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Anti-war groups plan rallies Saturday
By Adam Schreck and Valerie Reitman
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Emboldened by the Democratic takeover of Congress and shrinking public support for the Iraq war, anti-war groups are planning what they hope will be a massive protest Saturday on the National Mall.
Similar events are planned in dozens of cities across the United States, with some of the largest expected in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Organizers said they aim to put pressure on the White House and Congress to end the war.
``The message will be `Mr. President, bring our troops home,' '' said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Santa Rosa, one of several politicians, activists and actors scheduled to speak in Washington.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, director of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, one of the rally sponsors, is also scheduled to appear on the Mall, organizers said, as are Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and actors Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.
``We're predicting this will be one of the largest demonstrations since the war began,'' said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, the umbrella group organizing the Washington protest.
About 300 buses with protesters are traveling from more than 30 states to attend the rally, said United for Peace and Justice spokesman Hany Khalil.
Sgt. Scott Booker of the U.S. Park Police said organizers had initially requested a permit for 50,000 people on the Mall, but Khalil said Thursday that organizers are now expecting numbers to reach into the hundreds of thousands. When asked if he thought the revised estimate was realistic, Booker said, ``It's quite possible.''
The protests come at a time when polls show public support for Bush's Iraq policy and for the war are at all-time lows. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll last week found that 62 percent of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting, and one-third approved of the president's handling of the war. Three out of five respondents said they disapproved of Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 U.S. soldiers to Iraq, and about half said they wanted Congress to prevent the deployment.
Saturday's rally and march in Washington will be followed by a coordinated lobbying effort Monday to pressure lawmakers into supporting Senate and House resolutions against the deployment of additional soldiers to Iraq.
Former Rep. Tom Andrews, D-Maine, national director of Win Without War, said the rally and appeal to lawmakers are part of the ``most sophisticated and focused effort so far'' against the war.
Exploring Local Wetlands With Friends for the Marsh
Princeton Town Topics, December 20, 2006.
Five canoes and 15 kayaks set out from the Bordentown Beach last Saturday, December 16, to explore the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh from the point where Crosswicks Creek meets the Delaware River to the John A. Roebling Memorial Park some four miles upstream.
A group of around 30 paddlers showed up for the trip led by George and Leona Fluck of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey (OCSJ). The Flucks have been organizing trips like this one for a decade, most of them in the Pine Barrens, on the Batsto, Mullica, and Wading rivers, but also further afield, including a moonlight paddle of the marsh in August.
"This is a typical turnout for this popular trip," commented Ms. Fluck. "We're working on opening up Crosswicks Creek from Bordentown to New Egypt, some 26 miles. Access to the river in Anchor Thread Park in Groveville (Hamilton Township) will allow us to go further in this direction."
Having gathered at 9:30 a.m., the group was on the water by 10:15 a.m. But before we set out with the rising tide, Mr. Fluck introduced some protocol, mainly for the benefit of the five newcomers. Most of the group — members of the Friends for the Marsh and the Outdoor Club of South Jersey — were experienced paddlers. All had brought their own canoes and kayaks as there are no boat rentals in the marsh.
The first practice to note, according to Mr. Fluck, was that three blows on the whistle indicated a call for help. Even though it was an unusually mild day for the time of year, the 5 to 10 mph winds out of the west would be against us for most of the time out with crosswinds at the bend, he told us. For the 8-mile trip, as with all OCSJ outings, there would be a lead boat and an end boat.
Our route would take us from Crosswicks Creek to Watson Creek past the Bordentown Bluffs and the high banks where Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, had built his New Jersey estate. As we paddled along, a history enthusiast among the group described seeing wrecked hulls dating from the War of Independence and still visible at low tide in the flats along one of the many unnamed tidal channels that meander though the marsh and swampland. Patriots hid their boats from the British navy there. After sailing up the Delaware in pursuit and finding nothing, the British seamen had launched longboats to maneuver into the marsh to find the patriots' boats and burn them to the waterline.
The marsh is an area rich in Colonial and earlier history. Native Americans lived on the natural riches of the marsh fish and plants. On Saturday, we paddled beside cattail, teasel, rush, and 12-foot high marsh grasses, including wild rice. "In September, the red shouldered blackbirds gather to feast on the seeds," said Ms. Fluck. Earlier in the year, the marsh is a riot with spectacular displays of marigolds and purple-stemmed asters.
