Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the Rise...

Creeks in the lower Delaware River watershed are rising out of their banks with more rain to come and that speaks to the fact that they had more snow on the ground than many areas upriver from the tidal zone.

The NWS has a FLOOD WARNING issued for the Brandywine, White Clay, S. B. Rancocas, and Cooper to name just a few. The lower Neshaminy at Langhorne was surging for flood stage but that suddenly began to drop so the snow melt might be finished and the rain is beginning to taper off. The Brandywine at Chadds Ford is already approaching flood stage.

The Delaware River at Riegelsville is just beginning to rise and running above normal but not by that much. However the Lehigh River is coming up quickly and that will push the Delaware up overnight but not to 20 feet (22 feet is beginning of flood stage). Piedmont tribs like the Wickecheoke, Locatong and Tohickon are rising rapidly as well and these will impact the river below Frenchtown.

It looks like the aforementioned creeks and rivers that are subject to the flood warning will have a rough night.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Speaking of Floods...

As mentioned a few weeks back, it seems like the watershed of the Delaware River is primed for spring flooding. That was before the big nor'easter that dumped between 6 inches and 2 feet of snow. Fortunately the heavier amounts were in the lower watershed.

A lot of moisture is locked up in the landscape and the equivalent of a few inches of rain sits on the land in the form of snow.

Recipe for a Winter Flood
Ingredients: Saturated soil; generous amount of snow cover; streams running at or above normal; wetlands, ponds and reservoirs filled (to taste). Vigorously stir in a rainstorm and allow to rise overnight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ice Man Commeth...

I've managed to get out on the water at least once per week so far this cold water paddling season. Pine Barrens and Delaware River tributaries. It looks like more sustained cold weather is headed to the region so every day on the river is precious. The cutoff point is around 38 deg but that's with sun and no wind, and on shallower not too difficult streams to reduce chance of sustained immersion.

It's a great time of year to be on a swift moving creek.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Myth busting...

The DRBC today released its report on the role that the reservoirs played in the recent three Delaware River floods. I haven't had time to digest it but the Delaware River Basin Commission's interagency study group concluded that the reservoirs played at best, a minor roll.

Their conclusion is not news to me. I've instinctively known this to be true and have spent years gathering data and anecdotal information to help understand the issue. What has been most distressing is having to watch the myth that the floods were largely man-made and caused by mismanagement of the three drinking water supply reservoirs located in upstate New York. The "reservoirs did it" myth took root like Japanese Knotweed and become a pervasive belief among residents of the river valley. The DRBC and others did not effectively respond to the myth makers' emotional-based narrative.

This is a timely topic because now that the ground is saturated, the coming winter freeze will lock in this background condition and create a higher flood threat for 2010. Flooding along the Delaware is an infinitely complex topic. It's simple and satisfying to believe that the floods will stop if only the powers that be manage the reservoirs.

That myth is more comforting than the terrifying truth that floods are random acts of nature.

The truth is that flooding is natural, desirable and beneficial for the river and its complex ecology. Above all, flooding is inevitable. Only a fool would live on a floodplain believing they can do so without consequence, if only the reservoirs were kept below 80% capacity. Unfortunately, there are many who believe this and they are no friends of the river.

There are at least 4 distinct types of floods, each with its own set of background conditions. And that's the beginning point for the book of Delaware River floods. I can't keep my eyes open so it will have to be written another day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Riverkeeper's Blog...

Maya Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper has a new blog that anyone interested in the river and its watershed will want to bookmark. It's a hardcore issue-oriented blog. You'll find the link on my list of river related sites.

One thing that stood out right away is she (or her IT?) managed to make the blog look like a website, a look that I would like to emulate. Please visit Maya's blog and sign-on as a fellow "River Lover"

A new independent film about gas drilling and hydrofracturing is being released! GASLAND is its title and it was done by a young filmmaker from the Upper Delaware Watershed who traveled across the country to investigate the issue in places like Colorado. Hydrofracuring is taking place in the Upper Delaware Watershed in PA and NY as well as the Upper Susquehanna Watershed in PA and many other locations within what is known as the Marcellus Shale Formation.

You can read about the issue in some of my earlier posts or visit the Riverkeeper blog. Another excellent source of information (and great layout) about gas drilling is Bluedaze.

Check out the Delaware Riverkeeper website for information about PA DEP hearings on gas drilling...coming up this week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indian Summer fadeout...

Cedar Creek near Double Trouble State Park, NJ Pine Barrens
Bridge Pier in Delaware River between Pt Pleasant & Byram

Here is a story about gas drilling in one of Pennsylvania's beautiful state forests. It's a sad story that is soon to be repeated over and over. The 18% tax the state will earn on the drilling operations will never replace the polluted creeks and contaminated aquifers.

It really looks as if the balmy weather will soon be over but that doesn't mean the paddling season is over, it never really ends. I'm still looking for some significant rain to get the small Piedmont and Highland streams up to a runnable level. Until then there are a number of Pineland rivers to visit.

Last Saturday I joined a group of mostly canoeists from the Mohawk Canoe Club (and Philly Canoe Club) for a trip down Cedar Creek. It lived up to its name with Atlantic Cedars lining the riparian woodlands all the way. Sadly, once we paddled past the Garden State Parkway it became the most trashed stream I've been on since a trip down Toms River a few years ago. Some of the people who live in this region are serious, dedicated slobs.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hot & Heavy Water...

Gas drilling in Marcellus Shale presents a number of threats to the environment and to the people who reside in the areas targeted for exploration and extraction. Groundwater pollution, spills, truck traffic, air pollution and explosions are all part of the mix.

Add radioactive wastewater to that list and you have the latest threat that has drilling proponents scrambling to downplay yet another serious threat and regulators wondering how to deal with a problem that may not have an economically viable solution.

Read about this latest development in ProPublica.

There is also an article about gas drilling on the Rodale website.

There's an outside chance that we'll receive significant rain from Hurricane Ida depending on how it moves after hitting the Florida Panhandle. That would be a good thing for paddlers waiting for the smaller creeks and rivers to come up before it gets too cold.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Land & Water Appropriations...

Congress passed the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2010. The bill provides a $4.7 billion increase over 2009 and a large chunk will fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as water infrastructure. Follow the above link to read the official summary. I haven't delved into the gory details yet but they can be found here.

I did learn from a separate source that the legislation included $750,000 to the USFWS for the purchase of new tracts of land to expand the recently designated Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which is located in Monroe County and near the Water Gap.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Indian Summer Light...

