New Jersey's Atlantic Coastal Bays are a primary focus area for DU's habitat program. Last year, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission, DU helped to rehabilitate 7,500 feet of dikes and replace or repair existing spillways on two muskrat-damaged water impoundments on the Barnegat Division of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The project restored the ability of Refuge staff to manage water levels within the 310-acre impounded marsh.
Elsewhere on the Refuge, DU has assisted the Service with Projects to restore management potential to the Brigatine Impoundment System in Atlantic County. The Brigantine impoundments were established in the early 1950's with the construction of a series of dikes around the mouth of Doughty Creek in Oceanville, Atlantic County. They are intensively managed for fresh and brackish marsh, as well as for freshwater submerged aquatic vegetation. In 1993-1994, DU helped fund the installation of a "T" dike to divide the 812-acre West Pool impoundment and add five water control structures. These improvements restored proper management of the wetlands to reduce salinity, foster the growth of wetland vegetation, reduce snow goose eat-outs, and increase available waterfowl nesting and brood-rearing habitats.
In fall 2000, DU completed the renovation of the Lilly Lake Dam on Doughty Creek. Doughty Creek is the primary source of fresh water for the Brigantine system, but the existing earthen dam across the creek dates back to the 1920's and did not allow for the manipulation of water levels within the Refuge. The dam was covered with a dense stand of trees, which threatened the integrity of the adjacent Lilly Lake impundment. Extensive erosion in the center of the dam allowed water to flow over the top of the dam during periods of heavy rain. This erosion would have enentually resulted in a serious breach and failure of the existing structure. With funding from the Service, DU undertook to renovate the existing dam by removing the trees, rebuilding the dam profile, and installing a 70-foot weir with two 4-foot stop long bays to provide water control. The completed project will provide water managment and invasive week control capabilities for approximately 1,458 acres of freshwater and brackish marsh within the impoundment system.