We saw few flowers or birds on Saturday — several red-tailed hawks wheeled above the cliff-tops, a white heron fished in the shallows, and there were mallards and the ubiquitous geese. Someone said they'd spotted a kingfisher but given the time of year, there were few of the marsh's over 200 bird species to be spotted. According to the D&R Greenway Land Trust, the marsh supports more than 850 recorded species of plants, 28 species of butterflies, 60 species of fish, 19 species of amphibians and reptiles, 237 species of resident or migratory birds, and 17 species of mammals. The Flucks reported frequent bald eagle and osprey sightings.
Interestingly enough, no ducks were seen until we reached a section of the marsh where a sign designated the area as a wildlife safety zone with no hunting allowed. Did the birds know they were safe, perhaps? December is hunting season and several hunters in camouflaged boats had taken to the water as the paddlers left Bordentown Beach. Asked about safety, Ms. Fluck reported confidently that the hunters were generally very respectful of paddlers, who generally know where the blinds are hidden.
Passing under the multiple on-ramps at an intersection of I-195 and I-295, our flotilla maneuvered between the pylons where cliff swallows build their mud nests in early summer.
As a train on the light rail service between Camden and Trenton passed, we were saluted by a friendly whistle from the driver. There's a station at Bordentown and it has been known for paddlers to bike to the station, stow their bikes, and then take to the river.
The tidal waters coming up the Delaware River raise and lower the water level in the marsh six to eight feet twice daily. At or near the full tide, there's plenty of water for recreation. At low tide, the channels narrow and much of the marsh becomes exposed mud flats. So anyone planning a trip must be sure to check the tides.
Although the tide causes the water to rise and fall, just as at the Jersey Shore, the water is fresh. The salt water line on the Delaware River is south of this point, closer to Philadelphia. At this time of year the change in water level in the marsh is about seven feet.
By noon we had arrived at the lunch spot at the John A. Roebling Memorial Park where we stopped to rest and wait for the tide to turn. It had been tough going against the wind. At one point the leaders helped us out by exchanging our canoe paddle for a kayak paddle, which improved our pace. Quite a few canoeists were using double-bladed kayak paddles in the rear.
While we waited for the change in the tide, the group's leaders, who had parked a vehicle in the park, unpacked a barbeque and set to work preparing hot dogs and veggie burgers. Having refueled there was still time for a hike to Spring Lake with its resident pair of swans. Swans are pretty territorial so there were no Canada geese to be seen on this small lake within sight of the Duck Island power station. We took the circular trail around the lake. The wind had dropped, giving the sun a chance to warm us as we walked and chatted.
"It's hard to believe we're only five minutes from Trenton," commented Kathy Westbrook as we walked along the soft path. An enthusiastic kayaker and wild life preservationist, Ms. Westbrook lives in Pennsylvania and is a social worker in Trenton. "There is so much natural beauty outside our own back door but we don't often recognize it."
Ms. Westbrook is a paddler who regularly participates in trips led by the Flucks. She was one of two individuals commended by the group on Saturday for her efforts in cleaning up the marsh.
Back at Roebling Park, the group was joined by Trenton resident Marianne Marquandt out walking her dog. Ms. Marquandt has also been doing her bit to clean up the marsh, albeit anonymously. Her volunteer efforts had not gone unnoticed by the Flucks and other paddlers, though, and the serendipitous meeting provided an opportunity for them to thank Ms. Marquandt. "We'd noticed the great job someone was doing," said Ms. Fluck. "It's nice to know who that person is and to express our appreciation; there are some very nice people out there."
Friends for the Marsh
The 1,250-acre area of the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh is the northernmost tidal and freshwater wetland on the Delaware River. Located on an ancient meander of the river, the marsh links greenways along Watson Creek, Crosswicks Creek, the D&R Canal, and the Delaware River. The area includes several parks including Roebling, North Community Park and the D&R Canal State Park.
About 1,200 species of plants and animals — some rare in New Jersey such as the map Turtle and the Northern brown snake — have been identified in the varied tidal and non-tidal habitats, of river, lake, tidal channel, temporary pool, and beaver pond.
For more information about the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh, including a listing of tide times for Bordentown Beach, visit www.marsh-friends.org.
Outdoor Club of South Jersey
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, OCSJ is the largest canoeing/kayaking club in New Jersey with over 300 water events each year in addition to other outdoor activities such as bicycling, hiking, and camping. The club's "leave no trace" policy encourages its over 2200 members to "take only photographs, and leave only footprints."
