The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks and Forestry has decided to permanently close the upper river campground at Bull’s Island Recreational Area along the Delaware River in Hunterdon County. The division will remove weakened trees in restoring the campground to a natural state.
A tree health assessment found that the upper campground is susceptible to silt buildup from repeated floods that weakened roots of trees in this area.
“Based on this examination and more frequent flooding, we determined that the prudent course is to permanently close the upper river campground area and restore it to a natural state,” said Amy Cradic, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources
Parks and Forestry will ultimately reopen this area for passive recreation only, when deemed safe for public access.
The down river campground will be closed this season to allow for further tree risk assessment. Day use activities in the lower river section of the recreation area, including the boat ramp and picnic area, will remain open.
The Division of Parks and Forestry may reopen the down river campground next season, if deemed appropriate to do so. Meantime, the division is evaluating acquisition of land away from the river for a new campground to replace the sites lost by the permanent closure of the upper campground.
The DEP conducted a tree health assessment after a Somerset County man died when a sycamore tree fell on his tent in the upper river portion of the campground in June 2011. A DEP contractor found that repeated flooding caused an accumulation of soil around the bases of the trees, which may have stressed the trees’ root systems.
Significant amounts of storm debris remain in the area following the passage of Hurricane Irene last August. After removing this debris, standing trees, and other vegetation, the Division of Parks and Forestry will replant the area with tree species adapted to areas that are frequently flooded and which grow slowly.
Campground access roads will not be rebuilt and the bath house and other campground features will be removed. Public access will be restored for passive recreation only. DEP also will contact universities in the state about partnering on a long-term landscape restoration plan.