Wading River Headwaters

Looie and Grace on the Wading River below Speedwell

Upper Wading River

Grace with the smiling face on the Wading River

Chris on the Delaware River near Carpentersville

Two consecutive days on very different rivers = balm for the soul. Tuesday we paddled the 9-mile Easton to Riegelsville stretch of the Delaware River with a fellow who is a cultural anthropologist with an interest in the river and the people who live along its shores. It was his first look from the center of the river, and what a spectacular, cool fall day it was for a river trip.

Wednesday we headed to the NJ Pine Barrens for a trip on the Wading River between Speedwell and Godfrey Bridge. We put in at the uppermost part of the river and crashed through and slunk under the brush and blowdowns of this extremely beautiful little stream. At the launch site the road was peppered with cranberries that fell off trucks carrying a steady stream of the berries to the Ocean Spray plant. We were in the heart of cranberry country and harvesting was in progress.

This was about 5 full hours of steady paddling with one relatively brief lunch break (approximately 14 miles). The Wading River, particularly the uppermost reach is an incredibly twisting affair and it is mostly surrounded by hardwoods, pine and the beautiful Atlantic Cedar. It's all sand with intermittent gravel bars. The air was fragrant with fall foliage and pine needles, the water a dark tea color that defines the Pine Barren streams.

I look forward to paddling more Pine Barren rivers this coming fall and winter. Thanks to Looie, Grace and Chris for sharing such a fine day on one of the sweetest rivers on the planet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just ahead...Indian Summer

The Musconetcong River, despite days of intermittent rain, is lower right now than before the nor'easters began. It's running below average for this time of year according to the Bloomsbury gage.

The flow coming out of Lake Hopatcong is less than half the median daily flow over the past 53 years. The lake discharge is the main branch of the river.

According the Belvidere gage the Delaware River is running just above the average flow for this date. That's where we'll be this week.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Three days on the river...

Rejuvenated somewhat from a 3 night canoe camping trip along the Delaware River. Paddled one day with two buddies and solitude for the rest of the trip. Saw nary a bear but observed a few bald eagles and many mergansers.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Heading Upriver...

It's about time. Sleeping this evening in Worthington State Forest - black bear capital of NJ - and joining Delaware Riverkeeper staff for a Sunday day trip, followed by a 2-day solo canoe camp through the beautiful Walpack Bend section.

If you don't hear from me by Wednesday it means I'm well on the way to becoming bear scat (not sure about the turnaround time in a bear's digestive tract).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Frickin' Frac

The PA DEP is coming down on Cabot with an order to stop hydro fracturing operations in Susquehanna County, at least for now. Read the story in ProPublica.

Yesterday was the Delaware Valley Division of the American Canoe Association's Annual Picnic Paddle and Meeting. We reelected the existing slate of Directors and had a nice cookout at Tinicum County Park. The 7 mile run down the river took place in a warm mist but it was a lovely morning on the river and never actually rained.

We saw a solitary osprey right at the beginning of the trip near Stover Mill and also observed spotted sandpipers, great blues, wood duck, merganser and several cormorants. The highlight of the trip was my second unplanned swim within the past two weeks (and only my third so far this century) and that was really only remarkable because I took Sharon along with me. We were paddling an unsinkable battleship (Penobscot 17'), or so I thought. The partially submerged rock did the trick, paddling backwards (facing downstream) was another contributing factor. We needed a wake up and being one with the river did that for us. Once again the water was warm and there is no river east of the Mississippi that I'd rather fall into.

Next up - fall canoe camping somewhere upriver.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tidal River...

"Love" in the Reading Terminal Train Shed

Took the train into Philly for a meeting at the office of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to discuss an upcoming recreational user survey and the potential for expanding access on the tidal river.

PEC recently completed a Tidal Delaware River Water Trail Guide, which can be found on this website.

The tidal portion of the river presents serious challenges for paddlers, and the difficulties that one can encounter can be are made even worse in those sections that are surrounded by bulkheads and docks. There are a few opportunities for paddlers to explore the tidal Delaware River, but not so much around the city itself. Most people in Philly paddle on the non-tidal Schuylkill River above Fairmont Dam, where one can encounter every type of human powered boat between Boathouse Row and Manayunk. The tidal Delaware River has potential for increased use by non-powered boats, but its extremely limited due to lack of access.

The tidal Delaware is not the kind of environment that will ever support private livery services for novice paddlers. But it could be a paddling destination for urban paddlers who want to paddle locally or for experienced paddlers who could be enticed by a combination of paddling and cultural amenities.

A meeting in Philly invariably involves a gastronomic adventure or two and it this case the Society Hill Hotel Bar (Paulaner Octoberfest and cheese steak) and a trip to the best gelato place on the planet. Killer diet too, which perhaps explains why one sees so many people waddling about town.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cabot + Halliburton = Polluted Wells & Streams

All manner of PA officials including politicians and agency 'crats have been downplaying the impacts of gas drilling on watersheds (water quality and quantity). This is not surprising considering the economic boon realized by landowners, energy companies, and of course the state budget.

ProPublica covers this story about pollution problems caused by Cabot Oil and Gas in northern PA. Cabot is a drilling firm that uses (and it would seem abuses) a chemical compound manufactured by the notorious (drum roll...) HALLIBURTON. No lie. Natural gas drilling polluted nine private wells, a wetland area and Stevens Creek in the Susquehanna watershed according to the PA DEP.

According to Penn Future in a statement made September 11, a proposed PA budget deal that was recently announced included a "massive giveaway to huge, multi-national energy corporations that want full and immediate access to drill, baby, drill in our public forests and parks." This was was pushed heavily by PA Republicans with some bipartisan support ("drill baby drill" is a regularly used Republican Campaign slogan made popular by former Governor Palin).

The newly proposed acres would be in addition to the hundreds of thousands of acres already under lease, mostly for natural gas extraction. According to Penn Future the legislature also failed to adopt the severance tax on drilling operations, something many of us supported through our letters to state reps and senators.

Go to the Penn Future website to listen to a discussion by Jan Jarrett. It's an easy way to get a summary of this issue which is so critical for all people living within the Marcellus Shale formation in PA. It is a huge issue for the Susquehanna River and Upper Delaware River watersheds (including a portion of NY).

Gas drilling is a hot topic in Texas, Michigan and several other states, as I have found out through participation in a Google Group for folks who are dealing directly with gas drilling. And that means they are involved with their neighbors. Many of the communities involved in northern PA have revolved around the entire progression of historic resource extraction over hundreds of years; industries like timber and coal. The Marcellus Shale formation is a big chunk of Appalachia.

I know how welcome the revenues from gas drilling were for my late Uncle Cecil Parsons of Canaan Valley, WV. He and Aunt Ginny were farmers in a Zone 5 climate, and the gas dollars helped supplement income from beef, hay and of all things -- cauliflower (1960's). But to my knowledge the drilling operation was small and low impact. Indeed their farm now abuts the nation's 500th National Wildlife Refuge.