While the club's home base is the Pine Barrens, destinations for trips have ranged as far as New Hampshire and Georgia. In December, members of the group walked at Pointe Breeze, the site of Joseph Bonaparte's home in Bordentown, and paddled the Wading River, Cedar Creek, and the North branch of the Rancocas.
On Thursday, December 21, the Flucks will lead a Winter Solstice paddle on the Wading River and will kick off the New Year with a ritual January 1 Oswego Paddle. For more information, visit www.ocsj.org
"Operation River Bright" 2006
sanctioned event. The cleanups would not be viable without the help of the
National Canoe Safety Patrol - Lower Delaware Chapter. In
particular, George and Leona Fluck of
Piney Paddlers fame have provided invaluable service to these
cleanups. This year, George has put considerable time into the
planning of special methods to get trash from Hendricks Island to
the dumpster at Virginia Forrest Recreational access. The
implementation of these plans should prove to be interesting, since
it involves setting up zip lines and creating a barge or two.
THE WORLD AS A VILLAGE OF A HUNDRED PEOPLE
Let us not be stopped by that which divides us but look for that which unites us
If we could reduce the world's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:
5 US Americans and Canadians
8 Latin Americans
49 would be female
51 would be male
82 would be non-white
33 would be Christian
67 would be non-Christian
5 would control 32% of the entire world's wealth, and all of >them would be US citizens
80 would live in substandard housing
24 would not have any electricity
(And of the 76% that do have electricity, most would only use it >for light at night.)
67 would be unable to read
1 (only one) would have a college education.
50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
33 would be without access to a safe water supply
1 would have HIV
1 near death
2 would be near birth
7 people would have access to the Internet
If to take a look at the world from this condensed perspective,
the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes evident.
Think of it!
If you woke up this morning with more health than sickness,
you are luckier than the million that will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced a war,
loneliness of an imprisonment,
an agony of tortures
or a famine
You are happier than 500 million persons in this world.
If you are able to go to church, mosque or synagogue without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death,
you are happier, than 3 billion persons in this world.
If there is a meal in your refrigerator,
if you are dressed and have got shoes
if you have a bed and a roof above your head,
you are better off, than 75% of people in this world.
If your parents are still alive and still married,
then you are a rarity.
If you have a bank account,
money in your purse
and there is some trifle in your coin box,
you belong to 8% of well-provided people in this world.
If you read this text, you are blessed three times as much, because
Someone has thought of you;
You do not belong to those 2 billion people which cannot read
and... you have had a computer!
Someone has told once:
Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
Dance like nobody's watching,
Sing like nobody's listening,
Be surprised, like you were born yesterday,
Tell the truth and you don't have to remember anything,
Live like it's Heaven on Earth.
This is your World!
And you are able to make changes!
Hasten to do good works!
Think of it!
Tribal group assails man's casino bid
By RICHARD PEARSALL
and TIM ZATZARINY Jr.
The Bridgeton man trying to obtain land in South Jersey for an Indian casino came under blistering attack Wednesday from his fellow Native Americans, who accused him of misrepresenting himself as a tribal chief.
"He's self-proclaimed, " said Lewis Pierce Jr., the chairman of the state's Commission on American Indian Affairs, speaking of James Brent Thomas Sr.
Thomas contends he is chief of the Unalachtigo Band of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape.
"No process made him chief," Pierce said.
Mark Gould, chief of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, noted that Thomas has a criminal record, alluding to the year Thomas spent in prison in the early 1990s for his role in an insurance fraud.
Thomas said Wednesday that he is "saddened that my cousins would raise an issue from so long ago when clearly it's time for straight talk between serious people."
The leaders of all the tribes that comprise the Indian affairs commission said at Wednesday's commission meeting at the State House that they are irrevocably opposed to casino gambling itself as well as Thomas' attempt to capitalize on it.
"We're not interested in gaming at all," said the Rev. John Norwood, who identified himself as a member of the "real Nanticoke Lenni Lenape."
"While it has created an economic boom for some, it has undermined the social and cultural and spiritual integrity of many tribes," Norwood said.
Thomas filed suit in U.S. District Court in Camden last month, claiming on behalf of the Unalachtigo Band the former Brotherton Reservation, a Colonial-era reservation in what is now Shamong.
In lieu of that largely populated tract, Thomas told the court, his group would accept the 1,200-acre Rancocas State Park in Westampton, as well as a similar-sized tract of ground in Bergen County.
