Monday, December 17, 2007
My "otre significante" is scared of rodents. Very scared, which is why I posted this wonderful photo of a Giant Rat that was discovered in Papua Province, Indonesia (I'll find out if she really visits this blog). It's supposedly five times the size of the average urban rat. Came upon the story and above photo in the Australian daily "The Age."
Conservation International also discovered a tiny possum, which they described as one of "the world's smallest marsupials."
Another confession...I have a long history of deriving pleasure from exploiting the nature-related phobias of people. That especially applies to insects (bugs), but also snakes, spiders, and just about any other animal.
At an early age I learned that two aunts (Ginny and Polly Parsons) could be made to cry "eeeek" by chucking a bug in their direction. Repeat it a few times and I could then simply pretend to throw a bug at them and they would still scream. With just a virtual wave of the hand I could command a chorus of shrieks and howls followed by protests and threats. Repeat and run.
And then there were the strategically placed rubber snakes and spiders. One such snake was placed on my cabin porch, specifically in honor of a visit from another Aunt Ginny Parsons (Cooper), who despite being a genuine huckleberry-picking mountain woman was deathly afraid of snakes. Upon seeing my foot-long rubber snake she performed an astoundng vertical jump of nearly five feet, which was about how tall she stood.
I haven't exploited Sherry-baby's fears with either real or rubber rodents. All I need to do to get her totally skeevied out is describe the imaginary rat that just ran behind the refrigerator, including tail length, weight, color, etcetera. Speaking of rats -- is this the quote of the year?
"My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions."
George W. Bush
Okay...that' so reassuring.
I'm sure Bertie the Bunyip made
lots of decisions in his/her day too.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Check out L. R. Brunner's recent post from Turkey. She offers some great insights into the universal nature of teens and the travails of an untrained English teacher. Her blog is listed at the top of my links.
The lowhead dam on Tohickon Creek (pictured left) at Ralph Stover State Park has finally been demolished. There is a nice gentle drop and rapid where the dam once stood.
The Tohickon Creek from Stover down to the Delaware River offers some of the best whitewater in the region. This area also has some of the best hiking opportunities, especially on the Bucks County Park side of the creek, where one can walk from High Rocks all the way down to within a half mile of the Delaware River. Not an easy trail, but ideal for rock hoppers.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Eric S and Wally J (pictured above) met me for a pre-Turkey Day paddle from Kingwood to Byram. The Delaware River was running strong at just over 6' and we had the river to ourselves except for one motorboater near the end. It was rejuvenating just being out on the water, something none of us had done much of recently.
If the predicition of a warmer than normal winter comes true we'll have many more opportunities to paddle the Delaware River and its tributaries over the next 3 months.
Monday, November 12, 2007
And it is always advisable to visit off season when the mosquitos are down and out. This makes the ponies happy and when they are happy, I am happy.
Happiness is a good thing, so we headed to Assateaggue last weekend, staying at the Victorian era Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, MD. Normally we camp next to the dunes, but this time the warmth and ease of the hotel won out.
Only downside was we only had just two days to beach comb and view the sunset.
According to the gage at Riegelsville the river shot up almost a foot so far today. A cursory look at upriver gages such as the Brodhead Creek at Minisink Hills show that the upper watersheds are getting more precipitation out of the storm. The Musconetcong River has been disapointingly low despite the release from Lake Hopatcong. We wait impatiently for it to rise so it can be paddled a few times before winter sets in.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Pic #2 Rivermom was among the 100 notable paddlers of the 20th Century.
Rivermom is gone but her legacy will live on for generations.
A member of the Chicago Whitewater Association (click to visit their memorial page, where the above pictures were borrowed), Marge 'Rivermom' Cline was best known as an American Canoe Association instructor. She was included in Paddler Magazine's list of the 100 most influential paddlers of the twentieth century. Check that link for her writeup, and also take note that Harold Deal appears right below Rivermom.
She came to Phillipsburg during the heatwave of 1998 (or was it '97?) to teach ACA Instructor Trainer and ACA Instructor Certification courses for solo and tandem canoe. I was among the later group of fortunate students to do a cert course under the guidance of one of the nation's most famous and prolific teachers. The course took place over two consecutive weekends at Phillipsburg, Round Valley Reservoir, and Lambertville Wing Dam, where the class was also visited by Harold Deal and Dan House.
Rivermom was a demanding instructor who put a lot of emphasis on teaching & learning theory and requiring her students to demonstrate their teaching skills, as opposed to just focusing on paddling technique. I can also testify that she liked to show off her canoeing headstand - in this case she did it in a solo canoe on a choppy Round Valley Reservoir. She also demonstrated some awesome Freestyle Canoeing technique.
Visit the Chicago Tribune for a wonderful obit. RIP Rivermom.
Kayak, canoe master
Indomitable paddling instructor who drew thousands into the water held safety in high regard, but also knew how to have a good time
By Trevor Jensen Tribune staff reporter
November 1, 2007
A master of canoe and kayak, Marge Cline was one of the top paddling instructors in the country. A stickler for safety and proper technique in her classes, she thrived on the exhilaration of taking on a wild river. Her signature move was a headstand in the bow as her canoe shot through white water...
Monday, October 22, 2007
Well, they didn't get it completely right, but they have come closest to the truth. The NYC reservoirs did not cause any of the last three Delaware River floods. Permanent voids of 20% in the big reservoirs will NOT PREVENT flooding along the lower Delaware River floodplain.
Will leaving voids in the reservoirs reduce flooding? Maybe yes, maybe no. NOT if the preciptation during a particular storm event falls mostly within the Pennsylvania tributary watersheds and/or downstream from the reservoir drainage areas. The floodplain will flood again. Nothing will change that basic fact. Keeping the reservoirs at 50% won't stop flooding below Easton if the Pocono and Lehigh watersheds are pounded by rain on top of snow melt! The people who live along the river are there at the mercy of the river. Those who take positive action such as raising buildings or seeking a property buy-out are to be commended for accomodating reality.