But as the links referenced above show, serious damage to the natural environment is occurring and it is widespread. Gas drillers are like utility companies as far as the techniques they use to conquer and divide the people who own the tracts of land that happen to be the places the geologists predict will yield gas. I have experienced 'divide and conquer' and have seen the damage done when things go wrong with certain pipeline and electric companies. They also have the political influence (AKA lots of dollars) to influence elected officials at all levels, but especially state senators and representatives.

A confluence of economic conditions and geopolitical events is causing a flood of drilling pressure in every direction. Each company brings its own proprietary blend of chemicals to split open the earth and each is capable of ruining streams and contaminating groundwater. Pennsylvania is set to open the flood gates even though its own environmental enforcement structure is inadequate to monitor drillers and enforce its regulations. That's left up to the drillers themselves and that can't stand. It will become the responsibility of the people who would potentially be harmed.

According to an industry source "Oil and Gas Investor" Cabot is increasing production in PA and they are just one of several operating within the commonwealth and adjacent areas in New York.

Local watershed associations are needed to put the focus on watershed systems rather than discreet drilling sites and site specific problems.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last days of summer on the river...

Above: #1 Setting off on the Birds of the Delaware trip with the Lumberville-Bulls Island Walking Bridge in background; #2 Checking out the confluence of the Locatong Creek, Delaware River and Delaware & Raritan Canal.

Today was the first "Birds of the Delaware River" trip and 20 paddlers enjoyed a spectacular day on the river, even if the bird sightings were somewhat limited (albeit seasonally normal, as was the water level).

When we met at 8 AM a thick fog laid over the river valley and the air temp was around 45 deg. By the time we made it around the first bend we were peeling off the layers of fleece and wool. On the last weekend day of summer it felt positively like autumn, a great time of year for paddlers who like cooler weather and fewer people on the river.

We had a mix of members from the Bucks County Audubon Society and American Canoe Association, cosponsoring organizations (and some who were "none of the above"). There was a nice mix of canoes & kayaks (solo and tandem), with a decidedly larger number of canoes and that definitely is not the trend. Especially with several of the group having relatively limited experience. This was a first ever river trip for at least one of our group and I was glad to have chosen one of the easier paddling stretches of the river.

The primary sightings included several double-crested cormorants, 3 great blue heron, kingfisher, 4 common merganser (female), a small flock of ring billed gulls ( we think), and we heard many year round resident songbirds like the Carolina wren, nuthatch and several others. The cliff swallows that nest under the bridges have already headed south as apparently have the spotted sandpipers. This stretch of the river doesn't normally offer a look at the bald eagle or osprey. That is a sure thing above the Water Gap. There will be another Birds of the Delaware River trip sometime in May 2010.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Surfing the shelf just below Riegelsville.

Yesterday's canoe trip was remarkable for the transformational nature of my 'Baptism' in the Delaware River - PRAISE BE!

Chris M and I set off for a long trip between Riegelsville and Frenchtown with the primary objective to scout for trash in advance of the upcoming river cleanup. Little did we know, I would be called by the River Gods to a sudden and ultimately lengthy swim in the clean and surprisingly warm water.

This occurred just after our break at the Indian Rock. More specifically I was dunked at the last and largest of the rock ledges at the top of Upper Black's Eddy. While surfing this ledge I found a nice groove side-surfing back and forth in front of it. Then I found myself on top of the ledge and in front of a hole. The River God whispered something and moving closer to hear the message I noticed a gorgeous Mermaid lying on the bottom, smiling up at me. What else could I do but fall for this adventure?

It was a surreal experience in that I could see that I was about to be swallowed up by the hole but rather than taking evasive action (employing a strong brace for example) I passively allowed it to unfold. I succumbed, swooned, and sank in the frothy current.

An impromptu and unexpected swim is usually a rude surprise. This one was strange in that I did all that I could to allow it, short of simply plunging head first out of the boat, which in reality is what occurred.

Once the Baptism began it was all about self rescue, with the assistance of my paddling partner. It was a long swim through easy rapids as I was dragged downriver by the partially submerged canoe (one of my floatation bags was deflated too). My first thought was to save Sharon's camera or face a cruel punishment. That was easy enough since the expensive piece of equipment was tied in and contained in a dry box. Then I spied my $20 coffee mug floating downriver - help! Chris snagged it, Praise Be.

It seemed like I floated in the strong current for at least a half mile, although it was in reality probably half that distance. The river was clean (hopefully since I gulped a bunch) warm and challenged me to scissor kick from the center of the river all the way over to the PA shore. It was a lumpy swim as the riverbed was studded with large, submerged boulders, which I banged into every so often. Part of this swim featured shallow water of 3 to 4 feet but very strong current. The temptation to user the river bottom to advance towards the shore was great, but that was nearly impossible and brought my feet and legs in contact with the big rocks. Much of the time was spent on my back, feet up, in deep and swift moving current that allowed a side-swim to shore.

Good news: the camera dry box works, the coffee mug doesn't leak, and my cell phone really is water proof (it was in my pants pocket).

That was my first Baptism since a rocky swim in the Tohickon Creek on a cloudy, raw January day a few years back. Other notable Baptisms have taken place in the Musconetcong, Lehigh and Perkiomen.

This one was not so bad although it marked the end of what was an exhilarating surfing session. As it turned out, we observed a surprisingly small amount of trash along the way. Unfortunately that means the considerable amount of litter we observed back in June was carried downriver by the high water events of summer.

As to the transformational nature of the 'Baptism' it is good to be humbled by the river and submit to its power, especially in warm weather.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feds step up after 8 years of Bush league EPA

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

This NYT article
discusses the disturbing reality of the failures of our regulatory agencies over the past several years. The above question is not answered, but how long will it take to reverse 8 years of the Bushman policies?

It will take a very long time.

At least the EPA is promising to ratchet up regulations to control sources of pollution coming into the Chesapeake Bay with the emphasis on non-point sources. Read about it in this Baltimore Sun article. Expect intense pushback by the Farm Bureau and Builders Associations.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Full Moon on the River...

Heading down the Delaware River on the full moon paddle.

Joined a small group of canoeists and kayakers for a Thursday evening full moon trip between the Kingwood access and Bulls Island State Park. We put in as the sun was going down and by the time we took out the moon was well up in the sky casting its magical light over the river.

One remarkable aspect of the moonlight paddling experience was the enhanced olfactory experience, which I assume was due to the limited ability to see anything until the moon rose over the mountain. There was the faint breeze carrying lovely herbal scents up the river and of course the earthy bouquet of the river was part of the mix. We also heard some freaky night sounds that I had difficulty identifying. One sounded perhaps like a wading bird, the other likely a fox.

