DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER: “Environmental Protection is Not a Partisan Issue”

 

 

Delaware, the River, and the Official Riverkeeper — Tale of Christmas and Courage

washington-crossing-delaware-image-from-internet-2cuff0553b

Washington Crossing the Delaware to Trenton, from Internet, by Leutze

Christmas is a time for every citizen in our country and everywhere, to remember:

without the Delaware River, there wouldn’t BE an America. 

This post celebrates a mightily courageous woman — Maya von Rossum — the official Delaware Riverkeeper.  She’s articulate, accurate, and brilliant.  Following her blog, or attending to local news media night after night, readers marvel at Maya’s steady focus on the many perils of our boundary water, and what must be done to reverse them.  Some situations are obvious and seemingly internal: like pollution, stormwater run-off, animal wastes and fertilizer poisoning by nearby farms.  One, which I fought to prevent, is artificially emptying her to cool a nuclear power plant.  Other dangers are less visible, certainly far more difficult to describe — matters political.  Listen with me to our spokeswoman, what she has to say about our river, our country, our freedom in these times.  AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SPEAKING OUT. 

Thomas Paine exemplified the utmost daring and determination in his diatribes, polemics, books and pamphlets in the time of the American Revolution.  It is the essence of the country our Founding Fathers dared all to create, that vox populi  — the Citizen’s Voice — is to be encouraged and heeded so that liberty may truly exist. 

Thomas Jefferson felt the war could never have been won without Paine’s words.  It is no accident that his most famous book is Common Sense.

NJWILDBEAUTY long-time readers, –especially those who came aboard when this was a Packet Publications Blog, NJWILD –, know that I’ve been fighting for the well-being of our magnificent Delaware River since I moved to New Hope from Princeton in March of 1981.   I used postcards of the painting above to announce my change of address.

baldpate-mountain-view-brenda-jones

Delaware River From Baldpate Mountain by Brenda Jones

That essential move across the river plunged me right into her perils.  Forces of greed, (though we did not bandy about that phrase in those days), a.k.a. PECO (Pennsylvania’s PSEG) and chemical firms, lawyers and judges, far-seeing realtors wanted to insert a pump into the Delaware.  To remove unconscionable amounts from this already too-thin river, and pump them to the Susquehanna River, where Del’s water would be used to cool a nuclear power plant.  A fierce protest group, Del-AWARE formed.  A newspaper was generated.  The printed word, the spoken word, and especially the televised word brought us national coverage in our battle for the river.

Our strategy meetings were held at a rather disreputable tavern, [Applejack’s – is it still there?] –appropriately upriver, on the river, above New Hope.  Remember that taverns were the meeting sites in the 1770s, where our seemingly impossible American Revolution unfolded.  I always picture early patriots, including Tom and John and George and Ben at Philadelphia’s City Tavern, banging pewter tankards on rough wooden tables, asserting “Give me LIBERTY or give me DEATH!”

In the 1980’s, near Lumberville, PA, just north of New Hope, my own friends, — women, including nursing mothers and venerable grandmothers–, lay down in front of the bulldozers set loose to ruin the river environmentlay down to save the river, and were jailed at what is now the Michener Museum.  For some reason, no one at that Bucks County penal institution seemed to have heard of the writ of habeas corpus, so those women were jailed for the entire weekend!  Patriots, indeed!  I think of this every time I view Delaware River Impressionists honored on the Michener’s former prison walls.

flood-waters-brenda-jones

Delaware in Flood, by Brenda Jones

I love our river even more than I cherish our state.  But I couldn’t lie down in front of bulldozers.  However, I could write.  I penned poems such as “I am The River Speaking” and “To Val (Sigstedt) and the Valorous” to be published in the DEL-AWARE newspaper.  One, written when the forces of greed blasted the river during the shad run, [and Nature generated a powerful mud-slide right across from the site of the proposed PUMP], ends, “Blast ME?  I’ll show YOU power!”

[To read the poems, here’s an earlier post with both in it:https://njwildbeauty.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/dump-the-pump-fighting-for-the-delaware-river-with-poems/comment-page-1/%5D

One feels so hopeless in the force of these impassive official corporate forces.  But I could also write prose, –especially letters to editors of Bucks County and Philadelphia Newspapers.  And, each week, in Doylestown, as a volunteer, I  penned position papers, releases and speeches for Congressional candidate, Peter Kostmayer.  Peter ultimately would see to it that our Del was named Wild and Scenic, for as much of her imperiled length as could possibly qualify.  He also played a major role in stopping the Tocks Island Dam Project. I’d write truths about the essentiality of saving our river one day, and see them on Page One of the Philadelphia Inquirer, as headlines, the next day.

