Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lackawaxen Eloquent...

Pic#1 The relatively clean Lackawaxen River runs into the polluted Delaware River (see below for explanation)

Pic#2 Common Merganser chics (AKA Jesus Ducks) literally run across the surface of the river. They do this when threatened by paddlers (or serious predators like Snapping Turtles). The baby Jesus Ducks can often be seen crammed together riding on the hen's back.

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


Noel Rickert gingerly steps over the smelly mattress and walks his "gang plank" made with the aluminum latter he found during the recent river cleanup.

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


Top: The Pennsy crew works on a City of Easton containment boom, 2/3 which was removed and placed on the canal bank. It took bolt cutters, a hack saw and pole saws to free it. (Pic taken by Sandy Greger)

Below: NJ Youth Corps members pose in front of the growing trash pile. (pic taken by Wally Jenness)

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:

Sponsoring Organizations
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;

Participating Organizations
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 gillard@aol.com

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Operation RiverBright

Sign-up: rivergeek@verizon.net

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.