The moonlight trip was a special treat, an amazing experience really. We saw but one other boater out there and that was right at the end of the trip. Two guys in a motor boat were wrapping up their fishing trip as we took our canoes out at around 10 PM.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twenty-five miles...

Upper Delaware River below Shohola Rapids

The last weekend of August was spent on the Upper Delaware River with a Mohawk Canoe Club trip. It's been years since I've paddled the 'Upper' on a summer weekend and now I remember why -- too many people.

Saturday and Sunday couldn't have been more different, weather and crowd wise. Saturday forecast was terrible (a good thing), and although there was no measurable amount of rain we had the river pretty much all to ourselves. The 9.5 mile run between Ten Mile River access and Lackawaxen was sweet as usual, and pretty easy with the flow being about a foot higher than normal. In fact the Coolang and Masthope rapids were mostly washed out (rocks covered up). The highlight of the day was at the very end when we watched a Bald Eagle and an Osprey warily circle each other at the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers. The Osprey made three consecutive dives for a fish and came up empty-clawed making me think it was a young inexperienced bird.

Sunday the river was slightly higher washing out both the Shohola Rapids and Staircase Rapids. The canoe and raft liveries were fairly busy so we were treated to quite a show of people out to enjoy the whitewater, although there are some long pools in this section of the river as well. Conspicuously absent were National Park Service rangers (saw one on the shore) and no National Canoe Safety Patrol members on the sixteen mile run we did between Barryville and Sparrowbush. We waved to a few of those guys in the morning as they drove up Hwy. 97 and they probably decided to hang at Skinners Falls, which was probably a busy place for involuntary swimmers and floatable items.

Also conspicuous was the amount of trash and feces along the river at the popular lunch and public camping spots. Sparrowbush Access was atrocious with garbage strewn about and in piles all over the place. Shame on the New York DEC for failing to enforce the law and for allowing this place to become such a dump. The city people who come here (as in NYC) don't all act like slovenly humans (don't want to insult any other members of the animal kingdom), but enough of them are sleazy enough to make it a miserable sight to behold. Sadly, Sparrowbush overlooks one of the most beautiful and interesting natural features along the entire river - Elephant Rocks, which loom over the water in the PA side.

The other significant feature of the day was the number of motorcycles and other traffic on Rt. 97. At times the river experience was utterly destroyed by the noise. Still, there were other stretches of the river where the scenery was stunningly beautiful and peaceful as could be, particularly just below Barryville (Shohola Rapids), Mongaup and Butler Rift.

This trip was also a reminder to get back to the Upper Delaware River more often, just not on a warm sunny weekend. It's not that I don't enjoy seeing people out on the river, I do...from a distance. I enjoy the river in a different way than most casual visitors. Kind of like a Buddist in a temple, a Mormon in Church, or a shopper at Cabella's mega-store. One with the river. Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

PS: Project River Bright is coming up October 10. The August 18 post incorrectly stated the annual river cleanup would be October 3, which is now the rescheduled date of Noel Rickerts' Wing Ding, which will be sort of a guided tour for those who want to know about the Lambertville-New Hope Wing Dam, one of the best Class II sections of the Delaware River. See the Delaware Valley Division - American Canoe Association website for more details.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh Danny...

If Danny becomes Danny we could have a soaker this weekend. Scenarios range from a hurricane hitting Long Island (or even New Jersey coast) to an easterly track that would just leave us with showers if anything. We should know by tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

River Potatoes...

River Potatoes line up to pay dearly for a hot dog and a drink at the Hot Dog Man's island stand near Devil's Tea Table.

River potatoes (AKA tubers to most folks) are the most common recreational users of the Lower Delaware River during the summer. Like a 'couch potato' in front of the TV, river potatoes truly are "one with the river." Basically you soak your butt in the water and paddle with your hands, spinning like a top down the river.

We set off in our canoes on a hot Monday afternoon from the Kingwood access to Bulls Island State Park, through what could be called the "potato patch."

Tubing is not the best way to get down the river for anyone afraid of fish, snakes, snapping turtles, dragonflies or eels. Of course most people don't have a clue, or at least are in denial that such critters exist in the river. That is until I happen by and yell out: 'Look at the size of that water snake!"

Tubing is a time honored activity that was not too long ago limited to those who found their own truck tire innertubes. Some places along the river still sell them (Muellers Store).

It's become big business and on any given summer day when the river is not running too high, the river between Frenchtown and Point Pleasant is filled with river potatoes bobbing like so many brightly colored Lifesavers. Between the two primary livery services there can be thousands of tubers on a hot weekend day.

The masters of the river potato patch are a story unto themselves. The Hot Dog Man and the self-proclaimed King of the River (Bucks County River Country) keep busloads of tubers on the river. They also are former business partners who have been engaged in a low grade war that's has been mostly fought in the local press.

Much could be said about the potential impacts that these businesses have on the river in terms of trash, litter and fecal contamination. That will have to await further research. For sure this topic is not on the radar screen of any environmental agency or river advocacy group, but it should be. Meanwhile, thousands of people get their first look at the river as a river potato and that alone is a good thing. No doubt some river potatoes evolve and buy their own innertube or move up to a kayak.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rainy Day Trip...

We set off from Riegelsville in a steady rain and took out at Frenchtown in a steady rain. There was a break in the precipitation for at least 3 miles. Still, it was good to be on the water again, even though the river was muddy and contained many pieces of floating garbage (styofoam, plastic bottles etc.).

If the river gets back to normal by October 3 we'll have lots of litter to pick up on upcoming Project Riverbright..

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Long Time Coming: A river trip in the works

Excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service is in effect. Hey - we're due for a blast furnace day.

The river is still running quite a bit higher than normal, actually a few feet and several thousand cfs higher. I don't see this changing much between now and October. If the Delaware stays up I might decide to take on even more miles for a planned 7-day trip. More later.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Water levels up and down...

An intrepid group followed me down the Musconetcong River in July. The river was excruciatingly low and scratchy, but beautiful just the same.

The heavy rain sent all tributaries up and the Delaware is higher than normal and will stay that way for at least the next week. Beats a drought any day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Muggy Flood Watch...

Back from the highest mountains of WVA where the temps never passed 75 deg. into the soupy summery late July weather.

We're looking at a Flash Flood Watch from the National Weather Service and it would take some majorly heavy rain to get us there since most waterways are approaching seasonal flows. If the forecast turns out to be true we could have some great paddling conditions this weekend on the smaller tributaries to the Delaware River.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Learning Opportunities for Paddlers...

Check out the Delaware Valley Division of the American Canoe Association website to learn about upcoming courses - Swiftwater Rescue, Canoeing and Kayaking and the special program "Birds of the Delaware River"!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Down the River in a Canoe...