THEN, as NOW, WORDS MATTERED – but they must be conveyed to the broadest possible public.

We succeeded in returning Peter to office, despite mockery, fury, insults, dirty tricks – like wording the Dump the Pump referendum backwards, so we had to vote YES to mean NO PUMP.  We won the May referendum to prevent the building of the PUMP. 

After which, I moved to France.  Upon my return, the PUMP was in place.  It had been a non-binding referendum.  Let the protestors beware…  However, our battle kept the greedy group from fulfilling their original plan to remove 200 million gallons a day from the River of the Revolution!

It’s almost Christmas, 1916.  Grave changes are afoot in our country, which could result in negative changes far more perilous and long-lasting than the Delaware’s unwelcome PUMP.

It’s also almost the anniversary of George’s famous Crossing, to win the two battles of Trenton and the one battle of Princeton.  Never forget that the third of our first victories took place in Princeton, near the Clarke House, near the Institute for Advanced Study [who have finally bowed to protests and will not be developing acres of that sacred battlefield.]

Soon we can attend the annual re-enactment at Washington’s Crossing on the Delaware below New Hope.  There might be enough water in our river, after all, despite this serious drought year.  People who live near major rivers know truths despite increasing insistence that global warming is a myth.  For awhile, it looked as though this year’s Re-enactors would have to walk across.

Without the Delaware River, and her bounty of shad, according to Founding Fish author John McPhee, which fed our meagerly-clad-and-nourished officers in winter quarters, WE WOULD NOT HAVE A NATION.

Because of the Delaware River, we are the only state with three coastlines — the Shore, The River, and the Delaware Bay.  Vital Philadelphia and our own Capitol would not exist without the Delaware,  Yet, she is never safe.

coursing-waters-brenda-jones

Coursing Waters, High Water, Delaware River by Brenda Jones

LISTEN TO THE DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER, HERE, AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.  Her level of commitment, devotion, and willing to sacrifice and risk, is Revolutionary.  Let Maya be our model, every one of us!

LISTEN TO MAYA.  FOLLOW HER BLOG.  IT’S TIME THAT EACH OF US BECOMES A Delaware Riverkeeper, a keeper of all rivers, of all natural beauty and the creatures — including humans — who require safe habitat in order to thrive.   cfe
1
  • Follow
    Go to the profile of Maya van Rossum

    Maya van Rossum

    Maya K. van Rossum is the Delaware Riverkeeper & leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Learn more www.delawareriverkeeper.org

  •  

     

     

     

    Advertisements

    Our So-Called Governor

    Old Glory Flies above PRESERVED East Point Light on the Imperiled Delaware Bayshore

    East Point Light and Flag May 2015

    East Point Light and Flag, Delaware Bayshore

     

    I’m saying it like it is.  My NJWILDBEAUTY readers have ‘heard’ me in other posts, lamenting the lack of true liberty in our land.  Noting that the more our government prates of ‘liberty’ and names airports for that lost reality, the more it harps on ‘security’, the less we have of either.

    I need someone wise to explain to me, “Whatever happened to democracy?”

    I don’t know whether we’re under oligarchy or tyranny, but whatever it IS is the opposite of everything for which our Founding Fathers/Sisters/Mothers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.  From melting the pewter to make bullets, to writing and signing the Declaration of Independence, they ‘screwed their courage to the sticking place.’

    And we echo T.S. Eliot — we are expected to let officials “teach us to be and not to be, teach us to sit still…”

    NO!

    OK, –everyone who cares about wild beauty anywhere–, what are you going to do about this?  Write me.  Tell me what you will do to turn around this travesty of government:

    [reminder, open land is the ultimate carbon sink… hence the Categories re climate change…]

    Contacts: Ed Potosnak, (732) 991-7574

    May 23, 2016                                                                                      Kelly Mooij, (732) 539-1693

     

    ESSENTIAL PRESERVATION PROGRAMS REMAIN UNFUNDED AS GOVERNOR DENIES VOTERS’ WILL AND CONDITIONALLY VETOES OPEN SPACE LEGISLATION

    TRENTON, NJ—Governor Christie conditionally vetoed S969/A780, the Preserve New Jersey Act, which would have provided the authorization and guidance to begin funding state, county, local and non-profit open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs consistent with the constitutional amendment passed in 2014 with 65 percent of voters’ support. After the Governor pocket vetoed implementation language at the end of last session, both houses of the Legislature prioritized this bill, and passed it again this year with strong bipartisan support.

