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.