Follow the link to this amusing story about three guys who paddle the length of the river between Hancock NY and Philadelphia - late 19th century. It says a lot about how people can view the same thing so differently.

Case in point: Foul Rift. It's a notorious set of rock-studded rapids just below Belvidere, NJ that scares the bejesus out of the locals. For a paddler of average skill and experience it is no big deal. In fact it's a delightful run straight down the PA side of the river.

Seven years ago a fellow canoe instructor worked with me to train about eight girl scouts between the ages of 14 and 17 (plus two adult leaders). We taught them tandem canoeing in heavy tubs (Old Town Discovery 169's) and on the 5th day we took them through Foul Rift. They handled it with no problem until the end when the two very best paddlers of the group flipped on the big rock at the bottom of the rapid. But they were trying to do an eddy turn in front of that boulder in strong current - a tricky maneuver for such young paddlers.

The fear of Foul Rift is like any other fear - born of ignorance and in the case of novice boaters - ineptitude. Although...sometimes a dose of the heebie-jeebees can go a long way in keeping even the experienced paddler alert and ready for action. That's the difference between fear of the river and respect for its power.

Thanks to Tracy for turning me on to "Down The River In A Canoe."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

No Paine no gain...

Happy July 4th...paddling adventures on hold except for a July 18 Musconetcong trip I am leading for Heritage Conservancy.

I found this article about Thomas Paine to be excellent, brings his ideas into the present.

The Age of Paine

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fight for Clean Water Act

The never ending struggle to ensure that the Federal Clean Water Act is implemented and enforced took another hit, this time from the Supremes, who upheld the Bush-Cheney rule allowing industries to dump toxic waste into the water. They left us with a legacy of degradation, deterioration and destruction. Read about it here. And here.

Obama has an opportunity to reverse the Bush-Cheney rules.

Friday, June 19, 2009

National Paddlesports Conference...

Anyone who is serious about canoeing, kayaking and rafting will want to consider registering for and participating in the National Paddlesports Conference to be held October 23-25 in Fredericksburg, VA.

There will be many instruction opportunities and some fun paddling on the pretty Rappahanock River. F-burg is a really attractive small college town. Getting there from here (Philly-NY) by car require an unpleasant trip down I-95, but with careful timing and some luck it's not too bad. It can also be reached via Amtrak, which would preclude taking the Howler or whatever boat you are paddling.

See the above link for more info and/or go to the American Canoe Association website to register.

The Delaware River at Riegelsville Gage shows the river flatlining just under 11' and it might come a little bit more pending the outcome of the next round of storms tomorrow. The Musconetcong and many other small streams are running strong and good paddling levels.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rising rivers...

Obama inherited a huge budget deficit from Bush and our region inherited a big precipitation deficit from last year. Looks like the later may finally be erased by the end of this week. Finally, great canoeing conditions on the creeks and little rivers.

The NWS hasn't posted any flood watches yet, but that could change later today for small streams. The Delaware River at the Riegelsville Gage shows it is surging to 7 feet, but won't get close to the 22' flood stage. The Lehigh at Bethlehem is also rising quickly and that is the primary influence for the Delaware River below Easton. For towns like Riegelsville, Stockton, New Hope and Yardley it's all about the Lehigh. Forget about the NYC reservoirs. They could be at 50% capacity and major flooding could occur. Why? Because the Lehigh River watershed is as large as all three major reservoirs combined.

The NJ tribs are also running higher than normal, which is the reverse of the prior several minths. The Musconetcong is heading towards 2' at the Bloomsbury Gage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Senseless tragedy...

Hey, the creek is way up. Let's go kayaking!

Two brothers drowned in the hydraulic 'washing machine' effect of a low head dam on the rain-swollen Brandywine Creek. This dam reportedly has a four foot drop. They were said to be wearing life jackets, and ignored warnings from county park employees not to proceed down the creek to the dam. Even a properly worn and snug life jacket is no guarantee of survival for someone unfortunate to end up in the mash of a low head dam. Been there - done that. In February, sans life jacket, and still managed to survive.

This story is another reminder that much more needs to be done to capture the attention of aspiring paddlers as they enter the sport, right at the point of purchase. That's the first opportunity to open minds to the rich and diverse culture of paddlesports.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

River Bright rescheduled

Three Merganser hens hang out with the turtles.

Project River Bright has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 10 and will cover the stretch of water downstream from the Riegelsville NJ river access. Book it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

River Bright is canceled...

It's a tough call...the gage at Riegelsville hasn't moved much today, but the Lehigh River and Musconetcong River will rise some more, and the smaller tribs below R-ville are definitely high.

After consulting with a few folks I have decided to cancel the river cleanup for tomorrow. We will reschedule, but probably not until the fall. Stay tuned.

I thank all the volunteers for your patience and willingness to help out. A special thanks goes out to those who helped with planning and logistics. At least we'll 'live to fight another day.'

Moron Gas drillling...

OK...make that more on gas drilling. Here's a report from ProPublica on the congressional hearings today, where industry reps defended pumping toxic chemicals into the ground, without any scrutiny and sanctioned by a loophole in the Federal Clean Water Act.

I will be posting an update on stream conditions in approximately 4 hours.

Rain Reigns...

A month ago the possibility of drought conditions was real enough. Since then things have turned around somewhat, although judging by the base flow of some streams there is still much percolation needed.

Today the Lehigh River at Bethlehem has just started to show a steep rise and that will filter down to the Delaware River at Riegelsville later today; and that gage shows the river is still falling slightly.

The river cleanup planned for tomorrow may or may not be canceled, but if it keeps raining all day, it will most likely be a washout. So far the rain has been steady but not particularly heavy here in the New Hope area where I work. The problem is that the river may not reach an unsafe level for the cleanup until late tonight...and that is too late to make a decision considering the distance some folks need to travel to get to Riegelsville.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fracting for gas...


Drilling of natural gas has become a huge issue in the Marcellus Shale beds, especially so in portions of the upper Delaware River Basin in PA and NY.

Oil and gas companies from around the country are flocking to Pennsylvania to tap into the Marcellus Shale to extract natural gas. The Department of Environmental Protection issued a record 7,792 gas drilling permits in 2008.

In 39 other states where natural gas extraction occurs regularly, developers pay a small tax on the natural gas extracted. A similar tax has been proposed for Pennsylvania that could generate more than $100 million for Pennsylvania next year, and over $600 million by 2013.

The PA legislature has an opportunity to offset the impacts of natural gas drilling by reinvesting drilling revenues into our natural resources. Implementing a severance tax, with a portion of the funds going to the environmental stewardship fund and the PA Fish & Boat Commission and the PA Game Commissions, will hold those directly profiting from drilling responsible for paying the actual costs of drilling. These revenues could be used for watershed protection, habitat conservation and ecological restoration, public access to outdoor recreation, and open space preservation.