This topic of Delaware River flooding is complex and involves many variables. The so-called "river rats" present a simplistic, fear based narrative that distorts both the historical flood record and watershed science. Unfortunately these distortions have become popular myth. They just keep repeating the lies over and over again to kind of catapult the propaganda. Reminds me of....oh never mind.
-- "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush May 25, 2005
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Clean Water Action is requesting that each of us contact our congressional representatives to express support for the Clean Water Act, which has been seriously undermined by the Smirking Chimp Administration. Click here to find out more.
SUPPORT SPECIAL PROTECTION WATERS for the Lower Delaware
PLEASE consider attending one of the informational meetings sponsored by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on the proposed Special Protection Waters designation for the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River. The non-tidal Lower Delaware River extends from the Delaware Water Gap to Trenton/Morrisville. The upper reaches from the Water Gap to Hancock, NY already have these regs in place, which is one of the reasons we have such clean water flowing down to the Lower Delaware.
The New Jersey meeting will be held Thursday October 25, 7:00-9:00pm at the Prallsville Mill, Rt. 29, Stockton. The Pennsylvania meeting will be held Thursday November 1, 7:00-9:00 pm, in Room 315, Acopian Engineering Building at Lafayette College, Easton. Go to the DRBC website for more information.
The FINAL PUBLIC HEARING on DRBC’s proposed SPW designation will be held on Tuesday, December 4, 2:30pm at the DRBC, 25 State Police Drive , West Trenton, NJ. We need to you to attend and speak up for the river and this crucial designation in order to make sure that the high quality waters of the Lower Delaware River are kept clean and waters that need improvement are restored.
Letters in support of Special Protection Waters designation are urgently needed. Please send your letter for the record to DRBC today –deadline for all letters is December 6, 2007. Let the DRBC know you care about the Delaware River!
For a sample letter go to www.delawareriverkeeper.org (see my links list) and look for action alerts.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress enacted the “Lower Delaware River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” which included most of the Lower Delaware River into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network then petitioned the DRBC to designate the Lower Delaware River as Special Protection Waters (SPW), a classification system that is similar to New Jersey’s Category 1 water quality classification and Pennsylvania’s Exceptional and High Quality classification program..
The DRBC collected water quality data showing that that the Lower Delaware has higher water quality than the existing minimum standards. Based on that, the DRBC has decided to move towards permanent SPW for this section to protect that high quality and the exceptional resources that merited it Wild and Scenic status. The goal of SPW is to maintain exceptionally high scenic, recreational, and ecological values or water supply uses.
The SPW regulations address point sources of pollution by requiring higher levels of treatment (Best Demonstrable Technology) for new large discharges that are reviewed by the DRBC. This applies to new and/or expanded discharges to tributaries and the main stem. DRBC will set water quality targets at set points in the river and at the mouth of major tributaries based on the water quality data they collected and analyzed. These targets will establish existing water quality parameters for discharge permits. Once water quality standards are established, it is also required that there will be no measurable change in existing water quality from new discharges for these higher-than-standard quality waters. An alternatives analysis that first considers no-discharge technologies is also required.
The Special Protection Waters program also requires that nonpoint source pollution control plans to be prepared by applicants proposing new discharges and/or new large water withdrawals. Best management practices and infiltration strategies for new development will be required to prevent, manage, and recycle stormwater runoff.
In short -- Please take the time to write a letter to the DRBC supporting Special Protection Waters.
Need more information or inspiration? Email me at email@example.com.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Today is American Rivers Blog Action Day, which they say is "uniting bloggers from around the world to put one important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment."
Nearly 9,000 bloggers - with an audience reach of 6.5 million subscribers - are blogging about rivers today, so they say.October through March is when we like to paddle the smaller creeks and rivers. Right now most are still too low but November usually brings a fair amount of rain to bring the flows back up.
In an earlier post I erroneously stated that this year is the Five-year/five-foot drawdown of Lake Hopatcong, which brings steady flows to the Musconetcong River. However, upon checking with Cliff Lundin (former Mayor of Hopatcong and Musconecong Watershed Assoc. Trustee) the five-year drawdown won't happen until 2008. He said "Regular 26 inch drawdown starts Nov 1. It goes at the higher outflow rate until its down 26. Next year is the big one. 60 inch drawdown starts after Labor Day."
OK paddling buds, help me remember that. LABOR DAY '08. This year is only 26" and Cliff tells me that with the drought the lake is already down 7 inches. It won't take long to go down the remaining 19 inches unless we get a big storm. Still, let's remain optimistic that November will be an average precipitation month and if that is the case we'll have many happy, albeit chilly days of creek and small river paddling in store.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Didymo found in trout streams
Saturday, September 29, 2007
By David Figura, Outdoors editor
The presence of didymo, an invasive plant species commonly called "rock snot" by anglers, has been confirmed this week in two well-known trout streams in the Catskills.
Steve Lorence, fisheries manager of the DEC office in Delaware County, said sampling by aquatic biologists has confirmed the presence of the slimy brown-colored plant on at least five sections of the West Branch of the Delaware River, including the confluence with the Beaverkill. In addition, it's been found near the Route 191 bridge in Deposit on the West Branch of the Delaware River.
Unlike many aquatic nuisance plants, didymo or Didymosphenia geminata, grows on the bottom of flowing and still waters. It can develop thick mats even in fast-flowing trout streams. In its presence, fishing becomes difficult, the abundance of bottom-dwelling organisms declines, and trout and other fish that feed on those organisms also decline. It resembles rotting cardboard when it dries and rots.
Its presence in the Catskills, often touted as one of the premier trout-fishing areas of the state, could mean trouble for an area where millions of dollars in tourism related to fishing is spent each year. The microscopic algae cling unseen to waders, boots, boats, lures, hooks, sinkers, fishing line and other fishing gear, and remain viable for several weeks under even slightly moist conditions, according to the DEC.
Absorbent items - for example, the felt-soled waders and wading boots commonly used by stream anglers - can easily spread it. Canoeists and kayakers can also unknowingly contribute to its spread.
Lorence said the Beaverkill, a legendary trout stream, has not been tested yet as workers taking samples in the East Branch of the Delaware did not want to risk spreading the organism into that stream after wading in the other stream.
