Nothing says autumn in the country more than colorful leaves, fresh apple cider, horse-drawn hayrides, bluegrass music, pumpkins and scarecrows.
Visitors to Raritan Headwaters’ 38th annual Old Fashioned Country Fair will enjoy a full day of fall activities, food and live music on Sunday, Oct. 8, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve.
“Country Fair is a great day of outdoor family fun, and it has been a tradition in the Somerset Hills since 1980,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of the Bedminster-based watershed watchdog. “We invite the community to come out for a fun day in the country that supports Raritan Headwaters’ mission of protecting clean water.”
Perennial favorite activities include wagon rides with a team of Clydesdale horses, a field maze, pumpkin painting, scarecrow dressing, beekeeper demonstrations, and appearances by the Raptor Trust and Tewksbury Foot Bassets. New this year will be a pumpkin sling for launching mini-pumpkins across a field.
In late July, Eastern Concrete Materials, Inc. discharged sludge from their quarry in Glen Gardner into the Spruce Run. The sludge impacted about 1.7 miles of the creek and traveled as far as the Spruce Run Reservoir. The clean-up effort is continuing. Spruce Run is a Category-1 Trout Production stream, which means water quality in the stream is supposed to be protected because the stream is critically important habitat.
Raritan Headwaters responded to the spill. Our staff is visiting Spruce Run regularly to monitor the clean-up, support local residents, and address our concerns with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
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.”
Join RHA for the launch of our new kayak fleet on the South Branch Raritan River!
This paddling session is open to RHA members, who can register in advance or drop in for a first-come first-serve opportunity to paddle the gentle waters of the South Branch in Clinton for up to one hour at a time between 1-4 pm. Up to 8 people can paddle at a time, and the beautiful setting of the river beside the Red Mill and Hunterdon Art Museums will be a perfect way to end a summer weekend.
Paddlers will be provided with a paddle and life jacket. Please bring plenty of water and wear water shoes, strappy sandals or old sneakers that can get wet. We will be stationed in the Water Street Parking Lot in Clinton, where there is easy access to the river (photo at right). Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information, please contact Lauren at email@example.com.
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.”