Conservation Projects



The goal of the Manalapan Brook and Lake Watershed Restoration project focuses on rehabilitating the watershed, which stretches from Millstone Township in Monmouth County to DeVoe Lake in Spotswood within Middlesex County.

A watershed plan was developed by local project partners and approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This plan recommends actions needed to reduce rainwater runoff sediment, and nutrients (such as phosphorus) in the brook and lake. When it rains, runoff washes sediment into the brook. Soil is also flushed from streambanks during storm events Sediment eventually ends up deposited in Manalapan Lake in Monroe.

Excess sediment from soil erosion makes it impossible for fish and insects living in the stream and lake to survive. Expensive lake and stream dredging is needed to remove sediment build up.

Project Partners include:

Freehold Soil Conservation District, Princeton Hydro, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County, Middlesex County Planning Department, Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation, Township of Monroe, and Township of Manalapan.

These short videos summarize the different restoration practices installed in the Manalapan Brook watershed. These practices include floating wetland islands, naturalizing detention basins, and restoring the shoreline of Manalapan lake with native plants. Each video summarizes how the practice was installed as well as maintenance so that other municipalities replicate these efforts.

Naturalizing Stormwater Basins (Full version)

Conventional stormwater basins are designed to hold water to prevent downstream flooding. Most do a poor job improving water quality and provide little habitat and biodiversity. Communities can naturalize their stormwater basins so that they reduce rainwater runoff, improve water quality, and become ecological assets to the community. This video demonstrates different options for naturalizing stormwater detention basins.

Naturalizing Stormwater Basins (Short version)

Maintenance of Naturalized Stormwater Basins

Maintenance of any restoration is vital to the long term success of the project. This video covers monitoring, re-planting, invasives species, weeding, and mowing of a naturalized stormwater basin.

Floating Wetland Islands

Floating wetland islands use recycled plastic material which are planted with native wetland plants that, along with microbes in the island, remove harmful nutrients from the water column. The islands shown in this video were installed in Thompson Park in the Township of Monroe in 2014.

Lake Shoreline Restoration

Restoring a lake or pond’s shoreline can help improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, provide beneficial habitat, reduce Canada Geese populations, and help beautify a lake environment. Using Manalapan Lake in Middlesex County’s Thompson Park as an example, this video demonstrates how shoreline restoration can be accomplished in lakes and ponds throughout New Jersey. It outlines best practices for project planning, plant selection, hydrologic requirements, materials, construction considerations, and maintenance. This project was conducted in 2016.

Maintenance of Lake Shoreline Restoration Projects

 Lake shoreline restoration projects are low maintenance.. but that does not mean they can be ignored. There are a few critical tasks, especially in the first few years that will make the project a success. This video summarizes basic maintenance tasks such as watering, weeding, mowing, re-planting and monitoring which will help your vegetated shoreline buffer thrive.

Manalapan Volunteer Planting Day 2017

On Saturday, June 24th, 20 volunteers, Rutgers Cooperation Extension staff, and Middlesex Conservation Corps came out to the Manalapan Lake for the Volunteer Planting Day 2017. Close to 250 plants were planted.

Michele Bakacs, County Agent II / Associate Professor of Rutgers Cooperate Extension of Middlesex County, reported:

The planting design was done by our Rutgers Environmental Steward (RES), Emily Toth, who is also a landscape architecture student at Rutgers. She did the project for her RES internship and this project completes her certification. Katee Meckeler, the WMA 9 NJDEP watershed ambassador also helped organize this event as one of her partnership events.

A big thank you to Eric Gehring, who helped plan the event, and provided materials, supplies, and a positive, sunny attitude!  Also, thanks to Katee Meckeler, Emily Toth, the Middlesex Conservation Corps Crew, Nick Tufaro, Dave Smela, Bill Hlubik, and all the volunteers who helped make the day a success.

Thank you to all who came out!

Click on the map to learn more about local projects that will improve water quality and reduce rainwater runoff (also called stormwater runoff), to the brook and lake.