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.
Hundreds of small rivers, streams, creeks and brooks meander through Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties’ mostly-rural landscapes, eventually joining to form the North and South Branches of the Raritan River.
How clean are the waters of these streams? Can you safely wade, swim, fish and paddle in them?
These are questions that Raritan Headwaters, the region’s watershed watchdog, has been investigating and reporting to the public for almost 60 years through its annual stream monitoring program.
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.”
Motorcycle run to raise funds for Raritan Headwaters
Motorcycle enthusiasts usually aren’t the first folks that come to mind when you think about advocates for the environment.
But for the 14th year, a group of dedicated bikers will ride the scenic back roads of the upper Raritan River watershed in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties next month to raise funds for watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters.
The “Ride for the River,” a 60-mile motorcycle poker run, will be held on Saturday, June 10, leaving from the Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton Township between 9 to 11 a.m. There will be a picnic lunch at the end of the run.
“It’s a nice, leisurely ride highlighting the beauty of the watershed,” said Amy Greene, who organizes the event with her husband, John Belle. “Every year, John develops a different route of about 60 miles. We like to cross as many rivers as we can.”
“Not surprisingly, we ride on a lot of roads called ‘River Road,’” added Belle.
1,300-plus volunteers remove nearly 14 tons of trash
They hauled out old tires and auto parts, broken appliances and discarded construction debris. They picked up 5,630 plastic bottles, 1,542 plastic shopping bags, and countless odd items like a dog crate, kiddie pool, charcoal grill and artificial Christmas tree still decorated with ornaments.
You might be tempted to say Raritan Headwaters’ 27th annual Stream Cleanup included “everything but the kitchen sink” … but a sink was found, too!
Over 1,300 volunteers of all ages pitched in on Earth Day, April 22, to remove nearly 14 tons of litter and trash from river and stream banks in Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris and Middlesex counties during the 2017 Stream Cleanup.
The trash came from the banks of the Raritan River and its tributaries in Raritan Headwaters’ 470-square-mile region and beyond, as one team worked downstream along New Brunswick’s banks of the lower Raritan.
Despite occasional rain showers, volunteers worked steadily throughout the morning to fill hundreds of bags with trash to be disposed of properly … and plastics, glass and aluminum to be recycled.
How’s this for a creative challenge? Take a bunch of old wooden doors and donated cans of leftover house paint, and use them to create decorative panels illustrating nature, landscapes and farm scenes in and around the Raritan River watershed.
That’s the challenge Bedminster artist Julie Goetz accepted when invited to paint artwork to be displayed and auctioned off at Raritan Headwaters’ “Boots & Bar-B-Q” fundraiser this Saturday, April 22.
The result is an environmentally responsible exhibit of more than a dozen panels featuring fish, birds, horses and woodland creatures.
“The woodlands and open space of the Bedminster area has always been an inspiration to me, especially the horses and cows,” said Julie. “I’ve always had an affinity for animals.”
Setting up a temporary studio in the barn classroom at our Fairview Farm wildlife preserve, Julie volunteered many hours painting the panels over the last few months.
Lauren Theis, director of education for Raritan Headwaters, has been named to the faculty of the Student Conservation Corps and Congress (Sc3), a prestigious summer program that draws student leaders from all over the world.
Theis, a member of the RHA staff for the past 10 years, will be a Faculty Fellow at Sc3, which will be held from June 25 to July 1 at the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.
“The Student Conservation Corps and Congress is where the next generation of conservation leaders is educated and mentored,” said Theis. “I feel honored to serve on the Sc3 faculty, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity to share my knowledge of nature and the environment with students.”
Watershed watchdog Raritan Headwaters will expand its annual Stream Cleanup to include the city of New Brunswick this spring, thanks to a generous Blue Water Project grant from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
Over 1,500 volunteers will be mobilized by Raritan Headwaters on Earth Day – Saturday, April 22 – to pick up trash and litter along the Raritan River and its tributaries at over 50 sites in Somerset, Hunterdon, Morris and Middlesex counties.
With support from the RBC grant, approximately 200 of those volunteers will help clean up the riverbank near Frank Deiner Park in New Brunswick, which is littered with tires, plastic bags and other debris. The elevated park operated by Rutgers University overlooks Route 18 where it crosses the Raritan River.
Raritan Headwaters will join forces with Rutgers and the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership to connect with a diverse population of New Brunswick residents and encourage them to join the Deiner Park cleanup.
Environmental activities planned from April 15-30
Celebrate Earth Week with Raritan Headwaters this April by cleaning up a local stream, adding native plants to your property, going on a bird walk, planting trees at a wildlife preserve, training to become a volunteer citizen scientist or kicking up your heels at a barbecue fundraiser.
“We have so much planned for Earth Week that it’s actually spread over two weeks,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based watershed watchdog. “We hope a lot of local residents will join us for one or more of these great activities that contribute to the protection of our streams and other natural resources.”
Raritan Headwaters will kick off Earth Week on Saturday, April 15, with a Native Plant Sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fairview Farm wildlife preserve at 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster. The Pinelands Nursery will provide a variety of native plants that will attract birds, butterflies and bees to your yard.