John Belle loved motorcycles and he loved the environment – especially the waterways and woods of the upper Raritan River watershed in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties.
In 2003, John and his wife, Amy Greene, found a way to merge these two passions: The annual Ride for the River, a group motorcycle ride through the scenic backroads of the watershed to raise funds for the South Branch Watershed Association, which later became Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
Each spring, John took a special delight in designing a new 60-mile route to showcase the beauty of the watershed and cross as many rivers and streams as possible. “Not surprisingly, we ride on a lot of roads called ‘River Road,’” he said in a 2017 interview. Over the years, the event drew hundreds of riders and raised over $160,000 for RHA’s clean water mission.
John Belle passed away on April 18 after a battle with cancer at the age of 73. A Raritan Township resident, he was a civil engineer and environmental consultant who specialized in ecological restorations and recreational facility design.
To honor John’s memory, and comply with the state’s ban on group gatherings, this year’s Ride for the River will encourage motorcycle enthusiasts to ride independently on a route designed by John and donate in his name to RHA.
“John was an incredible person and a devoted supporter of Raritan Headwaters. He put a lot of time and care into making Ride for the River a fun event that raised funds and awareness of our beautiful watershed region,” said Executive Director Cindy Ehrenclou. “John will be sorely missed, and we hope that his many friends and colleagues will take this opportunity to celebrate his life during the month of June.”
This year’s Ride for the River will be open to both motorcycle riders and car drivers. Participants can choose among the 2017, 2018 or 2019 routes designed by John, or create their own.
To see the route maps, go to the Raritan Headwaters event webpage, where you can also donate in John’s name or sponsor the event.
For more information on donations and sponsorships, contact Blake Putnam, Director of Development.
About Raritan Headwaters
Raritan Headwaters has been working since 1959 to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through efforts in science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship. RHA’s 470-square-mile region provides clean drinking water to 300,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties and beyond to some 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey’s densely populated urban areas.
To learn more about Raritan Headwaters and its programs, please visit www.raritanheadwaters.org or call 908-234-1852.