"Anyone who walks in the East Branch, and then the Beaverkill, could spread it," Lorence said.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The Delaware River is about as low as it can go in this era of controlled flow. Before the giant drinking water reservoirs were built and began releasing water during peiods of drought, it would have been possible to walk across many shallow sections of the river. An antique postcard depicting the Lambertville-New Hope Wing Dam shows many more exposed rocks than one would find today. For that matter, the Upper Delaware didnt support trout before the reservoirs were built, when the river was exclusively a warm water fishery.
The Delaware River at Belvidere shows the flow to be about 300 cfs below daily average for this time of year.
The following report deserves attention. What would the powers-to-be (the oil oligarchy) do if most of us were dependent on small, localized, renewable sources of energy? What lies would they then have to concoct to keep the military industrial complex beast alive? On the other hand, can we run bombers and ships with renewable energy sources? Solar powered ICBMs?
Study: Best Energy Strategies To Meet Demand For Electricity Are Green, Small And Local
The wisest energy strategy for the United States, and indeed other countries facing similar challenges, is to move away from their reliance on large-scale centralized coal and nuclear plants, and instead, invest in renewable energy systems and small scale decentralized generation technologies.
According to Benjamin Sovacool from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, these alternative technologies are simultaneously feasible, affordable, environmentally friendly, reliable and secure. His analysis (1) and recommendations are published in Springer’s journal Policy Sciences.
The electricity sector as it currently operates is at the mercy of natural disasters, price fluctuations, terrorist attacks and blackouts. Coupled with other, more long-standing problems such as increasing levels of pollution, growing vulnerability and inefficiency of transmission and distribution networks, and rising electricity prices related to disruptions and interruptions in fuel supply, these challenges add to the need for an evaluation of alternative energy technologies.
Sovacool studies in detail the current technological composition of, and challenges faced by, the American electric utility industry. He then evaluates the broad portfolio of energy technologies available to American electricity policy makers, against five criteria: technical feasibility, cost, negative externalities (or impact on human health and the environment), reliability and security.
Sovacool’s detailed analysis shows that three other sets of technologies – energy efficiency practices (like more efficient appliances), renewable energy systems (such as generators that create electricity from sunlight, wind, and falling water), and small-scale distributed generation technologies (such as generators that produce decentralized and modular power close to its point of consumption) – appear to offer many advantages over large and centralized nuclear and fossil fueled generators.
Sovacool’s paper shows how these alternative approaches can offer policy makers solutions to curb electricity demand, minimize the risk of fuel interruptions and shortages, help improve the fragile transmission network, and reduce environmental harm. He concludes that “it is these miniature generators – not mammoth and capital-intensive nuclear and fossil fuel plants – that offer the best strategy for diversifying electrical generation in a competitive energy environment.”
1. Sovacool BK (2007). Coal and nuclear technologies: creating a false dichotomy for American energy policy. Policy Sciences; 40:101-122 (DOI 10.1007/s11077-007-9038-7).
SOURCE: Springer Policy Science Journal
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Every stream in the Delaware River Basin, including the Delaware River is currently running below the median daily flow. Glaring example is the Musconetcong at Bloomsbury, where the gage reads 98 cfs. I don't recall seeing it that low since I've been reading this gage, and that's been about 14 years (oh mein godt!).
With no precipitation predicted any time soon, will the drought watch be revived?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sip sip sip...that's the sound of a parched landscape thirsting for for a real rain, which as of this morning has been but a mere drizzle. We could use a half inch of slow soaking rainfall, but it will more likely be a brief deluge.
Enjoyed a trip to the Upper Delaware last Saturday. Stayed at the Lackawaxen Inn where the Pike County Republicans were dining. Place was crawling with Banana Republicans -- stiff hair and all! (WHY ME LAWD?) And I had just received a new shipment of the bumper stickers and didn't have them with me. "Buck Fush" "Lobotomies for Republicans: It's the Law!" "Blood for Oil" Oh well.
We paddled two tandem canoes (I borrowed Wally's Dagger, a sweet canoe) from Narrowsburg to Lackawaxen. It is such a beautiful 12-mile stretch of the river. Looking forward to an autumn trip to the Upper Delaware.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The lovely dry weather continues but that may be interrupted by tropical storm Gabrielle brewing east of Florida, one that foreCATsters suspect might ride up the coast. We could stand a soaking as long as it's brief. Trouble may be brewing though and the weather man says beware...this could become an East Coast Hurricane.
Says AccuWeather: As the high moves over the Atlantic it will bring the low pressure closer to the East Coast....Meteorologists are concerned the system will reach hurricane strength before reaching the East Coast, likely impacting coastal areas from South Carolina to southern New England.
Helped out with the harvest of Gewurztraminer, Ravat 51 and Marechal Foch yesterday. We crushed about 6 tons of grapes. It looks like 2007 will be a good vintage, what with all the California like weather we're enjoying.
Looking forward to an overnighter in Lackawaxen and canoe trip on the upper Delaware this weekend. Balm for the soul.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Pennsylvania declared a drought watch for all counties except the eastern part of the state several weeks ago. The eastern portion of the state was added to the watch last week. Most of eastern PA flows to the Delaware River.
Looking around the Delaware River Basin most streams are running at or slightly below normal.
Of course, the calendar is nearing the peak of the hurricane season (Sept. 10) and this is when tropical storms are most likely to form. Indeed, Tropical Storm Felix may be forming right now.
A few of our recent droughts have been broken by tropical storms and hurricanes, notables being Hurricane Floyd and Tropical Storm Allison.
Let's hope for rain to come after the hurricane season ends.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Concerning the editorial of the last post about the oily Republican geniuses who are destroying this nation: they must be really desperate. None of their lies and scare tactics are working, so they've rolled out a new gem that is sure to scare your pants off:
WASHINGTON -- Gasoline prices could rise to about $9 per gallon if the United States withdraws troops from Iraq prematurely, Rep. Jon Porter said he was told on a trip to Iraq that ended this week.
