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Photo by Amie Rukenstein

American Rivers, a national organization that protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature, has announced the Delaware River as 2020’s River of the Year. American Rivers’ honors today’s Delaware for renewed health and cleanliness, emphasizing “the community of individuals, organizations and municipalities, who not only mobilized but significantly joined forces, to restore health to these waters and to species dependent upon them.” The organization particularly notes the mighty Delaware’s recent “momentous progress in terms of water quality, river restoration and community revitalization.” This waterway, that played a significant role in the birth of our country, was choked with pollution and sewage just seventy-five years ago. Today, it is thriving again thanks to protection efforts and individual and group action.  

Photo by Amie Rukenstein

The good news of the Delaware River’s 2020 honor is particularly significant to D&R Greenway Land Trust. Founded in 1989 to protect regional water quality by preserving land along the Delaware & Raritan Canal, the land trust has permanently preserved land that saves 3.5 million gallons of water usage per day by ensuring these lands are not converted into housing developments. D&R Greenway has conserved land in the Delaware River Valley communities of Lambertville, Hopewell Township, Ewing, Trenton, Hamilton and Bordentown, and in the Delaware Bay community of Mannington in south Jersey. In addition to protecting water quality, these lands along the Swan, Moores, Jacobs, Assunpink, Crosswicks and Blacks creeks in central NJ, and in Mannington Meadows, provide important breeding grounds for birds that are declining in numbers due to loss of these habitats. D&R Greenway’s 300th permanently preserved property, Woosamonsa Ridge in Hopewell Township, includes the headwaters of Jacobs Creek, which flows through the Township directly into the Delaware.  

More than 15 million people get their drinking water from the Delaware River watershed. In 2003, D&R Greenway partnered with the State of New Jersey to protect the water company property located on Route 518 near Lambertville, protecting a drinking water aquifer for over 1,600 water company customers that include the entire city of Lambertville and residents in West Amwell. River towns benefit by their historic location along the Delaware, particularly through the river’s current health and legendary beauty. 

Photo by Amie Rukenstein

Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton says he is pleased with the river’s new honor: “The Delaware River is our connection to both past and future. It’s great to get this good news… it helps us see the importance of working together on all levels.”  During these challenging times for residents in our local communities, when some depend on the river for sustenance, this announcement that the river has returned to a state of health is of major importance.

For more than 25 years, D&R Greenway has worked with partners to protect land and waterways in the Abbott Marshlands near the capital city of Trenton. A member of the Alliance for Watershed Education for the Delaware River Watershed (AWE), D&R Greenway partnered with Mercer County to establish the Tulpehaking Nature Center.   

“My favorite view is the sun setting over the Delaware River,” says Linda Mead, President and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust, who resides in the Delaware River watershed. “More than 25 years ago, I was honored to co-found the Delaware River Sojourn, a multi-day annual kayaking trip on the Delaware. I am excited to launch D&R Greenway’s new kayak-supported education program in Bordentown as the Delaware is exalted to the 2020 River of the Year. It is by experiencing the river and learning to love it that future leaders will take action to protect it.”

Photo by Amie Rukenstein

Submitted by D&R Greenway Land Trust, which was founded in 1989 to address concerns about increasing development pressures upon Central Jersey land and water. The first priority of the nonprofit organization was to protect water quality by preserving land along the tributaries that flow into the Delaware & Raritan Canal, a drinking water source for New Jersey residents. Increasingly recognizing that New Jersey will be the first state to reach “build-out”, according to Rutgers University, the land trust has now achieved preservation of more than 300 properties in seven counties, including key farmland and marshland at the Delaware Bay. Now in its 31st year, D&R Greenway’s mission to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic has resulted in 20,903 acres of permanently preserved land. With 32 miles of trails on its preserves, D&R Greenway Land Trust is keeping their open space open on selected popular trails to encourage health and well-being through connection in nature.  www.drgreenway.org

The mission of the organization honoring the Delaware, American Rivers, is to “protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature.” American Rivers “combine[s] national advocacy with field work in key river basins to deliver the greatest impact. This honor exults that “Today, the Delaware River is on the mend and thriving. Through federal safeguards, state action and local initiative, the quality of waters in the Delaware have dramatically improved. [Significant] fish and wildlife have returned in tremendous numbers… The mainstem of the Delaware remains the longest free-flowing river in the eastern United States, with the most extensive National Wild and Scenic River protection of any watershed in the country. Today, communities along the Delaware River are setting a national example of river stewardship.”  https://www.americanrivers.org/

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