Friday, August 31, 2007

Drought Watch on PA side of river

Musconetcong River at Bloomsbury as it looked during the 1999 drought, just a month before Hurricane Floyd took the river well out of its banks.

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

Like I said...$10 per gallon

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

FossilFuel Fools on the River

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.


Lobotomies for Republicans: IT'S THE LAW!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

One River With Multiple Personalities

Pic #1 Looking upstream at Mill Rift, just upstream from Elephant Feet Rocks.
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

Normal flow and abnormal weather...

I lived in the CABIN for 7 years, 7 months and 7 days. It still stands along the Perkiomen Creek in Montgomery County, PA, and is situated on a SERIOUS floodplain. I sat on my porch for the duration of the #6 record flood, and watched as my car bobbed while tethered to a tree. Still dream about the cabin, and the scent of Atlantic Cedar is a powerful olfactory-based memory trigger.

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

Dog Daze...

Cheat River at Holly Meadows. Homewaters of the Parsons clan.

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."