Saturday, December 09, 2006
OH HAPPY DAY…
2:00 AM Saturday, December 9, 2006
The US Congress passed legislation designating about 24 miles of the Musconetcong River for inclusion to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The news came from Beth Barry, who succeeded me as the Musconetcong Watershed Association’s executive director in 2003. She and some stellar volunteers like Bill Leavens, Joyce Koch, Susan Dickey, Ed Secula, Cinny MacGonagle and others really made it happen, with the assistance of NPS (especially Jamie Fosburg, Paul Kenney and Bill Sharp), Heritage Conservancy (former staff Sharon Yates and Gary Bowles), and Quinn McKew of American Rivers. The latter group really helped see this thing through congress.
I am extremely happy, ecstatic, glad, even satisfied, if that is allowed. I began serving as MWA’s executive director in July 1997. Two months before that I led a group of MWA members, reporters, and Jamie Fosburg and Cassie Thomas of the National Park Service (Boston office) on a five-mile canoe trip between Hampton Park and Bloomsbury. The Philadelphia office staff already had their hands full with the Lower Delaware River, White Clay Creek, and Maurice River W&S studies. The canoe trip was more or less a kickoff for the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River Resource Eligibility and Classification report, and that officially began about the time I began working for the MWA. The study and subsequent designation process took seven years to complete. It took two years to work through the gears of the House and Senate. All that remains is a signature from the POTUS (egad!).
That was a wonderful seven years of windshield surveys, aquatic insect sampling, hikes, canoe trips, and meetings meetings meetings. The rewards of that job were slim -- money-wise. Real slim. The true reward was working with salt-of-the-earth people in that greatest of northern New Jersey watersheds, people who stepped up to the plate for their beloved river and the land and the communities that surround it. What a pleasure it was to be given personal tours of every nook and cranny of the 165 sq. mile watershed by the watershed residents. We persevered through a monumental series of township meetings (I figure at least 100 meetings), obtaining near unanimous support from 25 of 26 municipal governments in parts of Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties. We jumped though this hoop TWICE: once to do the study and once again to secure resolutions of support for the river management plan and subsequent designation. Pohatcong Township was the one rogue mini-state run by wimps and terrorized by some idiot screwball farmers that refused to support both the Musconetcong and Lower Delaware River studies – mainly due to concerns about imminent invasion by the Blue Helicopters of the UN.
And best of all, we created the definitive report, a compelling case statement proving that the Musky is one of the “outstandingly remarkable” rivers in the land.
I’ve canoed about 3000 miles over the past 10 years, and at least a thousand of those miles was on the Musky alone. It is my favorite sanctuary.
Over the next week or so I’ll be writing about what the wild and scenic designation means for the Musky and the main goals of the river management plan. One initiative is to liberate the river from several dams, and that effort is already underway. This wonderful turn of events can only help.
Until then, you might want to visit this link to find a few interesting stories about the river and its protectors.