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

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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    Maya van Rossum

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

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    SEPTEMBER SONG — Autumnal Signs

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    Autumn Mimics Christmas Along the D&R Canal

    Is anyone else more impatient than usual for autumn crispness?  Do others feel as though that “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” will never arrive?  Might you be “making a list and checking it twice” of early proofs that there really is such a thing as fall?

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    Autumn’s golden gifts brighten a dreary canal

    I have begun my own Autumnal Chronicle.  Despite assiduous attention, however, this tally is pretty meager.  It is particularly challenging this year to differentiate between the season for which I am longing and the effects of drought.  Sycamores are turning.  But, these puzzle-trunked beauties require ‘wet feet’, almost as urgently as willows.  No New Jersey trees are receiving sufficient moisture in dire 2016. Shocked by dessication, sycamores began dropping huge loud leaves in August.

    I’m seeking first wild spurts of scarlet and crimson: Virginia creeper, otherwise known as woodbine; and its usual neighbor, poison ivy act as restaurant signs for migrating birds.  These vines employ the most vivid hue the minute they’re ripe enough to nourish.  In nearly mid-September, both species remain relentlessly forest green.

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    Autumnal Carnegie Lake

    My fall list begins with the very loud, entirely too audible, crunching of crisp leaves under my car wheels along Fackler Road in Lawrenceville.

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    Spill of Crisp Leaves — Carnegie Lake Dock

    I was forced to acknowledge autumn as I passed the Lawrenceville Community Garden.  Every towering sunflower is bent and spent, like people who neglect osteoporosis.

    Driving past Loews to reach Trader Joe’s, there was the first inescapable bank of mums.

    As I carried TJ purchases back to my  car, however, I thrilled to an endless river of dark birds, coursing and coursing as though they fleeing an impending storm.

    I realize that none of these examples contains the ecstatic outpouring I would expect from myself as the season turns.  And that NJWILDBEAUTY readers have come to expect from me.

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    Sweet Gum Leaves in Autumn Finery

    This year, the coming season is marred by the very serious illness of my 20[year-old great nephew, James Weitzel.  His heroism is striking.  But this shining young man; this consummate, initially intuitive musician (percussion especially); this person who’s touched the heart of everyone with whom he interacts in Springfield, Illinois, has been abruptly stricken in his prime.  Now James has a bald head, and not because it’s chic.  Now James has to relearn the very simple process of walking.  So my own heart and feet are not skipping.

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    Delaware River Footbridge from Black Bass Inn in Autumn

    Autumn meant new beginnings, for this foolish one who couldn’t wait for school.  I lived for first lavender smoke rising from chimneys, and especially from towering bonfires of leaves we’d raked all day..  And harvests were the heart of the matter.

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    Trenton Farmers’ Market Bounty

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    Today, I’ve tried to fill a treasure chest of autumn memories.  Maybe it will lift NJWILDBEAUTY spirits, as well as my own.  Maybe you’ll even comment on favorite aspects of this laggard season for you.

     

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    Trenton Farmers’ Market Apple Crop

    Parties meant bobbing for apples and sipping new cider. Popcorn turning white and sometimes a little black in the long-handled black corn popper over coals in our family room fireplace.  New loves began at pep rallies and the subsequent Homecoming Ball.  Happiness swirled in on every fresh breeze.

    Maybe, seeing these NJ fall views, you’ll get out on (preserved, of course) trails, and create new memories.

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    D&R Greenway’s Cedar Ridge Preserve — Terrestrial Box Turtle Among the Leaves

    Maybe it’s color for which I am longing.

    Or is it that September and October represent constellations of change?

    Remembering Columbia River Gorge

    Helicopter over flaming Rowena area of Columbia River Gorge

    Helicopter over flaming Rowena area of Columbia River Gorge

    Various news services have made it clear that the glorious Columbia River Gorge was assailed by wildfires this past week.  My dear friend, poet Penelope Schott, of Portland, reports the fires are mostly over.  She drives past the hills that were scorched a number of times each week, to and from her writer’s retreat in Dufur, the wheat country beyond the Gorge.

    Charred Rowena Area of Columbia River Gorge

    Charred Rowena Area of Columbia River Gorge

    We know that rainlessness is the norm in Oregon in summer.  But there is a difference between lack of rain and deep extended drought.

    The latter, as everyone knows, but few wish to discuss, let alone change, is caused by climate change.  Which is caused by insistence upon using fossil fuels instead of renewable energy.

    This summer, before the fires, Penelope and Eric had me visit in both (beautiful, conscious!) Portland and remote, sweet Dufur.  Here, mostly without words, are pictures of the Rowena part of the Gorge, near the Dalles, before fire had its way with that spectacular region.

    Watch with me.  Care with me.

    Beautiful Columbia Gorge   before fires Summer 2014

    Beautiful Columbia Gorge before fires Summer 2014

    This was taken from an overlook which could well be the charred scene above.

    Curvilinear Route from Portland to Dufur, from overlook at Rowena in Columbia Gorge

    Curvilinear Route from Portland to Dufur, from overlook at Rowena in Columbia Gorge

     

    Gorge Wildflowers and Ancient Rocks from Glacial Times -- These wildflowers will return

    Gorge Wildflowers and Ancient Rocks from Glacial Times — These wildflowers will return

    Stalwart Chicory of the Borge

    Stalwart Chicory of the Gorge

    Three Thrilled Cyclists, Having Achieved Columbia Gorge Rowena Lookout

    Three Thrilled Cyclists, Having Achieved Columbia Gorge Rowena Lookout

    Penelope and Lily's Favorite Gorge Stop -- a wildflower meadow like a Cluny tapestry... millefiori

    Penelope’s and Lily’s Favorite Gorge Stop — a wildflower meadow like a Cluny tapestry… millefiori

    May Bounty, Columbia Gorge, Rowena Lookout

    May Bounty, Columbia Gorge, Rowena Lookout

    Quintessential Parking Lot, Rowena Lookout, Columbia Gorge -- nestled in snowcapped mountains not showing in this scene

    Quintessential Parking Lot, Rowena Lookout, Columbia Gorge — nestled in snowcapped mountains not showing in this scene

    Gifts of Glacier and Meltwater, Rowena Lookout

    Gifts of Glacier and Meltwater, Rowena Lookout

    When Columbia Gorge was Evergreen Heaven

    When Columbia Gorge was Evergreen Heaven

    Road Not Yet Taken, from Rowena Lookout Toward Dufur from Portland Oregon

    Road Not Yet Taken, from Rowena Lookout Toward Dufur from Portland Oregon

    Oregon Lupine Columbia River Gorge Rowena Lookout

    Columbia Gorge from Rowena Lookout, High Desert Country, where Dufur Awaits, across Columbia

    Columbia Gorge from Rowena Lookout, High Desert Country, where Dufur Awaits, across Columbia

    April Showers brought...

    April Showers brought…

    HERE’S WISHING CHERISHED ROWENA A SPEEDY RECOVERY.

    Here’s wishing increased awareness of the outcomes of catastrophic climate change.

    Preserve all open space in your region.

    Live a sustainable life.