On Wednesday tribal leaders marveled at the publicity Thomas has garnered with his suit and his ability to file it on his own.
They vowed to draft a statement setting forth their opposition to casino gambling in general and Thomas in particular and to do a better job getting their own message out in the future.
"We have to be as aggressive as he is," said Autumn Wind Scott, a representative of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, a North Jersey group.
Thomas spent a year in state prison after he was caught in an elaborate scheme to dispose of a limousine he had purchased with the intention of starting his own business in 1989.
When the business didn't pan out, Thomas hired his brother-in-law, Eugene Mitchell, to dispose of the vehicle so he could collect on a $65,000 insurance policy, according to prosecutors.
In a bizarre twist, somebody else stole the limousine before Mitchell could deliver it to a chop shop. The limousine was later found abandoned and severely damaged by fire.
Thomas filed an insurance claim on the vehicle, but Mitchell was arrested soon after and confessed the plot to police.
In August 1990, Thomas pleaded guilty in Superior Court in Cumberland County to one count each of conspiracy to commit theft by deception and attempted theft by deception. He was sentenced to three years in state prison and was released after serving one year.
Thomas' lawsuit is not the first expression of interest in the Brotherton Reservation as a site for an Indian casino.
In the late 1990s, the Delaware Tribe, now based in Oklahoma, was reported to be exploring the possibility of claiming the land, but apparently did not follow through.
In both cases, the claim rests on a contention that the Indians' 1801 agreement of sale with New Jersey was never ratified by Congress and is thus invalid.
Reach Richard Pearsall at
(856) 486-2465 or
Trail opens the Rancocas to leisurely paddling
The North Branch has become easier to reach and navigate.
Inquirer Staff Writer
Rancocas Creek has been a people magnet for a long time.
A sawmill dammed the North Branch in 1776, beginning a lake that is now the centerpiece of Historic Smithville Park.
American Indians are believed to have lived along the Rancocas for 10,000 years, relying on its many tributaries for food and trade - they could canoe from the Pinelands all the way out to the Delaware River.
"Paddling there is such a spiritual experience because of the Leni-Lenape," said Leona Fluck, a trip leader for the Outdoor Club of South Jersey. "I almost feel like I can sense them in the forest around us."
Canoeing or kayaking the Rancocas had long been limited to those with experience or in the know. Getting to the creek was hard; most of it ran through private or inaccessible territory. On the water, downed trees were constant obstacles.
Suddenly, that has changed.
The county this week opened a 14-mile "canoe trail" - a series of short, placid creek segments ideal for novices and families. Access ramps (and a creekside rest area) are marked; tree limbs, cleared. New maps show the route, from Burlington County College's Pemberton campus downstream to Mount Holly.
A brief run toward the college from Clark's Canoe Rentals on Sunday afternoon found far more turtles (at least a dozen) perched on logs than people (two) in boats. Even with water levels 21/2 to 3 feet below normal, a canoe with three people never touched bottom. The current was imperceptible (but the return took half the time).
The North Branch near Pemberton Borough is perhaps 30 to 50 feet wide, its banks dotted with small coves created over the years when long-gone dams or the creek's ancient wanderings flooded adjacent flatlands. Narrow openings covered with branches between the main channel and some of the coves pose brief duck-and-pull challenges for explorers.
The third cove east of the bridge, known as Icehouse Cove - the locals named nearly a dozen of them - is one that can be reached if you hold onto your hat. With luck, you may spot the great blue heron that lives there with her chick.
This is Jeff Kerchner's favorite stretch. The county parks superintendent thinks it's the prettiest, especially in the fall. It also was the easiest to make family-friendly - the main addition was an access ramp behind the college - and get his plan for a Rancocas Creek Canoe Trail "off the ground as quickly as possible."
Within a year or so, he hopes to expand the trail east to Mirror Lake, near the Ocean County line, and west to Rancocas State Park. (The North and South Branches join in the state park; from there to the Delaware is a risky combination of strong tides and heavy motorboat traffic.)
Kerchner's goal is access points or rest areas with picnic tables and portable restrooms every two hours along the full 23-mile trail. He envisions another trail on the South Branch, where habitat created by gentle tides attracts bald eagles and other migratory birds.
The park system has been built from scratch since the county freeholders decided five years ago that the considerable but farther-flung state parks and forests were no longer enough.
Three new or expanded parks have opened in the last year along the Rancocas - the waterway "gives a lot of identity to the county," Kerchner says - and two more will come in the next year. Eventually, a bike path will follow the creek from the Delaware River to Lebanon State Forest in the Pinelands.
