ROXBURY, NJ – A plan to make safety and capacity improvements this spring to an old dam in Ledgewood was shelved recently after a biologist found the project would ruin the family plans of some birds on the site.

Environmental consultant Scott Angus, of NV5 in Parsippany, said his March 7 visit to the Ledgewood Pond Dam revealed a pair of white-breasted nuthatches and a male tufted titmouse. The biologist also spotted a robin’s nest “from last year” perched over the dam and he noted that “a good majority of the trees contained roosting habitat for Indiana Bat.”

Angus’ findings meant there could be no tree removal work done at the site, at least right away, said Roxbury Township Engineer Mike Kobylarz.

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“The migratory birds (regulation) was one criteria,” Kobylarz said. “The other was the Indiana bats. We were hoping to get the trees down before those restrictions came into play, but they did find some nesting birds. So, we have to call off the work.”

Kobylarz said the “next window” for removing the trees will be December.

The project, expected to cost about $200,000, will entail removal of all trees and brush on the earthen embankment, minor concrete repairs, replacement of a downstream headwall and outfall pipe, “armoring” the middle portion of the embankment and other work.

The 15-foot-high dam was built in the mid-1800s as part of the Morris Canal. It impounds the 1.8-acre Ledgewood Pond and drains into Drake’s Brook.

Nothing to Fear

Kobylarz said Roxbury was hoping to fund it the project with grants. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a grant able to be used for this project, so we have it in this year’s capital project budget,” he said.

The dam is classified as a Class II “significant hazard” dam, meaning that its failure might cause damage to property but probably wouldn't endanger any lives. The engineer said that, while the work needs to be done, it is not an emergency situation.

“We’ve been performing … biennial inspections and there are no concerns about anything failing,” said Kobylarz. “The anticipated construction schedule would be to perform tree removal in December 2019 and the dam embankment improvements in August and September of 2020.”

Birds and bats at the site aren’t the only animals officials need to protect. The work will also impact fish in the pond and stream.

“Due to additional environmental constraints regarding fish spawning and trout production and maintenance, we have only the August to mid-September window to perform the embankment work,” Kobylarz noted.


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