Welcome to the United States of BOO!
No, he is not a DemonCrat. He is a Banana Repuglican.
Some visitors to this blog may wonder what the oily Empire Builders and war profiteers have to do with our beloved river valley. The national addiction to fossil fuels (leaving room for coal here) overlaps and permeates every aspect of our society, and the impact on the natural world is there to be seen for anyone who cares to see. The harm done to humans is even more evident. That's not to say we aren't part of the "natural world." We need to keep feeding the beast.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Dear Mr. Brunner,
My Family and I went tubing on the Delaware River this past weekend and were almost hit numerous times by jet ski's. In addition these jet ski's left behind a noxious smell of gasoline. My question is: Is anything being done to prevent gas motors from being used on the Delaware, one of the last rivers left in New Jersey where one can take a swim?
I got your name with help from Sierra Club Members.
Thanks, Bill W.
Dear Mr. Bill:
I have been involved with this issue as far back as 1993 during my stint with Delaware Riverkeeper and have found a few effective ways to cope that could be considered a surrender of sorts. I do not paddle the river on weekends during the summer and if you must do that, be on the water by 9 AM at the latest because most of the rumb dedneck jetskiers are still sleeping off a hangover! I know you won't be taking your family tubing in the winter, but that is one of my favorite times to paddle; nothing like the serenity of the river after a snow storm.
An even better tactic for jet ski avoidance is to visit the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area or the Upper Delaware National Scenic River. That 100 + mile stretch of river is managed by National Park Service and jet skis are banned. Motor boats have strict speed limits that discourage water skis and jetboats. The water quality is even better upriver, although tubing would not be a good idea in the Class II rapids of the Upper Delaware.
I realize these methods for coping with the the motorheads probably wouldn't help most people who might be limited to using the river locally and on weekends.
As for the pollution problems and habitat destruction that motorized boaters cause in the river, I don't think the states care about that at all. What they do care about are the revenues that come from boat registrations.
It's important to remember that the two state agencies responsible for enforcing boater laws in the lower Delaware River (PA Fish & Boat Commission and NJ Marine Police) receive revenue from registration of jet skis and motor boats, so you can imagine why they wouldn't want to ban jet skis. PA Fish & Boat is very open about their dependency upon registration fees, as the preceding link illustrates. At the same time, budgetary problems mean neither NJ nor PA provide much in the way of traffic enforcement of boater laws. The NJ Marine Police rarely if ever patrol the non-tidal Delaware because they have their hands full in coastal waters dealing with similar problems.
To its credit the National Park Service actually cares about things like water quality and air quality, not to mention the solitude and beauty that jetskiers are inherently incapable of appreciating. With support from organizations up and down the river, NPS has withstood the challenges to the motorized restrictions that are in place upriver, this despite the Bush administration's insidious influence on the Interior Department.
Even if we built yet one more coalition to address jet ski use, I think the most we could hope for at this point is increased enforcement. I've observed bad actors and also people who use these noisy stinkpots with a degree of courtesy.
A comprehensive recreational survey for the lower Delaware River is badly needed, and could be a starting point for assessing the problem. If you are interested in pursuing this further let me know.
Good luck, JB
Jet skis, snowmobiles, cigar boats, SUVs, leaf blowers, plastic bottles, suburban sprawl, obesity: all are one way or another related to oil. It's enough to make me wish for $10 per gallon gasoline prices.
As a nation we're hopelessly addicted to oil. But are we so addicted that we're willing to choose oil executives to run this country? (For those of us who believe the Turd Blossom and the RNC stole two elections the answer would be no). The Busheviks and their ilk have no problem sacrificing the blood of 3700 economically depressed young Americans and 700,000 Iraqis for oil. They have offered up a virtual menu of terror alerts, noble causes and organically produced BS to sustain our complicity.
It will all come crashing down some day with some heavy bad Karma, and when that time comes the planet will be better off, when there's no more oil in the trough. Not in my lifetime maybe, but it is inevitable.
Enough of that! I'm going to drive over to New Hope and buy a Creamsicle now.
BUMPER STICKER OF THE MONTH
Lobotomies for Republicans: IT'S THE LAW!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Pic #2 Lunch stop at Buckhorn Natural Area.
The Delaware is one great river, but seen as a water body its characteristics reflect geology and topography as it flows down from its headwaters to its tailwaters. The Delaware River cuts through four physiographic provinces: the Appalachian Plateau, Valley and Ridge (and Highlands subset), Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.
These physiological features have driven the patterns of human settlement and enterprise from the late Paleolithic period to the present.
And in the 21st century the primary activity that occurs in the Applachian Plateau stretch of the river is non-motorized boating with a mild whitewater flavor. The Upper Delaware is the most visited stretch of the river which speaks to its proximity to the NYC metro area and its abundance of class two water. It is also arguably the prettiest section of the river, at least in terms of its natural beauty.
I tend to paddle that which is near me and the Upper River is over 100 miles upstream. So any trip to the Upper Delaware National Scenic River is a rare treat, and so it was last Wednesday when I traveled to Barryville NY for a 10.5 mile run down to Matamoras PA. Neither rain nor mist can diminish the pleasures of playing in the rapids, surrounded by mountains and watched by Bald Eagles. I met up with a soggy group of paddlers from the Mohawk Canoe Club who were on the last day of a 5-day 75-mile canoe and camping trip between Hancock and Matamoras.
I'll be heading back with a group of Piedmont friends to do a slightly longer version of the stretch (7.5 miles longer actually) on September 8. A Mormon needs his Tabernacle, a Catholic her Cathedral, a Moslem his Mosque, a holy roller....well, point being that a river or creek is the only santuary that I need for spiritual uplift.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Really, with all these clouds and coolness one might expect a boost in the flow of the rivers and creeks, but everything is running near normal for this time of year with the Riegelsville gage at 3.50'.
That's OK, we need the rain and it would take a substantial amount to move the gages upward.
Is there a scientific peer review group analyzing the BS claims of the self-described "river rats?" You know... the "reservoirs did it" crowd. I'll never tell. Not this month at least.
