Mercer County Park Commission receives funds for Roebling Park, Abbott Marshlands

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have announced that the Mercer County Park Commission will be awarded a grant from the 2020 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund for $150,000.

This grant will help fund the installation of a living shoreline and public access to the waterways in Roebling Park in Hamilton and the Abbott Marshlands in Bordentown.

This three-step restoration project will include constructing a 500-linear-foot living shoreline along Watson’s Creek, conducting a feasibility study for the re-introduction of freshwater mussels in the marsh and installing a user-friendly and ecologically sensitive public boat launch, according to a statement provided by Mercer County.

This award is a result of collaboration between the Park Commission, Princeton Hydro and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. 

Freshwater tidal marsh is one of the most ecologically valuable habitat types in New Jersey, yet it has experienced the highest percentage of loss and degradation of wetland habitat in the state, according to the statement. The marsh within Roebling Park is in the heart of the larger 3,000-acre Abbott Marshlands, the northernmost tidal freshwater wetland on the Delaware River. Approximately 309 acres of Roebling Park are freshwater tidal wetlands, and provide habitat for rare organisms such as wild rice, river otter and American eel, and a prime breeding habitat for bald eagles. 

“This grant will help further the county’s efforts to improve wetland functions and passive recreational opportunities in Roebling Park, an ecological jewel that’s located just minutes outside the City of Trenton,” Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes said in the statement. “Native plants, wildlife and the public all will benefit from the ongoing restoration in the park.”

The Park Commission is currently working with Princeton Hydro to conduct a multi-year, multi-phased restoration of these important freshwater tidal wetlands in Roebling Park. This ecosystem restoration will enhance the park’s biodiversity, restore natural tidal function, improve recreational opportunities through the eradication of phragmites and promote a native floral community in the wetland. The installation of a living shoreline and ecologically sensitive boat launch will continue building on the overarching mission for the larger wetland restoration, which is to provide ecological uplift to the wetlands within Roebling Park, while improving ecosystem services.

“For the last several years the Park Commission has significantly increased its efforts to restore the unique ecosystems within Roebling Park,” Park Commission Executive Director Aaron T. Watson said in the statement. “This grant will now allow us to expand upon our work to date and also result in new ways for Mercer County residents to get outside and enjoy this wonderful natural resource.”

The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund aims to conserve and restore natural areas, corridors and waterways on public and private lands to support native migratory and resident wildlife and fish, and native plants; and to contribute to the social health and economic vitality of the communities in the Delaware River watershed. These grants address priorities in NFWF’s Delaware River Watershed Business Plan.

The 2020 year round of funding will support 37 new or continuing conservation and restoration grants totaling $8.12 million. The 2020 awards generated $22.08 million in match from the grantees, creating a total conservation impact of more than $30.2 million.

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