Removal of the Hughesville Dam

State TrusteeNew Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Case Name:


United States of America

Restoration Types:

Habitat Creation; Habitat Enhancement; Population Support; Recreation


Affected DOI Resources:

; Other


Pohatcong and Holland Townships


Monitoring / Completed

Project Description

The Musconetcong River is a 45.7 mile tributary of the Delaware River in northern New Jersey. It supports one of New Jersey's most important trout fisheries, and is classified and managed as a Category 1 (C1) trout maintenance stream due to its cold water and suitable habitats that support trout year-round. A 24.2 mile section of the river was also designated as a National Wild and Scenic River by Congress in 2006. The river was historically used by anadromous species, including American shad, for spawning and nursery habitat but portions of the watershed had become inaccessible due to the more than 30 dams that were constructed for industrial use over the last 300 years. After the removal of the Finesville and Riegelsville Dams in the early 2010s, the Hughesville Dam was the downstream-most barrier on the Musconetcong River. Located about 3.5 miles from the confluence of the Delaware River, the Hughesville Dam was constructed in 1889 by John L. Riegel and the Warren Manufacturing Company to generate hydropower for a paper mill. The original dam was likely a timber crib dam but it had been replaced with a 18-foot high, 150-foot wide concrete low-head dam with a 10 foot apron. It created a small impoundment extending about 2,000 feet upstream that trapped sediments and increased the water temperature on this section of the river. The dam powered the paper mill until 1999. To improve fish passage in the Musconetcong River, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) collaborated on a project to remove the Hughesville Dam. Prior to removal, the sediments that accumulated behind the dam were suction dredged and deposited into nearby settling lagoons. Once that was completed, a notch as cut into the dam to de-water the impoundment and the banks were stabilized using rocks and coconut fiber coir matting. The final portion of the dam was removed in September 2016, allowing migratory fish access to about 5.5 miles of the Musconetcong River. During the spring of 2017, American shad were observed upstream of the Hughesville Dam for the first time in almost 300 years. On June 3, 2022, the 4.3 mile segment of the Musconetcong River from the Delaware River to the former Hughesville Dam impoundment were added to the river's designation as a National Wild and Scenic River, bringing the total to 28.5 river miles. Funding for this project was provided by the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 and settlement funds for damages to natural resources from the Combe Fill South Landfill Superfund Site.

Restoration Land Ownership


Parties Implementing Restoration

Musconetcong Watershed Association; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

DOI Project Representatives

Fish and Wildlife Service

Water flowing over the Hughesville Dam two years before it was removed., Credit: USFWS

Prior to dam removal, the sediment was dredged and removed from the impoundment., Credit: Katie Conrad, USFWS

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Restoration Documents

Document NameDocument Date
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