site located within Bergen County, New Jersey's Overpeck Park. The project goal is to rehabilitate 20 acres of forest and scrub/shrub wetland by establishing hydrologic conditions typically found in a temperate forested riparian corridor, on a site whose surrounding land use is categorized as 95 percent urban. To achieve the project goal, hydrologic connections must be reestablished between the creek and the interior surface and groundwater, and surface elevations must be lowered, historical debris removed, and native vegetation established to replace invasive species. This paper reviews briefly the current status of forested wetland restoration and the obstacles to achieving successful restoration of these ecosystems. We also describe the baseline characterization being conducted for the Teaneck Creek project to support efforts to establish a sustainable urban wetland system on the Conservancy site.

Keywords: Urban wetland, urbanization, riparian forest, restoration, hydrology, scrub/shrub wetland, restoration/creation