ProPublica has an excellent piece on this issue as its being played out in congress. Dick Cheney (anyone surprised?) played a prominent role in making sure gas drilling and mountaintop mining are not subject to the federal Clean Water Act.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zebras in the Susquehanna...

The discovery of zebra mussels in the Susquehanna could portend really big problems for native aquatic life and for infrastructure such as water treatment plants and hydro-electric dams. Yes...that's a giraffe. No zebras in the Crosswicks Creek...yet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Back to Normal...

Female Black Bear (with cubs...not shown) observed
while camping at Worthington State Forest.
May 12, 2009

The Delaware River at Belvidere is back down to just above normal flow for this date (just under 6'). The Musconetong is back to a pitiful 157 CFS at Bloomsbury - well below normal flow. That is due in part to the holding back of water at Lake Hopatcong. They're only releasing 6.4 CFS when the average is above 30 CFS. Big difference there. The river is not at a good level for paddling.

Tributaries on the PA side are mostly at normal levels.

Some of the 90 students from the UN International School
enjoying the Eighteenth Annual Canoe Trip.
May 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Delaware River Rises...

The river rose about four feet from the heavy rain, most of which fell on the Upper Delaware River watersheds. The swift rise was recorded for the entire length of the non-tidal Delaware.

Most of the tributaries below the Water Gap only experienced a modest rise. It was an upper basin event, which is so often the case this time of year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Clean Water Alert

Contact your US Senators to encourage support for The Clean Water Restoration Act. Take your cue from the message I received from Paul Sanford of the American Canoe Association....he describes efforts of the Outdoor Coalition to undo damage done by the Bush Administration and the Supremes (no...not Diana Ross). This takes a recreational-based self interest approach...there are many other public health and ecological health issues at stake.

The ACA is partnering with American Whitewater to urge Congress to pass S. 787, the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA). Passage of this legislation is critically important to protecting the waters that paddlers enjoy. CWRA would undo the damage done by recent Supreme Court decisions narrowly intepreting the scope of the Clean Water Act. These decisions put many intermittent headwater streams and wetlands outside the protection of the Act. In doing so, they threaten to open up important paddling destinations to unregulated discharges, and also put downstream water quality in jeopardy, which will make paddling a less enjoyable, and more dangerous, experience.

The Clean Water Restoration Act would reaffirm the original intent of Congress that the Clean Water Act provides robust protection to the waters of our nation, and strong safeguards for all Americans. At the same time, it preserves important exemptions that were part of the original Act. See the attached Fact Sheet for more info about CWRA.

The first step in passing CWRA is getting it approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Committee may consider the legislation during the week of May 18, so we need to act fast.

One of your state’s Senators, Senator Arlen Specter, is on this Committee, and his vote will be critical to getting committee approval for the bill. Our sources believe there’s a good chance he will support CWRA if he hears from paddlers and paddling organizations in his home state. Please help us with this effort! ACA and and AW are charter members of the Outdoor Alliance (OA), a coalition of six human-powered recreation organizations. All six member organizations in OA -- even the land-based groups -- support CWRA because they know passage of this bill will be good for recreation of all kinds. We are using the resources of the Alliance to help our members communicate with their elected officials in Washington.

The link below will take you to the CWRA page on the OA website. Follow this link to learn more about CWRA, then click on the Take Action button at the bottom of the page to send a message to Senator Specter urging him to support this bill. Nobody knows the importance of clean water better than paddlers. Make sure Senator Specter knows that paddlers in Pennsylvania support the Clean Water Restoration Act.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Twenty-five miles...

About 30 paddlers turned out for the annual DVD-ACA Upper Delaware Camp & Paddle weekend. About 7 of those paddlers were new faces, people who found out about ACA at the New Jersey Paddler Expo for example. They're all new ACA members now.

We did two long days: Callicoon to Narrowsburg and Narrowsburg to Lackawaxen. Everyone got to see bald eagles including two nesting pairs. Lesser yellowlegs, spotted sandpipers and green herons were also seen along the way. Paddling conditions were OK because even though the river was running at low levels more typical of August, we had no significant headwinds and were helped along on day one by a good tailwind. Having zero headwind in May is unusual.

We enjoyed a long happy hour and potluck dinner with a fine campfire.

For upcoming DVD-ACA events check the new website.

Everywhere I go it seems like people complain about the "dreary" rainy weather. It's been dreary alright, but in my area only about 1.31 inches has fallen since last Wednesday. That's not a lot of rain.

The gages bear it out if you consider the shaly streams like the Tohickon, Wickecheoke and Locatong are running above the median daily flow and the limestone valley streams are still down below the normal flow for this time of year. The Delaware has come up just a bit and is also still at summer levels. It's still better than a continuation of drought like conditions. How long will the wet trend last?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Annual River Events...

As the waters continue to recede looking forward to two annual trips on the Delaware River.

This weekend the American Canoe Association - Delaware Valley Division (see links list) is holding the Upper Delaware Camp & Paddle including a smashing potluck dinner and two days on the river between Callicoon NY and Lackawaxen PA. This is often a challenging time of year due to the strong headwinds coming out of the southwest.

Then it's the 18th (or 19th?) UN School trip with a hundred or so teens. Three days on the river and two nights camping. Fun fun fun.

Meanwhile the Musconetcong River is running about half the normal flow according to the Bloomsbury gage. Ditto for the Delaware River.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More of the same...

Ditto on my previous post. We received about 1.50 inches of rain in the lower Delaware Basin, but we're still 3.50 inches + below normal for the year so far. The vegetation is looking great but most streams are still at or slightly below normal flow.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A long soaking rain was what the landscape needed but a lot more will have to fall to bring the aquifers back up.

Almost every creek and river in the entire Delaware River Basin continues to run below normal including the Delaware River itself. Check the Musconetcong gage at Bloomsbury and the Delaware River gage at Belvidere. The river is running about 5000 CFS lower for this time of year.

The Tohickon Creek is a rare exception as it's running just higher than normal for this date.

This being April we can reasonably expect more rain to fall in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Return to Below Normal...

It was a nice soaker and put a big dent in the water deficit that's been steadily building, but the recent day-long storm left us with at least a 4.00" deficit. That's reflected in the response from creeks and rivers around the Delaware River Basin; most up to be sure, but they fell right back down to below the seasonal median flow.