I am hoping to meet some folks on the Upper Delaware tomorrow night, camp out and do the sweet 10.5 run from Jerry's Campground to Matamoras. I'll be doing a repeat of that on my own with some friends on September 8. It's about time as I haven't been up there for a few years except for the Lackawaxen River trips.
I suddenly realized that posts on this blog have been even more sparse than ever, but it's summer and I am busy as hell with the vineyard gig and working for the Sourland Mountain folks. Things are kind of quiet on the river.
A paddling buddy asked me what happened to the comment section on this blog. I told him that it was hardly ever used, except by the ocassional dull-witted conservative banana Republican and of course spamsters and hucksters of sexual enhancement products. My email address can be found here. Enough said.
I may be elected President of the Delaware Valley Division of the American Canoe Association next month. They have one foot in the grave. Electing me is like a one legged man shooting himself in the foot. Well, if this election comes to pass, I intend to do everything in my power to invigorate this Board of Directors; ain't going to be easy, but there are some good new folks coming on board.
Meanwhile, my tenure as an at-large delegate on the national BOD of the American Canoe Association is nothing short of wild and crazy. We're involved in an uber contentious move to relocate the ACA headquarters to one of three locations. That decision has been made and the results of the vote will be annouced to the BOD TODAY.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Returned from the Parsons Family Reunion in Canaan Valley WVA ready to face the dog days of August. It rarely gets above 80 deg. in the highest Allegheny Mountains. The valley is above 3000' and the surrounding mountains are 4000' and up. This reunion marked a generational shift as all but one of 13 Parsons children of Cyrus Parsons (he married twice) have died. That would be my mother Ruth (Parsons) Brunner who is 90 yrs. of age (she lost two brothers over the past 2 years). She just wasn't up to making the trip, which is about 5.5 hours drive. My mother's sister-in-law, Virginia Parsons still hosts the reunion picnic and she is 95!
The Delaware River and most of its tributaries are running at or slightly below the median daily discharge. One exception is the Musconetcong River which appears to be benefiting from a 130 CFS release from Lake Hopatcong, just enough to perk it up a bit above average. We need rain but we don't need 6 inches in one day so let's hope for a moderate end to the summer and a storm-free autumn.
Read a compelling piece this morning penned by local writer Chris Hedges that gives a pessimistic view on where Iraq is headed (hint: it's not headed where Bush says it is headed). Hedges was a foreign correspondent working in the Middle East and the Balkans for the NYT. He is not too kind to those on the NYT staff (Friedmann and Safire) who led the cheering section for the Iraq so-called war (isn't it really an occupation?).
Hedges says in "Beyond Disaster": "The war was not doomed because Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz did not do sufficient planning for the occupation. The war was doomed, period. It never had a chance. And even a cursory knowledge of Iraqi history and politics made this apparent."
Yes, anyone who has seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia would have had enough reason to doubt idiots like Bush, Cheney and Rummy. But maybe they never believed their own BS. Maybe they really aren't idiots. Maybe they are just pure evil, and were counting all along on chaos and bloodshed, knowing that anything less than a complete collapse of Iraq would jeopardize their oil grab. OUR oil grab. Maybe causing the needless deaths of several hundred thousand innocent people means nothing to your average Bush-supporting Republican. Afterall, Iraqis have brown skin and aren't Christian, and if we don't fight them over there they will be fighting us here in the streets of Lambertville, right? Eh, what's a few hundred thousand dead? OK...700, 000 killed. We need to keep our fossil fuel based society humming right along.
More on that here from my favorite curmudgeon of Clusterfuck Nation fame -- James Howard Kunstler:
"You can spin out any number of strategic scenarios about what is liable to happen in the Middle East from here on, with or without America trying to run a police station there, and none of them are good. They range from Iran gaining control of twenty percent of the world's remaining oil, to a free-for-all world war joined by virtually all the nations capable of projecting military power into the region. We'd be stuck with the consequences because we are otherwise too cowardly, lazy, and greedy to face our situation at home -- which is simply that we cannot keep running a drive-in utopia. We have to make other arrangements and we have to make them now.
Our denial runs deep and hard. Even the educated minority (including the tech wonks) believe that we can run the freeways and the WalMarts on alternative fuels. They flatter themselves listening to the morning yammer about "renewables" on NPR as they make the daily commute from, say, the suburban asteroid belts of Northern Virginia into Washington, DC. They bethink themselves progressive, cutting edge, morally superior in their Priuses.
The major media have done a huge disservice to the public in supporting these delusions. CBS's 60 Minutes show did it twice this year already, broadcasting one segment that flat-out stated the Alberta tar sands would solve all our problems, and then a second segment a few weeks later stating that coal liquefaction would keep everything humming indefinitely. CNN ran a prime-time Sunday show the week before last saying that we could keep running all our cars on ethanol forever. The damage that this disinformation might do is really out of this world.
What can we do? Oil man Jeffrey Brown of Dallas has made the interesting suggestion that we replace some or all of the national income tax with a substantial national gasoline tax. A congressional debate over that would be worth hearing. It would be a good start in concentrating our minds in the right direction: that is, toward the problems we have created for ourselves at home. There are many other things we could do also, from rebuilding our railroads to removing incentives for suburban development. They would all require major shifts in our behavior. We can either begin them voluntarily or wait for events to compel us to live differently. In the absence of that, our presence in Iraq is not optional."
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Drove up to Lake Luzerne NY in southern Adirondacks this past Monday with American Canoe Association Executive Director Pam Dillon to look at one of the eight potential relocation sites for ACA headquarters.
The Adirondack Region is spectacularly beautiful. The Town of Lake Luzerne is like a fine New England village, surrounded by lakes and the Hudson River and Sacandaga River. This trip was a nice opportunity to chat with Pam and learn a great deal about the inner workings of ACA past and present.
Over the weekend the ACA Board of Direcors met at another possible relocation site -- Fredericksburg VA, along the banks of the Rappahannock River. They treated us like royalty as did the folks in Lake Luzerne.
In a few days I head to Canaan Valley West Virginia for the annual Parsons Family Reunion, one of my favorite beautiful and wild places.