On Monday, 11 canoers, kayakers and a beagle lunched at creekside picnic tables in a new area of Historic Smithville Park. Trip leaders Leona and George Fluck are used to sawing through or slogging around 10 to 15 fallen trees along the route. This time, the only mandatory stops were brief portages around the two dams.
The spreading "canoe-trail" concept - make it easy, and they will come - meshes well with the Flucks' vision.
The retired executives are driven to build environmental awareness by getting people out into the environment, a goal they have pursued with a vengeance via beginner trainings, trips and advice given through the Outdoor Club and their own Piney Paddlers site on the Web.
"It's active. It gets you out there," said George, 64, a serious canoeist for just eight years. "And you can paddle in your 80s and 90s."
Coming Up on Rancocas Creek
Sponsored by Burlington County (609-265-5068):
Oct. 16: Fall Foliage Family Float, Historic Smithville Park to Mt. Holly. Launches 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; canoes provided free.
Sponsored by Outdoor Club of South Jersey (856-767-2780):
Thursday: South Branch, round trip with the tide from Flo's Tavern in Hainesport, 11 a.m.
Oct. 8: North Branch, Greenwood Bridge to Pemberton Borough, 9 a.m.
Oct. 13: South Branch, round trip with the tide, 10 a.m.
Oct. 22: North Branch, Pemberton Borough to Mt. Holly, 9 a.m.
For details of the above trips, plus maps, canoe rentals and festivals along the Rancocas, go to http://go.philly.com/Rancocas
Volunteers wade in to clean riverside
Groups coordinate efforts to eliminate debris from flood.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
By LINDA LISANTI
With plastic bags in hand, more than 75 people took to the Delaware River on Tuesday to clean up debris left behind from April's raging flood waters.
The volunteers from the Delaware River Greenway Partnership, New Jersey Youth Corps and the National Canoe Safety Patrol took part in Operation River Bright.
On land and in canoes, the group traversed a nine-mile stretch of the Delaware River from Phillipsburg to Riegelsville picking up litter from the riverbanks and islands.
Some of the sites they hit were Eddyside Park in Easton, Wy-Hit-Tuk Park in Williams Township and the Phillipsburg boat ramp.
"If we don't do it, who knows who's going to do it?" said Fransheska Murillo, a New Jersey Youth Corps member from Elizabeth, N.J.
While cleaning up, Murillo said she saw a lot of wildlife, including ducks and fish.
"They could die from this stuff," she added.
The cleanup was spearheaded by the New Jersey Youth Corps headquarters in Trenton.
The Youth Corps is a statewide program that helps school dropouts to earn their General Educational Development degree and learn employment and life skills. Students spend half their days in academic instruction and the other half doing community service work.
Youth Corps members from Phillipsburg, Elizabeth, Paterson, Newark, Trenton and Plainfield assisted in the river cleanup.
Elizabeth's coordinator Dorothy Vence said the different Youth Corps groups try to do projects together a couple times a year.
"This is our community," Vence said. "We all live in this state and the Delaware River is a major thoroughfare."
The Phillipsburg Youth Corps building at 2 Riverside Way was one of the worst hit during April's flood. It was nearly submerged.
The building had just reopened five months earlier after taking on more than six feet of water during September's flood.
Phillipsburg Youth Corps Director Michael Muckle said Tuesday that the group has yet to move back into the building, which sustained about $50,000 worth of damage in April, but hopes to do so by the end of next month.
In the interim, it has been operating out of the Firth Youth Center in town.
Muckle said it's amazing how fast the river bounces back, but what's been left behind is not as pleasant. He said pieces of their former picnic tables are still lodged in trees.
Aside from helping the environment, he said the cleanup also gets the students thinking that the world is bigger than where they live.
"This one small event will have far-reaching effects," Muckle said.
Reporter Linda Lisanti can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Operation River Bright Attacks Litter Blight
Thanks to the efforts of over sixty volunteers and staff members from the Delaware River Greenway Partnership, New Jersey Youth Corps, and National Canoe Safety Patrol, the Delaware River between Phillipsburg, NJ and Riegelsville, PA is a lot cleaner.
On Tuesday, July 26 -- a scorching hot summer day -- NJ Youth Corps members in twenty canoes and two land crews cleaned up islands, riverbanks, and the public river access sites on both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sides of the Delaware River. Hank Snyder and Lazy River Adventures of Phillipsburg donated the canoes, equipment and transportation. Six volunteers from the National Canoe Safety Patrol provided instruction, safety and rescue services.