The Musconetcong River was back up close to normal flow (300 CFS) on Saturday but has since fallen back below 200 CFS. I attended the Musconetcong Watershed Association's open haus for the new River Resource Center on Saturday and reconnected with several comrades from the part of my career known as the Musky Era (1997-2004 RIP). That was seven years of 'all things Musconetcong' 24/7. The RRC is stunning, check it out. (the link goes to their website - it hasn't been updated yet)

The Delaware River came up a little but it is still a bit below the norm for this time of year. The storm did wonders for the flora and it perked up the small streams and vernal pools, but we still have a thirsty bunch of aquifers.

The Delaware Valley Division - American Canoe Association's annual Upper Delaware River Camp & Paddle is coming up first weekend in May. It takes place at Landers Campground in Narrowsburg NY. Free for ACA members - $40 for non-members but that gets you an ACA membership. It's a great campground situated in the prettiest town on the New York side of the upper river valley. My favorite part of the the weekend (besides paddling through Skinners falls and Coolang Rapids) is the potluck dinner under the pavilion.

If you don't like camping there are reasonable places to stay near the campground in Narrowsburg or downriver in Lackawaxen, PA.

Go to the DVD-ACA website for details and registration info.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Intense storm...

Looks like even more rain for our region with an approaching storm from the midwest. The prediction is for 1-2" in the lower Delaware River Basin.

The National Weather Service issued a Flood warning for small streams. Some creeks like the Tohickon Creek are running a little higher than normal, others have fallen back to seasonally normal levels.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Lovely rain...

We received enough rain throughout the region to give the vegetation a deep drink, bring the creeks up a little and put a tiny dent in the large precipitation deficit.

The Musconetcong River at the Bloomsbury gage is now running at the minimum needed to paddle (just over 2.00 ft.). The rain didn't have as much of an impact on this river due to the porous limestone watershed. However, much of what fell on the ground infiltrated into the aquifer and the Musky will stay up longer as a result.

On the other hand, the runoff prone Triassic shale watersheds like the Wickecheoke Creek and Tohickon Creek rose quite a bit more and of course they will fall just as fast because the relatively impermeable soils and rock do not allow precip to infiltrate as easily as the upland limestone watersheds or the sandy coastal soils do. These two beautiful creeks enter the Delaware River just a few miles part, with the Wickey flowing on the NJ side and the Toh on the PA side.

The Delaware River at Riegelsville came up about two feet over the past few days but that is still a little below the median flow for this time of year.

Alternate rainy and sunny days are just what is needed for a glorious spring and drought free summer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trickle of rain...

The region has seen one of the driest first three months of the year in 137 years of record keeping. It can turn around with a surge of precipitation in April and May, but if we do continue down this path the cry to keep reservoirs lower will be justifiably seen for what it is: a threat to the vast majority who choose not to live in the Delaware River floodplain and a threat to the river itself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Braking' news...

EPA holds up hundreds of Mountaintop Mining Permits.

It's been about three months since Bush was sent home; not bad.

Here's another take on the Obama administration's actions by the Chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

And these 88 new additions to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System as part of an Omnibus Bill passed by Congress.

Busy week protecting land and water.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Toh Trip...

Photos by Steve Miller

Joined an ad hoc group of 11 solo paddlers for the spring Tohickon Creek release and there were only three kayakers in the mix, which is an unusual ratio these days. It was a classic March day and the river was running just over 3.00 ft' or about twice the pre-release flow.

We didn't encounter any major strainers on the upper section and we only encountered a few other paddlers since the vast majority of the hundreds who paddled the Toh were there for the Class III section between Stover State Park and the Delaware River. We put in just below the Lake Nockamixon dam. This is a really pretty and fairly easy paddling section of the creek through classic Bucks County countryside.

Check out the Tohickon at Pipersville gage to observe the uber-undulating flow curve during the weekend release.

I didn't begin my drought buzz in this blog any too early (been buzzin' boudit' for a month now) as we're well on the way if we experience the below normal precipitation that has been predicted for our region over the next three months. NJ Fish & Wildlife is doing a record number of acres of controlled burning in the Pine Barrens and brush fire alerts are in effect for parts of Southeastern PA.

The DRBC Hydrologic Conditions Report says we're 2.00" below normal precip for the year in the Upper Delaware and 2.73" below normal between the Water Gap and and Trenton. That follows below normal precip for most of the previous fall and summer.

Of course it's also possible I'll be grilling crow for dinner if the Delaware River floods next month. But it's sure not trending that way. Indeed, so far this century we have had at least two mini-droughts that were ultimately broken by major flood events.

None of this bodes well for any of us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Drought USA...

A great resource for drought information (next to DRBC) is this relatively new website. Delaware River tributary streams continue to be running well below normal for this time of year.

Tomorrow I'll be joining some folks for an early spring run down the Upper Tohickon Creek, thanks to the annual spring whitewater release from Lake Nockamixon. This is a Class I + beautiful Piedmont creek with scenery that alternates between Red Shale cliffs (with ferns and columbine) and pastoral landscapes complete with cows, sheep, and white-tail deer. There are also some wonderful historic structures along the way. The Tohickon features all the best cultural and natural qualities found in Bucks County, PA.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How low can they go?

The last post mentioned how quickly the Delaware River rose last week, and it's still running near normal for this time of year.

Meanwhile most of the tributaries are barely running half the normal flow, which is not a good thing for paddlers and is not a good sign for people who depend on groundwater. Even the Lehigh River is running at late summer flow.

While we could end up having the wettest summer on record, a dry spring is frequently a harbinger of a drought. Time will tell.

Regardless, the Tohickon Creek will be running strong next weekend with hundreds of paddlers converging on Ralph Stover State Park for some of the best whitewater our region has to offer, thanks to the release from Lake Nockamixon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Delaware River rises...

A spring freshet? The river shot up between six and seven feet depending on the gage in little over one day. A rain storm and break-up of ice with some snow melt put it up and it's coming back down again, gradually.

The water just has that late winter thaw look to it.

Meanwhile the smaller creeks and rivers below the Water Gap are low for this time of year. The Musconetcong River is only 180 CFS and the Tohickon Creek is around 123 CFS. The later will be ripping at around 300 CFS with the whitewater release scheduled for March 21 & 22.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome to DVD...

No, not that kind of DVD.

DVD as in Delaware Valley Division of the American Canoe Association. Check out the new website.

It's a Joomla CMS based website that allows for relatively simple management by any number of people. Thanks to the DVD-ACA Website Committee: Bruce Wyman (main workhorse), Chris Meyers, and John Rako.

Friday, February 20, 2009

COAL ASH: the Hidden Story...

The Center for Public Integrity has just published an in depth article about "How Industry and the EPA Failed to Stop a Growing Environmental Disaster."

