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?