Raritan Headwaters, the region’s watershed watchdog, and Columbia University will hold a free seminar on the health effects of arsenic in drinking water from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Hunterdon County Library at 314 Route 12.
Local government and health leaders are invited to attend the seminar, which is part of Raritan Headwaters’ ongoing “Watershed Tool for Local Leaders” series. Members of the public may also attend.
According to Dr. Kristi MacDonald, director of science for Raritan Headwaters, the seminar will focus on the importance of informing residents of the health risks of arsenic in drinking water and the need to regularly test and treat private wells.
“Hunterdon County is a hot spot for arsenic in well water,” said Dr. MacDonald. “Eighty percent of county residents get their drinking water from private wells, so it’s crucial that local leaders take an active role in promoting well testing.”
Public comment period now open
Raritan Headwaters is pleased to announce that it is applying for accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, a national group that evaluates land conservation organizations to make sure they meet quality standards. A public comment period is now open and will run through Nov. 6.
“We’re seeking accreditation because it’s the right thing to do – for our members, our donors and local citizens who look to us to stand up for clean water and the lands that protect it,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based nonprofit.
We’re bidding a fond farewell to Carmela Buono, our 2016-17 Watershed Ambassador, who spent the past year traveling around the Raritan Headwaters region to raise public awareness of watershed issues and how human actions affect water quality.
“This past year I learned that when you empower people with the knowledge and science about the ecology of a watershed, the passion to protect and act will follow,” said Carmela, who is heading off to Binghamton University to pursue a master’s degree in biology and ecology.
Carmela came to us through the New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program, a community-oriented AmeriCorps environmental program coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Good news for Raritan Headwaters’ water quality and education programs! We just received a $2,500 grant from the Investors Foundation, which will support a variety of initiatives to safeguard clean water in our rivers, our streams and our homes.
“We’re very grateful to the Investors Foundation for supporting clean water in central New Jersey,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, RHA’s executive director. “This grant supports our water quality monitoring programs, along with public education, advocacy and other community outreach activities. It helps us get more families and children involved in protecting our water resources.”
RHA increasing outdoor education for urban youth
Urban children attending the LifeCamp in Pottersville are getting hands-on lessons in river ecology this summer, thanks to a grant to Raritan Headwaters from The North Face’s 2017 Explore Fund.
Raritan Headwaters, the region’s watershed watchdog, was awarded $8,000 to provide nature education to campers, using the Black River as an outdoor classroom. Campers are between the ages of 6 and 13, and come from the greater Newark public school system and the city’s charter schools.
“Our mission is to protect water – rivers, streams and drinking water – and I can think of no better way than teaching the next generation about the importance of caring for the environment,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of Bedminster-based Raritan Headwaters. “We’re extremely grateful to the Explore Fund for supporting our important work and we’re excited to be part of a national movement to inspire and engage people in outdoor exploration.”
This summer, for the first time, Raritan Headwaters welcomed two science interns to assist us with research on water quality and pollutants in local rivers and streams.
Kate Arnao of Mine Hill and Phillip Worster of Denville are working with Dr. Kristi MacDonald, our science director, to monitor macroinvertebrates, chemicals and bacteria in rivers and streams; and help with a pilot study on microplastics and another study on salamanders.
“These projects involve a lot of field work and a lot of lab work,” noted Kristi. “We seriously couldn’t have accomplished the amount of work we did this summer without Kate and Phillip.”
Kate, a graduate of Dover High School, will be entering her final semester this fall at Centenary University, where she is majoring in environmental science. This past spring, as part of her course studies, she researched invasive plants for Raritan Headwaters.
Remember last December, when Governor Christie asked for special legislation allowing him to profit from a book deal while in office?
Initially, the bill looked like it would sail swiftly through the Legislature. “The legislators figured, ‘Who cares?’ ” recalled Bill Kibler, Raritan Headwaters’ policy director.
As it turned out, New Jersey citizens did care – very much. When news of the book deal broke, it went viral. Angry residents jammed their legislators’ phone lines and flooded their email inboxes. Most expressed the opinion that it would be improper for the governor to write a book for profit while on the public payroll.
Legislators instantly pulled their support. “They killed the bill because people were up in arms about it,” said Bill, who was at the State House in Trenton that day. “It blew up, and the legislators never, ever saw that coming.”
As an avid kayaker, 16-year-old Dionel Esteves knows the importance of having good information about the rivers he paddles. He also appreciates a clean and safe river, free of trash on its banks and in its waters.
Thanks to Dionel, paddlers looking to explore the North and South Branches of the Raritan River will have an easier time finding places to put in and take out their kayaks, as well as the locations of bridges crossing the river. And through his volunteer work with the nonprofit Raritan Headwaters, Dionel has helped make the river a cleaner place.
Dionel recently earned his Eagle Scout rank for his efforts to help the Raritan River. His achievement was celebrated at a Court of Honor on June 4.
RHA is offering two workshops on June 15
If you’ve ever felt that elected officials are out of touch with what their constituents want, you’re not alone. And if you’ve wanted to share your thoughts with a politician but didn’t know how, Bill Kibler can help.
Kibler, policy director for watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters, will lead two “Call to Action” workshops on Thursday, June 15, to teach area residents how to make their opinions known to elected representatives at all levels of government.
The morning workshop will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., and the evening workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. Both will be held at the Fairview Farm wildlife preserve at 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster, where Raritan Headwaters’ main office is located.
Trish McGuire tried for years to grow a traditional English garden in her yard. “It failed, year after year,” said Trish, Raritan Headwaters’ volunteer and outreach coordinator.
That’s when she decided to make life easier for herself and switch to plants that are native to New Jersey.
“Now I have a native garden and it looks great,” said Trish, our resident horticulture expert. “I don’t have to water it and I don’t have to spray it for pests. My flowers are just as showy and spectacular as non-native perennial plants.”
If you’re looking for flowers that look great, don’t need to be fussed over – and attract and support birds, bees and butterflies – consider “going native.”