Parking passes are required on Saturdays. The Orientation Center and Cafe are open Thursdays – Saturdays. Trails and bike rentals open Tuesdays – Saturdays. The property is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.

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May 2024 Eagle Cam Update

With the successful fledging of this year’s chicks underway, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the work that has gone into making Duke Farms a healthy […]

Written by:

barreladmin

Jun 5, 2024

With the successful fledging of this year’s chicks underway, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of the work that has gone into making Duke Farms a healthy and thriving ecosystem for bald eagles and other wildlife. Specifically, how efforts to improve hydrology—such as dam removals—can increase access to food sources.

Duke Farms played a key role in the hydrological restoration of 10 river miles of the Raritan River through the removal of three low-head dams, a project funded by a natural resource damages (NRD) settlement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and El Paso Corporation. These efforts resulted in the restoration of habitat and improved river safety by removing significant drowning hazards for human beings. 

Let’s look at a specific example of how dam removal can improve habitat. J.B. Duke built one of these three dams, the Nevius Street Dam, across the Raritan River in 1901, primarily for aesthetic and recreational purposes. Later, it became a crucial part of the Duke Farms water supply system. But dams can and often do harm fish populations by altering water flows, changing natural habitats, and blocking migratory routes while hindering reproduction. 

The Raritan River and Nevius Street Bridge in 2017; the Nevius Street Dam was just upstream.

After studying the potential improvements offered by removing this blockage, Duke Farms ultimately made the decision to do the work to install groundwater supply wells. Those efforts enabled the removal of the Nevius Street Dam in 2013. 

The benefits of the dam’s removal have been significant. The river is now more aerated and shallow, resulting in better fish health and diversity. Following restoration activities, a previously lifeless sand shoal naturally transformed into a vibrant habitat supporting various plant, insect, and bird species. Migratory fish species, including the American shad and striped bass, have been observed in the river above where the dams were located for the first time in more than 100 years. 

The Duke Farms bald eagles can be observed bringing American shad to the nest in the early spring as the shad begin their run. This restored natural food source fuels the growth and eventual fledging of the eagle chicks at Duke Farms, illustrating the power of a fully functioning ecosystem.


Written by:

barreladmin

June 5, 2024