The Delaware River has its very own coal ash storage pit located at the PP&L Martins Creek Power Generating Station. It spilled a million gallons into the river a few years back. I've posted this as a follow-up to my December 2008 post about the massive spill into the Clinch River in Tennessee.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

River Dreaming...

Wading River lunch break

The few opportunities for mild weather canoeing seem to always collide with other more pressing work responsibilities; and so it goes. I do get to look at the river every day, either a short walk here in Yardley or auto trips up river road to Lambertville and points north. It's beautiful from any vantage point, but being in the center of the river is best. The scent of a river is intoxicating, especially a clean sweet river like the Delaware.

Most streams are running at or slightly above normal for this time of year. The favorite upland winter paddling streams are too low to enjoy. Musconetcong River is at 1.75 ft. and the Tohickon Creek is around 2.00. There is a March 21-22 Tohickon whitewater release and that is a great event to look forward to.

Last weekend we traveled to Fredericksburg, VA for the American Canoe Association Board of Directors meeting(s), crossing the Delaware, Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers on the way to the Rappahannock. This is my second term and probably my last. This BOD has truly improved over the past four years, many more members on board who have some nonprofit experience, financial savvy - AND - several are certified Instructors and Instructor Trainers in many disiplines (alas, my canoe instructor cert. lapsed years ago).

My very first meeting did not leave a favorable impression as there was much squabbling about conflict-of-interest, a serious issue for sure but the personal nature of the discussion was counterproductive, to put it kindly. That atmosphere is entirely gone now and almost all of the members are talented, congenial and committed to the ACA's mission.

I spoke with the Coast Guard rep at the last meeting and he's been involved with ACA for several years (they have received enormous grants from the USCG) and he commmented on the improvements in the BOD and the grant work being accomplished by the staff, which has also improved in quality - hugely. Truly a great group.

There is a short-term goal of building a National Canoe-Kayak Paddlesport Center along the Rappahannock River just upstream from the town. This is a seriously ambitious project and the BOD needs further transformation in the form of more directors who have the connections and/or desire to help raise money. That's what Boards of Directors (and Trustees) normally do. ACA needs a Director of Development on its staff as well. It needs a Fundraising Committee and a special events committee. It needs economic stimulus funds from the local US Senator who lives along the Rappahhanock. It's a tall order right now, but the pantry won't be bare forever.

Speaking of the Rappahannock...this beautiful river is protected by a great watershed group. They're right up there with the likes of the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association and Delaware Riverkeeper.

The ACA BOD meets quarterly and the meetings run Friday (Safety Education Instruction Committee) and Saturday, with a half day Sunday. It's the most rigorous nonprofit Board regimen I've ever witnessed. It's an intense organization that has an amazing and far reaching number of programs and services, mostly in North America, but increasing numbers in other continents. If I go off the Board after this year, getting someone from our region elected to the BOD would be a priority. I'm open to suggestions.

The Delaware Valley Division of the ACA has also been gaining traction and we're close to going online with a new website featuring ACA Instructors and events in our Division and all kinds of useful links and tools for paddlers. More on that next week.

I enjoyed some interesting conversations this week about flood and drought cycles on the Delaware and that is worthy of another blogpost or two and I better get to it soon because a change is coming...

...on the horizon, career-wise...if all works out as desired. This would put me closer to my canoes...which are hiding in Wally's barn, but it could be the kind of change that would allow for even fewer days on the river. More on that next week too.

Finally....THE KID blogs again after several months hiatus.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wading River...

Chris Meyers heads downstream on the Wading River
Wading River (courtesy of Leona Fluck)

Until yesterday the Wading River was one of several Pine Barren rivers on the "to do" list. A 50 deg. January 23rd was my first '09 river trip and it was led by George and Leona Fluck and sponsored by NJ Sierra Club. I hitched a ride down with Chris Meyers and we joined two kayakers for the 6-mile run down a truly pristine river - classic Pine Barren habitat in the Wharton State Forest.

The ice formations along the edge of the river were exquisite and we enjoyed a truly relaxing and mellow trip. Mostly Atlantic White Cedar forest surrounded the winding river with white sand beaches and tannic tea colored water.

Great winter river.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change is gonna come...

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As I sit here looking out on the snow covered sycamores just a few hours post-liberation from the dark days of Bush and the dawn of Obama -- it seems certain that these unprecedented circumstances will bring profound changes at every level.

The 44th Inaugural was awesome!

This was not just about the joy and hope of long last having intelligent people leading the country again - there was a huge outpouring and sigh of relief from the evil, pain, and greed inflicted on our nation and the world by Bush/Cheney over eight long years.

They have left behind such a legacy of decay and bad karma that it will take more than a generation to recover. How do we transform an instant gratification consumer culture populated by lazy over-fed oil-addicted people into a nation of hard work, sacrifice, integrity, and common purpose?

It won't be easy and it will require doing things differently; some of those things would be familiar to our grandparent's generation.

Change will be forced upon us and change will be voluntary. All the good change will be about sustainability. The ones who embrace and create change will come out on the other side of the transformation stronger and better prepared to do more with less (consume less - do more).

The paradigm shift will cause a lot of pain and a lot of people will everything in their power to prevent change (conservative republicans, white supremacists, NASCAR fans, etc.).

As difficult and uncertain these times promise to be there is one thing that won't change: intelligent people will continue to want to work for a better community, a cleaner stream, healthier forest, a more prosperous garden. That's a good thing. We'll have to work extra hard and be willing agents of change.

It will take a remarkable leader to get us there. One can hope.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tidal Trail...

We're heading into partial hibernation and it's time to read about new paddling destinations and plan for warmer weather paddling.

Produced by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Tidal Delaware Water Trail maps are a great read and they can be downloaded and studied for free. The overall quality of this web based resource for both paddlers and power boaters is excellent.

Paddling the tidal river is not for all tastes. For one thing the tidal Delaware is one of the nation's busiest commercial waterways with a never-ending procession of large vessels plying the river between the bay and Trenton. Wakes from large boats, waves, wind and frequent choppy conditions pose serious threats to paddlers. Open kayaks and canoes without flotation are a liability on the tidal river. Summer tidal paddling can also mean putting up with sandflies and mosquitoes, but there are some interesting places to explore along that stretch of the 135 mile long tidal river between Trenton and Marcus Hook, which is the area covered by the maps. Natural areas like Burlington Island offer opportunities to explore, and there are a few notable towns that can be visited along the way, such as Bristol PA, Burlington NJ, and Philadelphia. At the lower end of the Tidal Water Trail one can see and smell why the Delaware River is second largest petro-chemical complex.

As the adage "think globally - paddle locally" becomes more meaningful those who live near or in the coastal plain of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania have a great resource a short distance away.

The Tidal Water Trail website provides a wealth of information about river accesses, trip planning, safety and more. Check it out.