After that it's back to my mundane existence as a vineyard man and rivergeek.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is preparing to hold another round of hearings on the Flexible Flow Mangement Plan. The hearings will be in August.
Meanwhile I still haven't found time to develop a concise response to "the reservoirs did it" crowd (unruly mob?). That will happen when it happens. But the delusional behavior of these folks is apparently boundless. It's the type of stupidity that is born of fear and ignorance and spawns things like racism, fundamentalist religion, and the Bush 2 administration -- world champions at promoting and relying upon fear and ignorance.
This river has recovered from the nasty sediment plume and the Delaware River and its tribs are slightly below the median daily flow, which is to say low flow. I am looking forward to one camping trip above the Water Gap and at least one paddle trip on the Upper Delaware between Barryville and Matamoras. I'll be posting the dates in case any of you blog lurkers want to come along.
Meanwhile I will be traveling with fellow American Canoe Association Directors to Lake Luzerne (Adirondack Mts.) this coming week to check out potential ACA headquarters and later that week to Fredericksburg VA for same, where the city and Mary Washington U. are hosting our Board of Directors meeting and pitching a few locations in and around Fredericksburg for the new digs. ACA must vacate its overpriced and unattractive offices located in heavily suburbanized Springfield VA, located near DC. An office along the Rappahannock River would be nice. At the end of the month I'll be traveling to Canaan Valley WVA for the annual Parsons Family Reunion.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Pic #3 A mixed group of canoes and kayaks head for the next bend of the river.
It's been a long 2 years since I've paddled the Lackawaxen River and Monday offered a rare opportunity as PP&L agreed to do a special release from Lake Wallenpaupack for the Annual Delaware River Sojourn.
It is such a beautiful, classic mountain river with many nice Class II rapids and lovely Pocono scenery. Joined a mixed group of folks from the Hackensack Canoe Club and Mohawk CC. Extraordinary group of paddlers as everyone seemed to get totally into the river vibe with a minimum of yacking that can sometimes present a rude intrusion upon the river's magestic rhythm. We took the time to surf here and there and received free entertainment watching members of the Sojourn float through the rapids...without their boats...which they unexpectedly fell out of upon impact with the boulders.
On a more somber topic, the river above the Delaware Water Gap was choked with sediment and that has since reached Phillipsburg-Easton as of this morning. I ran into Sandy S of the National Park Service yesterday along Lackawaxen trip and she said we were witnessing the plume of muddy water that is slowly moving down the Delaware from the terrible flooding in the Beaverkill watershed that killed 6 people last week and caused massive erosion. The Beaverkill is an East Branch Delaware River tributary located in Sullivan County NY.
Watch for the nasty plume plume of muddy water, which is expected down here in Lambertville tonight.
On a positve note, by the end of the Lackawaxen trip the Delaware River at Lackawaxen was beginning to clear up. But it is big enough of a plume that is will linger in each section of the river for a day or so. Much of the sediment will fall out into the recently flood-scoured pools and eddies. And so the cycle goes.
Monday, June 18, 2007
The NYC reservoirs are still above 90%, as they should be this time of year, but that doesn't mean we aren't flirting with a drought.
All the tribs and the main stem Delaware River (3.22' at Riegelsville) are well below median avg. daily flow. What rain we do get is taken by the vegetation.
The Delaware River always has enough water to paddle a canoe or kayak, except perhaps for a few spots upstream from Lordville, NY. These are ideal conditions for practicing whitewater skills at the Lambertville Wing Dam and other rocky places along the Delaware such as Skinners Falls and Foul Rift.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Way back in the beginning of my 'river-and-watershed' career I tended to dismiss stream cleanups in the mistaken belief that there are so many other pressing problems needing attention. That all changed when I began working on French Creek in Southeastern PA, and I became a full convert of this hands-on activity when I came to work on the Musconetcong River and Delaware River.
Now I know the truth: There is no other more vital and more effective way to protect and improve our streams, rivers and watersheds than removing unsightly and ecologically malignant objects that have no place on the land or water. Things like plastic tarps, shopping bags, toilet seats, half-full cans of gasoline, styrofoam mattresses, baby strollers, tires, beverage cans and glass bottles, corrugated metal roofs, and even more plastic-plastic-plastic bottles. Each of you worked hard and got your hands dirty making a cleaner, healthier river!
It is in that spirit that I thank each and every individual and organization who came out for this past Saturday to improve the river. Your outstandingly remarkable efforts made the '07 Operation RiverBright one of the most rewarding and successful river cleanups I have ever witnessed.
A few of you were not representing any organization; we are glad we found you through the local newspapers!
The key organizations that came together to made this happen were:
Delaware River Greenway Partnership (they began Operation RiverBright as Project River Bright about 10 years ago), Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic River Management Committee, National Park Service, American Rivers, and American Canoe Association;
Delaware Canal State Park (PA DCNR) (they provided trash disposal services and excellent facilities for our use), New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg, American Canoe Association, National Canoe Safety Patrol - Lower Delaware Chapter, Mohawk Canoe Club, Hunterdon County Canoe Club, and the Outdoor Club of South Jersey. Lazy River Adventures of Phillipsburg contributed canoes for the Youth Corps volunteers, and ShopRite of Flemington generously donated supplies including trash bags, gloves, water and snacks.
A very special thanks to: George and Leona Fluck of the National Canoe Safety Patrol (and all your participating members), paddling buddy Eric Sween (Bethlehem Twp. NJ Environmental Commission) for extraordinary ground support and trailer/shuttle services, and Mike Muckle of the NJ Youth Corps and all his dedicated young people. Check the NCSP website for photos of the cleanup and the training day with the Youth Corps: http://www.ncspldc.org/
I sincerely hope we can work together again soon. There is so much more to do!
