Monday, March 05, 2007

Views from the canoe...

The Howler points at one of the ugliest farms in the region, a veritible factory of goose and steer manure that washes directly into the river over denuded stream banks, broken and eroded by the aforementioned critters. Almost enough to make one wish for a cul-de-sac subdivision. Other pic is the patriotic car wash in Hackettstown as seen from the center of the river.

It's just too cold to paddle today, 35 deg with 35 mph wind and chance of snow squalls. For shame because the Musconetcong is running at 2.30, not great but adequate and near the average daily mean (88 years of record).

Still thrilled that the Musky achieved National Wild and Scenic River status. It took nearly 13 years from the time the first petition was circulated to the 109th Congress eleventh hour decision to approve and subsequent signature by the POTUS.

The river still has serious problems from ag runoff, urban impacts from Hackettstown (see the photos at top of post), interstates and such like. The most important thing is to do no more harm and a Category One stream designation for the mainstem would be helpful. Dam removals are in the works, we have one plan, devised by Princeton Hydro, that would take out the first four lowhead dams from the Delaware confluence up to Bloomsbury. Make that 3 lowhead dams. One of the dams is 30 ft. high and it made the most wild stretch of river ineligible for W&S designation. It must and eventually will go, but will cost a small fortune.

There is also a mini-watershed management project starting up for a discreet section of the river between Hampton and Bloomsbury, which also happens to be a favored canoeing stretch at lower water levels. I could and probably will write a book about the sordid story of watershed management in the state of NJ, none sorrier nor more sordid than the MUSCONETCONG STORY. That will have to wait, as a book project on the Delaware River is under development, and that is a much happier tale to tell.

Looking forward to many paddling trips, hoping for one this weekend. I am leading a trip on the Musconetcong April 2 for the Outdoor Club of South Jersey.

Also planning a possible trip to Assateague National Seashore (Maryland) to catch the swallow, blackbird and early warbler migration, and of course, commune with the wild ponies.

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