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1/9/2014 - Update on Hamilton’s Efforts to Certify ‘Vernal Pools’ Across Community

Update on Hamilton’s Efforts to Certify ‘Vernal Pools’ Across Community  

In 2012, Hamilton Township, working with its volunteer Environmental Advisory Commission, received a $2,500.00 grant from the New Jersey Association of Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), to certify selected, potential ‘vernal pool’ basins across the community.

Vernal pools are small, intermittent wetlands that provide critical breeding habitat for many amphibians. Because they are typically less than a quarter of an acre in size and are frequently isolated from other wetlands, the pools were not covered under New Jersey’s original Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act in 1989.  State regulations, adopted in 2001, extended protection to these fragile systems.

Scientists from Kratzer Environmental Services and Biostar Associates, conducted field surveys at 30 locations, previously identified as potential vernal habitats.  The surveys were conducted between March and October of 2013.  Each site was examined in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Vernal Pool Protocol.  Multiple visits were made to each site in order to assess the physical and hydrologic characteristics, as well as the resident fauna.  Eight of the thirty sites, met the vernal pool certification criteria.

The data collected on the eight sites will be provided to the State Endangered and Non-game Species Program for certification and the sites will be placed on the statewide listing of certified vernal habitats.  The certification offers protection from development, especially during the drier months when the pools are more difficult to identify.

Any development application that impacts wetlands must be submitted to the NJDEP for review and for the issuing of permits to mitigate any impacts. The NJDEP currently cross-references land use permit applications with maps of certified ‘vernal pools’, but cannot protect pools that have not been previously certified.

Click Here to View the Full Vernal Pool Report...