PS: A Safety Patrol member left behind a Teal Color mesh bag at the Phillipsburg access. It had a couple of throw bags, PFD, spray skirt and a bunch of yellow rubber duckies (used for military water survival class). If found contact Stu Gillard (NCSP) 609-577-0093 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, June 03, 2007
RIVER CLEANUP SATURDAY JUNE 9
Looks as if we'll get a pounding from remnants of Tropical Rainstorm Barry, but it will be a short bout, one night and out. I don't expect the storm to take the river up too high for the upcoming river cleanup. The Delaware River at Belvidere is still below avg. daily median flow, as is Riegelsville and all the tribs.
We have a great group of volunteers from the National Canoe Safety Patrol - Lower Delaware Chapter lined up for both the Friday morn river training provided for the NJ Youth Corps (5 safety/instructors including me) and the Saturday cleanup itself (14).
I will be out on the water this Wednesday eve (6 PM) to scout, anyone interested let me know (for cleanup participants only). I do know that we will concentrate on some of the smaller gravel islands, easy and safe pickings, and certain areas frequented by Redneck fishermen.
We still need more volunteers, so please sign-up and bring along some friends.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
RIVER CLEANUP SATURDAY JUNE 9
Been too busy to write an account of the 16th Annual United Nations International School trip through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. A few photos will have to do for now.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
#2) Getting set for the United Nations International School canoe trip.
RIVER CLEANUP JUNE 9 - PLEASE SIGN UP IF HAVEN'T ALREADY
This week I'll be canoeing in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area with 120 thirteen year old students from the United Nations International School. I organized this trip 15 years ago for the school on behalf of Delaware Riverkeeper, and it has become the right-of-passage for students entering the 9th grade.
We typically have about 34 nationalities represented each year. 120 kids means 60 canoes to monitor, instruct, rescue etc. (not including the 8 teachers). Forty-five miles in three days and two nights camping in bear country! (Dingmans Ferry to Portland PA.)
I say we because there are about 8 teachers and perhaps 16 safety personnel. Two of us (Gene Beliner and me) have been on the trip 14 out of 15 times since it began in 1992. It was my first major task when I came to work for Delaware Riverkeeper.
Sometime before the end of May I will be posting a story.
Monday, May 14, 2007
According to the Riegelsville gage the river has fallen to 4.57, about normal for May 14. Tributaries like the Musconetcong River and Tohickon Creek are running at or just below normal.
This is all good. Flood threats are over but the topic is still hot all along the river valley from Hancock to Trenton.
The Delaware River Basin Commission has a new publication called "Water Supply Reservoirs and Flood Protection" available online that is purported to debunk the myths that have been accepted as truth about why the last three floods occured (the reservoirs did it). I haven't had time to read through it, but then I already know that these homespun theories being spun by self-described river rats are BS. One of these days I will write the definitive one page myth debunking piece. ONE OF THESE DAYS.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Eric, Wally, Jennifer and Jonathan join Sharon and me for the 10-mile stretch of river betwen Phillipsburg and Riegelsville. Main purpose was to get a feel for how the recent high water has changed the location and degree of trashiness along the river.
The Almost Flood of April '07 swept away some of the eddy trash, which has presumably lodged in trees and shrubs somewhere between Riegelsville and Cape May. Many areas are still blighted by all things plastic, from shopping bags to water bottles. We'll do a second recon of this river segment to make more detailed plans. One focus will be the sand and gravel islands below the Rt. 78 bridge.
Although this trip had a serious purpose, it was a releaxing and beautiful run, despite the occasional 25 mph winds. It was Arkansas native(s) Jennifer and Jonathan's first trip on the Delaware and that made it all the more more rewarding for the teacher in me.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR OPERATION RIVER BRIGHT
Volunteer boaters are needed on Saturday, June 9 to help remove litter from the river accesses, shorelines and islands along targeted sections of the Lower Delaware River between Easton-Phillipsburg and Riegelsville. Sign-in and shuttle begins at 8:00 AM and the cleanup will last until approximately 2 PM. Pre-registration is required (see below).
Operation River Bright offers a wonderful opportunity for recreational paddlers, fishermen, local residents, and organizations to give something back to the river by helping clean-up unsightly trash and debris, much of it left by the recent floodwaters.
To register and/or learn more about River Bright simply respond to this email. When registering please indicate what kind of boat you will be using. Further details about meeting time and place, shuttle arrangements and other details will be provided to registered volunteers.
The greatest need is for paddlers with canoes, but kayakers are also welcome. All paddlers will be required to wear a PFD while underway. We are also seeking a few powerboats and boaters to help out.
Operation River Bright is an American Canoe Association (americancanoe.org) sanctioned event, which means that we always follow their safety guidelines at all times. In the interest of safety and liability concerns we have found it is preferable to conduct river cleanups with people who have some degree of experience paddling on the river (with as many experienced paddlers as possible in the mix). In addition to a safer and more enjoyable experience, we accomplish more! In that regard I will once again offer a training day for the NJ Youth Corps members, who have been wonderful partners with Operation River Bright over the past several years.
Delaware River Greenway Partnership began sponsoring river cleanups in 1998 and continues to serve as the main event organizer. Other event participants and/or sponsors will include the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg, American Rivers, National Canoe Safety Patrol - Lower Delaware Chapter, Mohawk Canoe Club, Lazy River Outpost, National Park Service, and the Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River Management Committee. We will be adding more organization sponsors in the coming weeks.
I have paddled the river several times this past winter and with the leaves down it was even more evident that there is an enormous amount of trash on its islands and banks. One of the worst areas that can be found along the 200-mile non-tidal river is the 10-mile stretch between Easton-Phillipsburg and Riegelsville. It will take a sustained effort over the next few years to put a dent in the volume of the trash that blights the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River. Won’t you please give something back to the river and help Operation River Bright end this river blight?
Let me know if you can help.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
And running we were on Friday, April 20 with the Musky a brisk 3.62' which is well over what we are used to doing. Last trip was 2.10' and while that might not sound like much of a difference, on a small creek or river it is a big difference.
We did the 8-mile stretch between Penwell Dam and Hampton Borough Park in about 2 hours, considerably less time than usual.
