First phase of Watershed’s Wargo Pond restoration complete

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After months of construction and repairs, phase one of the Wargo Pond restoration is complete.

The necessary repairs to the mechanisms that regulate the water level, the structure of the pond, and the earthen dam are finished and Wargo Pond is holding water again.  

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‘We are very excited that life can return to Wargo Pond,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Insitute. ‘The pond has been a such a popular spot on the Watershed Reserve for over 50 years. It is exciting that it’ll be part of our watershed education and activities again.”

The pond had been drained of water since 2019 when the mechanisms that regulate the water level failed. With the help of a $475,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Stewardship Program, and private donors, fixing the pond began earlier this summer.  

“Now that the structural repairs have been done to the pond, our team will be focusing on habitat restoration over the next two years,” said Kory Dudash, conservation and sustainability director.

“This is an exciting project for the Watershed, and we’ll continue removing dead ash trees, improve our trails, and plant more native trees and shrubs around the pond that will grow for generations to come.”

Crews from Capela Construction install the new mechanisms and outflow to Wargo Pond on The Watershed Institute property. Photo courtesy of Seth Siditsky/The Watershed Institute

Wargo Pond has been a central part of The Watershed Institute’s education and recreation activities and a vibrant wildlife habitat since its construction in the late 1960s.

After the mechanism that regulates the pond’s water level failed in 2019, The Watershed Institute was required to drain the pond. Before doing so, more than one thousand fish were removed from the pond and transported to a local wildlife management area.

In addition, silt had accumulated in the pond over the years, reducing the pond’s depth, diminishing its habitat for fish and wildlife that require deeper water, and caused the water that remained in the pond to heat up.

The construction that finished this fall has fixed all of those issues.  

“We’re excited to see what birds and wildlife return now that the construction is complete,” Waltman said. “It was host to so many species like turtles, herons, egrets, and bald eagles. It is amazing to see how quickly some of them have returned once there was water in the pond.”

A great blue heron rests on the bank of Wargo Pond. Photo courtesy of Seth Siditsky/The Watershed Institute

The trails around the pond are open again and the small parking area is accessible.

Please note that hunting season began on Nov. 27 across The Watershed Institute.

To learn more, visit www.thewatershed.org.  

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