    “We are appalled by the Governor’s disregard for the will of voters,” said Ed Potosnak, Chair of Keep It Green. “By conditionally vetoing this legislation, the Governor guaranteed New Jersey’s important Green Acres, Farmland Preservation, and Historic Preservation programs will continue to be denied voter-dedicated funds to preserve lands that protect our drinking water, grow Jersey Fresh produce, create community parks, and preserve our historic sites,” he continued.

    “The reliability and predictability of funding, which voters supported and which would have been achieved if the bill had been signed, is central to the success of these programs,” said Kelly Mooij, Coordinator of Keep It Green. “Without this legislation, preservation programs have had to delay or cut important projects and the State will be unable to develop long-term, strategic plans for wise investment. This flies in the face of the original purpose of the amendment, the well-established history of the program and could severely hurt the State in the long run,” Mooij continued.

    Governor Christie’s veto memo noted his desire for greater ‘flexibility’ in the budgeting process and less “granular” detail from the Legislature.

    “The Legislature has now twice put this bill on the Governor’s desk and he has vetoed and conditionally vetoed this critical legislation because he wants ‘flexibility’,” said Ed Potosnak, Chair of Keep It Green. “This rationale is offensive to New Jerseyans who constitutionally dedicated these funds to preserve open space, farmland, and historic sites and to support stewardship programs. The voters supported the constitutional dedication in order to ensure funding wasn’t subject to the year-to-year whims of politicians,” Potosnak explained.

    In FY2016, when no implementation language was passed, the Governor improperly used voter- dedicated funds to pay for park staff salaries, even after the Legislature removed authorizing language from his proposed budget and identified a different funding source. He has once again proposed using the funds for salaries this year.

    “Both chambers of the Legislature rejected Governor Christie’s proposal to divert open space funds to plug holes in the DEP’s budget because it is inconsistent with the intent of voters,” said Potosnak. “These funds are supposed to go to programs that preserve lands that protect our drinking water, grow some of the best produce in the world, and ensure our history is passed down to future generations. Without the guidance provided by the language in the Preserve New Jersey Act, Governor Christie raided the funds in FY2016 and is brazenly trying to use the funds for the same purpose again this year, which only reinforces the need for this legislation,” he continued.

    The Governor also criticized the lack of specifically enumerated funding for Blue Acres in the three year funding bill, despite the fact that Green Acres funds can be used to fund Blue Acres projects and that sufficient funds remain in the Blue Acres programs for buy-outs to continue at the current rate until the legislation sunsets.

    “Blue Acres funding is a critical part of the preservation program and must be included in the long-term investment portfolio of the State. This implementation legislation would have provided guidance for disbursement of the CBT funds for the next three years only. At the current rate of buy-outs, the Blue Acres program will not run out of funding before this legislation sunsets.” Said Kelly Mooij.

    “The Governor is being disingenuous when he says Blue Acres is absent from this bill. He knows, or should know, the Green Acres funding included within this allocation can be used for Blue Acres projects. Additionally, when the CBT dedication increases from 4% to 6%, as supported by the voters in 2014, additional funds will become available. A portion of that increase should be dedicated to Blue Acres,” added Ed Potosnak

    In the more than 50 years of these legacy preservation programs, detailed implementation language has always accompanied or followed the dedication of new funds.  Every previous Governor, Republican and Democrat, who was presented with implementing legislation, signed the bills.

    “The Governor has, in an unprecedented fashion, ignored the will of the voters and rejected the bipartisan effort put forth by the Legislature to reliably, transparently and predictably provide funding for vital preservation programs,” said Mooij. “We plan to investigate all options to ensure the constitutionally-dedicated monies are released to fund these critical programs as the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans intended,” she concluded.

    About New Jersey Keep It Green: New Jersey Keep It Green is a coalition of more than 180 park and conservation organizations working to create a long-term, dedicated source of funding for the preservation and stewardship of New Jersey’s natural areas, waterways, parks, farmland and historic sites. NJ Keep It Green led successful campaigns to pass statewide ballot measures in 2006, 2007, and 2009 generating $600 million for state open space, farmland and historic preservation programs. In 2014, NJ Keep It Green led a successful campaign that supports sustained, long-term funding for preservation and stewardship. For more information or to sign the NJ Keep It Green Statement of Support, visit http://www.njkeepitgreen.org.

    This follows my signature at work.  Perhaps those who rule our country now, the new versions of King George III, are dead set against the whole world’s being ‘kin’.

    “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

               William Shakespeare

    SIGN UP FOR FRIENDS OF THE EARTH & SAVE THE PLANET

    Morning on Barnegat Bay Island Beach April 2016

    Exquisite, Now Healthy, Barnegat Bay, thanks to Preservationists / Environmentalists

    Some of you surely wonder why I’ve spent 11 going on 12 years at D&R Greenway Land Trust, at this phase of my life, and, yes, so poorly recompensed.  The answer is, my life mission has become to save the Planet.

