Princeton, NJ — American Rivers 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.
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 a day by ensuring these lands are not converted into housing developments. D&R Greenway has conserved land in Delaware River Valley communities of Lambertville, Hopewell, 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, includes the headwaters of Jacobs Creek, which flows 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.
Mayor Reed Gusciora of Trenton 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 over 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.”
Jim Lynch, Mayor, City of Bordentown talks of the importance of the river to his life and community, “I literally grew up on the Delaware River. Whether it was fishing on Yapewi Aquatic Boat Club’s Docks at 3:00 a.m. with my Uncle Babe or docking my first boat at Bordentown Yacht Club in 1971 under the tutelage of Past Commodore Bill Feaster, the River has had a huge impact on my life. After class let out at Bordentown Military Institute, it was down to the River for a water skiing adventure until dark. I became the youngest Commodore in Bordentown Yacht Club’s history at 21 years old. Losing my father at age 12 was not easy for me. The Delaware River became my outlet, with great family support. What was once a river with many challenges of neglect and pollution has blossomed into this gem. It’s through your efforts and many others that this award is well deserved and long overdue.”
This summer at the Bordentown Beach, D&R Greenway will be launching a new education program involving kayaks, at the confluence of Crosswicks Creek with the Delaware River. Artist Marlon Davila, first-generation Guatemalan born and raised in Princeton, will be painting a relevant mural upon the kayak container at Bordentown Beach. Davila will be assisted in this project by high school youth through the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF). These Central Jersey students primarily come from Trenton, Ewing and Princeton. This work is supported by a grant from The William Penn Foundation.
Directing the art project is Nadeem Demian, Strategic Community Conservation Fellow at D&R Greenway. He describes the kayak endeavor as having “three-fold goals: to express our human relationship to water through public art and community education; to create more diverse and inclusive conservation-conscious spaces in our region; and to foster awareness of the local community’s vital role in preserving natural resources. I am thankful to all of those who have made this program possible, and we are excited to bring this valuable asset to the River City of Bordentown.”