Sunday, July 18, 2010

Power to the People?

The proposed Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission line was the focus of a July 12 trip down the Delaware River between Bushkill and Smithfield Beach.

We met at the National Park Service headquarters and received an overview of the project and how NPS is responding (with a 2-year study). Park Superintendant Donohue put it in perspective when he described a multitude of utility and resource extraction projects that threaten the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Delaware River itself.

The VIP’s in the group included township officials from Fredon Township, NJ and Lehman Township, PA, as well as a Monroe County Commissioner, and a congressional aide. There were representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club (my new employer), Sierra Club (PA & NJ), New Jersey Conservation Foundation, National Parks Foundation, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network (apologies to those I missed).

The National Canoe Safety Patrol – Lower Delaware Chapter provided escort along with a handful of NPS employees.

We paddled the 10 mile stretch of the river on a hot sunny day through Walpack Bend (perfect for a swim break) down to the very spot where the proposed transmission line is proposed to cut through and destroy the character of one of the prettiest sections of the entire river. That was the lunch stop and we lingered there for awhile to contemplate how one of the nation’s busiest National Parks could ever be considered for such a project. Maybe that’s just the nature of the likes of PP&L and PSE&G.

Utility companies make money for their shareholders generating electricity for an insatiable public; electricity that is being generated by dirty coal-fired power plants using coal carved out of the landscape by what is known as ‘mountaintop removal coal mining.’ Is this project really needed?

The Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission line represents an antiquated, twentieth century approach and the project should be deep-sixed. But if it is to be built it can’t be allowed to destroy the public commons. This park belongs to the people, not to PP&L and PSE&G.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Floating Flotilla

July 3rd was hot and sunny – a perfect day to lead 25 boats down the Delaware River for the Musconetcong Watershed Association.

The river was running just above 3’ at the Riegelsville gage and after completing a complex car shuttle we set out down the river by 10am.

There were only 2 canoes in the flotilla, the rest were solo kayaks. This trip also included 4 teenage paddlers and at least a few among the group had little or no experience paddling in moving water. We only had one unplanned swimmer, one of the teens went over the rock shelf (sideways) at Raubsville and found himself floating downriver on his back. We performed the river rescue and the kid had a fine ‘baptism.’

It was a great relief to find not one jetski on this stretch of the river and only a few motor boats, and those were unusually courteous operators as far as honoring the ‘no wake zone.’

On my way back downriver to Yardley I was amazed by how many people were out on the river in all manner of watercraft, from tubes to pontoon boats. It’s clearly a “staycation” kind of summer.