    New Dune Grass Bayhead April 2016

    New Dune, New Dune Grass, Protecting Beloved Bay Head, New Jersey, April 2016

    If you ever check me out on Facebook, that’s basically the only kind of ‘posting’ I do.  Once friends and I fought with minimal success to save Kingson’s Princeton Nursery Land from being sold and developed through Princeton University, into what was Villas of Tuscany and is now Barclay Square.  Hundreds of towering dwellings went in, where magnificent trees used to thrive, and so close to our Canal – drinking water for thousands locally  These condos are visible from the D&R Canal and Towpath, which is absolutely forbidden – and yet, and yet… significant exceptions were made.  The developers had the Princeton Nursery Lands deemed officially ‘nonhistoric’, triumphantly showing the signed and sealed document at a critical hearing concerning ‘Villas of Tuscany.’  ‘Nonhistoric’ although Washington had marched there with his barefoot troops after the first Revolutionary Victories, the two in Trenton and the one in Princeton; then, again, en route to crucial Monmouth and yet another win.  Abraham Lincoln rode the Camden and Amboy Railroad through that land en route to his Inauguration and his grave.  The Princeton Nurseries were the finest in America and some say in the world in its day.  The Canal, Towpath and that railroad defined New Jersey, determined its essential towns.  You can see the Barclay Square dwellings, symbol of our defeat, when down in a kayak on the water.

    I mourned, just before that distant meeting over on the Delaware River (so no one could attend the hearing without taking precious scarce vacation days to be there) to one of the fellow protestors, whom I didn’t even know: “But I’m a poet.  What am I doing at the barricades?!?”

    His answer propels almost everything I do these days, including walking into D&R Greenway in 2006 and saying, “Am I supposed to work with you?”

    “Carolyn,” this stranger answered on the phone, “The barricades — that is where poets belong!”

    First Kayak D&R Canal at Alexander Rd May 2015

    Heading South from Alexander, 5 to 6:30 on a golden Sunday evening

    This serenity is the norm on the D&R Canal, except where Barclay Square looms.  We did manage to save enough land to create a preserve, carefully watched over by the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands.  My heroic fellow barricade-contenders in that long-ago fight are still in the forefront of saving and keeping Kingston and its sacred Revolutionary War and Industrial and Canal and Towpath and even Camden and Amboy Railroad sites as safe as they can possibly be from rapacious developers.  We have Karen Linder, Anne Zeman, Mark Peel, Tari Pantaleo and Robert von Zumbusch to thank for Kingston successes.  In fact, join Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands whether you ever set foot(e) in Kingston or not — for that canal and that river flow into the Raritan, its sacred Bay, and the sea, mantle of our blue planet.

    GreatEgretfishing8-12-09

    Great Egret Fishing the D&R Canal,  by Brenda Jones

    The following thank you note just came in from Friends of the Earth.  The 21st Century can seem so hopeless, climate-wise, Planet-wise.  But small acts by committed people, as Margaret Mead asserts, are still changing the world.  “Indeed, this is the only thing that ever has,” she continues.  Read this.  Sign up of Friends for the Earth yourselves, financially and electronically.  Let’s prove all the skeptics wrong and save our Planet.

    Read the effects of courageous acts by committed people, 21st-Century paradigm changers:

    (bolds mine)   cfe

    Dear Carolyn Foote,

    I was just thinking about all we’ve achieved together in the past few months and I wanted to thank you for making it happen. Your activism makes a difference!

    In fact, the activism of Friends of the Earth members like you in Maryland was crucial to passing the nation’s first law to ban bee-killing pesticides. Without your emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings with local legislators, the law wouldn’t have passed. Now, it’s time to take the fight to other states with similar bills on the table — and build momentum for national action on bee-killing pesticides.

    On the national level, you’ve driven progress in our work to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The White House recently put a moratorium on all new coal leasing — which you helped make happen by signing petitions and writing to the President. 

    And that’s not all — the Obama Administration has also postponed five oil and gas lease sales — taking a total of 125,136 acres of public land off the table for now. We’re gaining momentum thanks to the constant drumbeat from people like you telling President Obama to protect our public lands and climate. But we won’t stop until the President keeps ALL our fossil fuels in the ground.

    By taking action online and in your community, you are saving bees and butterflies. You’re preventing the worst impacts of climate chaos. From local victories to progress on national issues, you’re driving our work forward. So thank you for all you’ve done, and keep up the good work!

    Thanks for being a Friend of the Earth.

    Warm Regards,
    Erich Pica,

    President,
    Friends of the Earth