ROXBURY, NJ – Chronic flooding due to beaver dams on Succasunna Brook might have weakened trees, which are now threatening to fall onto some Roxbury residents’ properties, a situation that prompted the residents to complain to Roxbury officials.
The residents, primarily on Paul Drive in Succasunna, live adjacent to a flat and low wetland bisected by the brook just upstream from Midland Pond. Concerned about the trees, as well as the overall condition of Succasunna Brook, the residents recently sought help from Roxbury Councilman Dan Kline.
They expressed themselves at an informal meeting arranged by Kline last week. As it turned out, a meeting of the Roxbury Economic Development Committee - scheduled for the same time - was canceled. So the residents got to express their concerns not only to Kline but also to Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley, Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee, Roxbury Township Manager Chris Raths and Roxbury Public Works Director Richard Blood.
Succasunna Brook originates near Route 10 and Hunter Street, crosses under Righter Road and Eyland Avenue and merges with Black River in Midland Park near Midland Avenue. The diminutive, slow-moving stream is prone to clogging and “snags” from falling trees and other debris, but the biggest problem has been beavers, said Blood.
“The beavers were blocking Succasunna Brook last summer,” he said in an interview Monday. “The water rose two to two-and-a-half feet in the area upstream of the dam.”
Blood said the beavers built an impoundment that “extended from the Midland Pond property all the way across to Paul Drive.” He said the structure was a couple hundred feet long and ranged in height from 18 inches to three feet.
“Every night we tore it apart and in the morning it would be back,” he said.
The beavers are now gone, thanks to the efforts of some trappers, and the dam was removed this month by the Morris County Mosquito Commission, Blood said.
But when the water subsided, it revealed that the long-term submersion of trees near Paul Drive likely undermined their roots, according to the Paul Drive residents. They said tree experts are needed to identify which trees need to be removed or, at least, pulled down in a controlled fashion, before they fall on their own onto their fences and backyards.
Blood and Raths said the township is working with a company that uses drones to conduct aerial videotaping. This will enable township officials to see further beaver dams or other “snags” along the course of the river that need to be removed.
Blood said a preliminary fly-over took place Feb. 24. He and Raths said public works employees might borrow a boat from the Roxbury Fire Department and, once snags are found by the drone videos, go into the area with chainsaws and winches to clear them.
As for the trees threatening to fall on Paul Drive backyards, Blood said the township might be able to take action if the residents provide him with surveys of their properties so he can tell if a wobbly tree is on town land or private land. “We may be able to just knock them down and let them fall into the woods,” he said.
Raths said there needs to be a long-term plan developed - possibly in cooperation with bordering Randolph Township, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, Chester Township and the state Division of Fish and Wildlife – aimed at keeping Succasunna Brook clear of impediments.
He stressed, however, that it 's unlikely the residents will see a full-scale dredging of the brook, something one of those at the meeting suggested. Such an endeavor would require extensive state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permits and be very costly, said the manager.