Press Release: Congressman Malinowski visits Musconetcong River to celebrate Earth Day
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Karen Doerfer, Communications and Development Associate
Musconetcong Watershed Association
RE: Congressman Malinowski visits Musconetcong River to celebrate Earth Day
Congressman participates in river clean-up and announces support of federal funding for recreational improvements
Asbury, NJ Congressman Malinowski met with staff from the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) and Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) to participate in a clean-up on the banks of the Musconetcong River. Nearly a dozen bags of trash and large items, including a mattress, three arm chairs, and pick-up truck cap were cleared from the edge of the Musconetcong River at a popular fishing access point in Bloomsbury, NJ.
The Congressman then reconvened at the Historic Asbury Mill with local organizations, including the MWA, CDRW, and Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation to discuss funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance recreational access and educational signage throughout the watershed. The Earth Day celebration was opened by a prayer and song by Turtle Clan Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Lenape, whose homelands encompass much of northern New Jersey.
“The theme of this moment is preserving the history,” said Congressman Malinowski. “I’m very happy to be part of the announcement today of a federal grant from the Fish and Wildlife Service that's going to enable us to restore some of the Ramapough history to the trails around the watershed. The signs and interpretive history, so that people who come and walk along this beautiful river, learn something about the people who lived here for generations in the past.”
The project, titled “Linking up the Landscape,” will bring together recreational experiences and learning opportunities about the region’s significant resources, by developing online maps, an interpretive plan, and communications materials highlighting the natural, cultural, historic and prehistoric sites along the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail.
“We're thrilled that the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund has funded Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) for their “Linking Up the Landscape” project. The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed worked with Congressional allies on the 2016 passage of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which subsequently created the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund to provide restoration and conservation funding to combat critical issues like habitat degradation, invasive species, and degraded water quality,” said Kelly Knutson, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “Funded projects like these will contribute to long-term outcomes for climate resiliency, healthy habitat, and a thriving outdoor economy. We appreciate Congressman Malinowski, the Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation, and MWA and their partnership and leadership on providing equitable access to nature.”
In addition to online resources, the project links several MWA projects together by expanding the Musconetcong Educational Trail into a loop linking over 200 acres of state-owned wildlife management area, the MWA’s demonstration native plant gardens, the Historic Asbury Mill, and the Musconetcong Island Park. The partnership with the Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation will allow the trail’s signage to be in both English and Lenape.
“It won’t be just about the wildlife here,” said Alan Hunt, Director of Policy and Grants, Musconetcong Watershed Association. “It will be about the people, and we’ll be using the Lenape language in land acknowledgements. I can’t think of anywhere else where you can have bilingual signs like that.”
“The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act enabled these on the ground projects,” said Hunt. “For us, it’s a way to reach more people, build more partnerships, and it’s really about restorative justice in acknowledging the traditional people who have always been here.” In addition, to keep visitors safe on the Musconetcong Watershed National Water Trail, the MWA will be installing a portage at the Historic Asbury Mill dam to improve recreational boater safety.
Sections of the Musconetcong are designated as a Partnership National Wild and Scenic River, which provides federal protections that are managed in partnership with local entities. The Musconetcong River is managed in partnership through the Musconetcong River Management Council, which is comprised of counties and municipalities where the river flows as well as local non-profit organizations, including the Musconetcong Watershed Association, which acts as the River Administrator for the Council.
The Musconetcong River Management Council has been working in partnership with Holland Township, Hunterdon County, and Pohatcong Township, Warren County to get the lowest section of the river designated as Wild and Scenic, following recent dam removal projects.
“Including the lower section of the Musconetcong River in its Wild and Scenic designation means it’s always going to be preserved,” said Malinowski. “The Musconetcong River is always going to be here. It’s never going to go away. In fact, it can only get better.” The National Wild and Scenic Rivers system was established by Congress to preserve nationally-significant free-flowing rivers and educate the public on their significance.
MWA Mission: The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the Musconetcong River and its Watershed, including its natural and cultural resources.
About the CDRW: The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed protects and restores the land and waters in the Delaware River Basin. We amplify the collective power of 175+ member organizations and other stakeholders as we advocate for a healthy and protected watershed with an inclusive, unified voice. The Coalition convenes member and non-member organizations, builds capacity, coordinates communications, and advances policy at the federal and state levels.
About the Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation: The Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, of the Ramapough Lenape (state-recognized) to advance and promote Lenape culture.