Eric Sween, Wally Jenness and Chris Meyers made up the river running party on this sweet spring day. There were no fishermen (this is a major trout stocked river) until the last mile at the Pony Truss Bridge at New Hampton, and Hampton Borough Park. They were lined up and stood in surly silence as we rocked and slashed through some nice waves. I was grateful not to fall in for the boys coming though the breached Imlaydale dam, where the three canoeists among the group all took on some water. Eric, in a Dagger Creek boat (kayak) had a skirt and was dry (from the waist down).
No mishaps and a swell day on the river.
Breaking news: NJDEP is proposing that the Musconetcong River be upgraded to a Category One designation. More on this as the story develops.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The Delaware River at Riegelsville gage is finally flatlining at 21.37' which is several inches below the 22' flood stage for that gage; a little too close for comfort.
None of the other flood prone locations have flooded along the river, save for a few low-lying spots on river road on the PA side (Rt. 32). The Delaware River at Belvidere gage, which is upstream from the Lehigh River confluence, fell over 5' short of flood stage. At the Montague gage (30 miles above the Water Gap) the river fell about 7' short of flood stage.
Hmmm....the river came close to flooding at Riegelsville and New Hope, but didn't come close to flooding at locations further upriver in the direction of the...NYC reservoirs. Interesting.
Will the river rats... Blame it on the bossa nova?
Here's to a streak of sunny days and warm temps!
Monday, April 16, 2007
One can hope.
Looks like the river at Riegelsville will come close to leaving its banks, maybe even go over at 22.0' if it continues to rise. The Belvidere gage however is several feet from flood stage (also 22.0') and doesn't appear that it will come close at all (currently 15.85').
Port Jervis is another place that won't reach flood stage (currently 11.10').
Trenton is also predicted to have minor flooding.
What does this mean?
It doesn't appear that the upper Delaware River will be flooding, and the lower section of the non-tidal river may flood in two or three locations below Easton (the Lehigh confluence).
We'll take a look tomorrow.
The Delaware River at Riegelsville is at 16.26' as of 8:56 AM, about 6 feet below flood stage, and still rising. It won't likely crest until tomorrow morning so there may be some minor flooding as it is predicted to crest at 22.05'. The river at Belvidere is around 12.09' and rising, with flood stage at 22.0'.
Notables tribs are Musconetcong River, which rose to about 6.70' (6.0 is flood stage) and has fallen. The Lackawaxen River is just beginning to flatline at 8.96' and the Brodhead Creek is on the way down from 8.25, well short of flood stage at Minisink Hills gage.
The all important Lehigh River, which exerts the greatest influence for those living downstream of the Forks of the Delaware in Easton, is still rising and currently 7.70, but well short of flood stage. However it is enough to exacerbate the situation on the Lower Delaware. The Flat Brook at Flatbrookville is still rising at 9.05' well above the 6.0' flood stage. Good news is there are virtually no homes along that wilderness creek.
The Locatong Creek and is now at 7.84 having been as high as 9.10', over flood stage. The Wickecheoke Creek has also fallen from over 9.0' to 5.32'. Both of these shaly streams go up and down like a yoyo.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
This tells me that the lower non-tidal Delaware River tribs from the Lehigh River and downstream are experiencing the highest levels and that can be seen in the Musconetcong River, which has come up a remarkable three feet so far today and is now closing in on 5.50'. Flood stage is 6.0'. A three foot rise on a small river like the Musky is big.
Not to be outdone, the Wickecheoke Creek at Stockton has risen a shocking 6.0' today and is now clsoing in on 8.40'. The Wicky is just up the road and I will be heading out to look at it shortly. Across the Delaware the Tohickon Creek has also risen 3.0' and is still surging. This is well below the Riegelsville gage and impacts the river below Frenchtown NJ.
The Delaware River will definitely come up into the mid-teens before it is over, but the rain appears to be slowing a bit and hopefully it the river will crest sometime tomorrow morning.
That's the title of a future blog and it is a reaction the growing hysteria that has overcome so many self-decribed "river rats." Trouble is, unlike rats, which are fairly smart creatures, people whose ability to think is impaired by their anger and fear are most decidedly not smart, especially when these particular emotions are spawned by profound ignorance.
Here is an example of the not-so-smart reasoning from a "river rat" whose only apparent credentials are having lived along the Delaware River in New Hope for twenty years.
In making the case that the past three floods would have not occured except for mismanagement of the three NYC reservoirs located in the Catskill headwaters, this "river rat" points to Hurricane Floyd, when the reservoirs were below 80% capacity, and the river did not flood. Problem with this logic is this: Floyd visited in the midst of a prolonged drought, and the pounding tropical storm fell on parched land that absorbed much of the storm's wicked punch. The heaviest bands of rain fell in the lower watershed, specifically between the Water Gap and Milford NJ/UBE. Many tributaries flooded, but the Delaware stayed within its banks. The reservoirs were not full precisely because we were into a serious drought, the land was dryed out, water table low etc.
Floyd is but one phony example that the "river rats" are using to make the specious case that all their flooding woes are the result of reservoir mismanagement; as if what happens in 10% of the entire drainage basin completely controls what happens downstream. The architects of the MYTH are holding a public mass hysteria meeting this week at the New Hope firehouse and the local media will cover it to be sure.
The MYTH already has taken hold so deeply that it's doubtful that any amount of reason will root it out. After all, wouldn't it be so comforting to believe that the floods are the result of human error and incompetence? That would imply that the flooding could be prevented simply by changing policy. Keep the reservoirs at 75% and we''ll all be high and dry, happily inhabiting our floodplains without a worry.
What is the alternative? To believe that the floods are a random act of nature? An act of God?
Well guess what? Floodplains flood. Keep the reservoirs at 60% and flooding will still occur in this river's floodplain. People who live on it do so completely at the mercy of nature. Manmade influences (reservoirs and development) do count, but not anywhere remotely close to the degree people would like to believe, or have been led to believe.
Well that's my rant for today and maybe the week. I will be writing more comprehensively about this topic soon...any day now. So much BS to clean up.
Meanwhile, it's raining cats and dogs and the river is rising and the reservoirs are full!
-- "He who hears the rippling of rivers in these degenerate days will not utterly despair."
Henry David Thoreau