Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Canoeing in February...

Pic #1 Eric looks upstream at Rivergeek during a February trip down the Musky.
Pic #2 Chris shoots the last fish weir below the Musky Trout Hatchery.

Did an impromptu run down the Musconetcong between Hampton and Bloomsbury with Chris and Eric. I call this stretch the "same ol' same old" because it is generally deeper with only a few gravel bars. It was a chilly day but not bad for February, which is one of the best months to paddle for those who prefer sharing the river with only a few people and many ducks.

We portaged at the Musconetcong Watershed Association's future "River Resource Center" in Asbury. I came up with this simple name for a grant proposal while serving as MWA's Executive Director around the turn of the century. Ironically, one of the reasons I left MWA's employ, besides the fact that they weren't paying me, was because of the realization that the building and adjacent mill would necessarily become a primary fundraising focus, with no concern for maintaining professional staff (I couldn't take the competition). The other reason was that my work on behalf of the effort to secure National Wild and Scenic status for the river was finished. The Eligibility and Classification Report, and River Management Plan were done and designation legislation was pending. Funding dried up. Debt was acquired and many days were spent on the water.

Ironically, MWA just received an astounding $4o0,000 grant from Warren County to fulfill the dream of establishing the Musconetcong River Resource Center. Add in the recent W&S designation and these are exciting times for MWA.

Work at the vineyard has wound down. I helped out in the wine tasting room last weekend because they faced hundreds of thirsty customers doing the Wine Trail. It's unclear whether or not I'll be pruning this winter since they are in the process of changing ownership. When it warms up there may be more time for canoeing, although work with the Sourland Planning Council and volunteering with the American Canoe Association's National Board as well as the Delaware Valley Division leaves little time for carving the water with a canoe paddle.

I'll be dropping Sharon off in Pittsburgh and heading to Canaan Valley WVA to celebrate my Aunt Ginny's 96th b-day and party with cousin Doug Parsons and his frau. The Poconos Mountains have more snow than Canaan, which is amazing because the later averages over 120 inches per year. It was the same situation last year right up until we visited Canaan over President's Day, when
it snowed heavily and non-stop the entire weekend.

For a live view of Canaan Valley go to the US Forest Service Air Quality Station, which gives a view of the valley from Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.

Wikipedia has this to say about Canaan Valley:
"Canaan Valley was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. The National Park Service citation indicates that the Valley is "a splendid 'museum' of Pleistocene habitats ... contain[ing] ... an aggregation of these habitats seldom found in the eastern United States. It is unique as a northern boreal relict community at this latitude by virtue of its size, elevation and diversity." Since 1994, about 60% of the Valley has become the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the nation's 500th. The local pronunciation of "Canaan" is Kuh-NANE', rather than the conventional KAY'-Nin for the Biblical region from which the area takes it's name."
That's right..Kuh-NANE. None of that biblical crap for us billhillies.