After many months of planning and organizing the Musconetcong River clean up day, Saturday, April 18th, finally arrived and was a huge success. For the first time in the history of this annual event, we were able to cover nearly the entire length of the river which begins at Lake Hopatcong and ends at the Delaware River. From Internet e-mails, press releases, local advertising, newsletter articles, and by word of mouth, the volunteer count this year was well over three hundred. One of the many changes to the clean up was a greater effort to separate out recyclables from the usual car and truck tires, car batteries, shopping carts, mattresses and box springs, indoor and outdoor furniture, plastic milk crates, clothing... etc.
Trout Unlimited representative, Brian Cowden, organized northern TU chapters to make a significant impact well above Saxton Falls, the Ernie Schwiebert and Jersey Shore TU chapters covered the lower end of the 'Musky', and Central Jersey with the help from a local cub scout troop and their parents covered all the way from Hampton Borough Park to Point Mountain. Some of our “eager beavers” continued picking up trash along Route 57 towards Hackettstown.
CJTU member and MWA trustee, Cinny MacGonagle, took charge of local volunteers and scout groups in and around the town of Bloomsbury, professor Ralston Bartholomew and students from Warren County Community College returned to the Pemwell Dam area, working their way downstream to Point Mountain and the Spruce Run Lutheran Church lead by MWA trustee, Erik Henriksen, returned in greater numbers than last year to take care of Butler Park.
Two new locations added this year were Hopatcong State Park and Stephens State Park. Boy scout leader, Gean Thayer, led troop 63 and members of a geocaching group of hide and seekers, from Stephens State Park all the way up to Stanhope. The park's superintendent, Helen Maurella, who was very familiar with this annual clean up, couldn't be more accommodating. She provided trash pickup and disposal in and around both parks. By separating out the recyclables for them it made the process easier and more rewarding.
Another first this year, was the additional help from the Mohawk Canoe Club. They arrived Sunday morning and paddled their way downstream from Hackettstown to Pemwell dam, retrieving boatloads of submerged debris.
By noon, most of the participants made their way back to the newly renovated River Resource Center, in Asbury, for cold drinks, soap and water, environmental friendly restrooms, and a good hot meal (in that order).
As I had promised, the day was fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. The overall feedback was extremely positive, due in no small part to the weather, with countless promises to return next year. Jon Burgess, a CJTU member and first time volunteer, expressed in an e-mail to me, “It was a rewarding experience for me, and I’m proud to be a member of such a worthy group, with dedicated people like you guys involved. I look forward to more volunteer work for CJTU!”