“Operation River Bright” is an annual river cleanup started several years ago by the Delaware River Greenway Partnership to rid the river of unsightly trash and litter. Hurricane Ivan forced cancellation of the September 2004 cleanup, and the April 2005 flood left behind enormous amounts of trash and litter, some of it suspended 30 feet above the river as a testament to the third highest flood crest ever recorded on the Delaware River.
The Delaware River Greenway Partnership is planning a second “Operation River Bright” for Saturday, September 24. This event, to be sanctioned by the American Canoe Association, will be expanded downriver to Washington Crossing and include several more local organizations, student groups and river rescue organizations.
For more information about the September “Operation River Bright” call the Delaware River Greenway Partnership at 908-996-0230 or visit www.drgp.org.
Sunday, July 3, 2005
to push off in a canoe and explore
By MICHAEL T. BURKHART
David Carbonara pondered his rented canoe and took out a measuring tape, checking to see whether the box containing provisions for a weekend away from civilization would fit between the seats.
With less than an inch to spare, the big blue box slid into place. That was a good thing, because Carbonara and his two children, 12-year-old Nicky and 9-year-old Laura, needed the food, water and tent for their overnight Pine Barrens adventure.
There are many places to paddle a canoe or kayak in South Jersey - from the Cooper River in Camden County to the wilds of the Batsto River in the Pines.
The Father's Day paddle down the Mullica River with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance was Carbonara's second year on the annual outing.
Along with about 30 others, they started near Atsion Lake and finished downstream the next afternoon.
"We canoed for two days last year and didn't see a car," said Carbonara, 46, of Marlton. "We'll do the trip every year as long as I can get my two children to do it."
Those in the know say it's a good idea for beginners to head out the first few times with experienced paddlers or on a group trip. They also can contact canoe and kayak rental companies to inquire about mass outings, which usually include a shuttle ride to and from the put-in and take-out.
"In case you capsize, it's nice to know there are people ahead of you or behind you who can give you a hand," said Russell Juelg, who leads the Pinelands Alliance trip.
The Rancocas Creek and the Cooper River can be paddled and offer flat stretches for beginners, but the Pinelands rivers - such as the Maurice, Batsto and Mullica - can't be topped for scenery. There's no white water there, but navigating the sharp bends and fallen trees can be tricky.
While the Pinelands rivers look calm, many stretches have swift currents. Paddlers are constantly on the lookout for "stringers" or underwater branches, which can be tough to see in the murky water.
Bob Cabanas and his 12-year-old son, Ramon, of Pemberton Borough, went on the weekend Pinelands trip.
"I just want to get out of the house," said Ramon, who also planned to try some fishing.
Busy schedules keep Cabanas, 50, a dentist, and his son from getting away as often as they like.
"We're looking to do some father-son bonding," he said, "and get some exercise."
There are a surprising number of animals in the Pinelands, including birds, turtles, frogs, deer and muskrat.
"There's also a lot of beautiful vegetation," said Juelg, who also leads the popular Jersey Devil hunts for the alliance. "If you have an interest in botany or wild flowers, you never get bored."
A good paddle along the Rancocas Creek is the north branch between New Lisbon and Mount Holly. Burlington County is working on creating put-in and take-out spots along the creek. Portions of the Rancocas are tidal, so the trip can be tough if you are going against the tide.
In Camden County, the Cooper River can be paddled, especially through Cooper River Park. And portions of the Delaware River and the Delaware & Raritan Canal in the Lambertville area also can be traversed.
A bit to the south is the Brandywine River in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and the Chester River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Brandywine has some swift sections, but the Chester is flat as glass.
Getting your oar wet
For people who don't have a buddy to teach them paddling basics, there is help available.
On Wednesday evenings, the Outdoor Club of South Jersey offers free informal canoe and kayak lessons at Lake Lenape in Mays Landing, said Frank Pearce, who helps plan club trips. Lessons can be customized to ability levels.
Pearce, 60, who has been paddling since 1988, said the best Pinelands trip for novices is the Wading River. He adds some of the best trips for scenery are the Oswego and the Mullica rivers.
Folks on the Pinelands Alliance trips also will help novices, said Carleton Montgomery, the group's executive director.
"It's OK as long as you come in with the right frame of mind," he said. "Because the water moves slowly, it's not a scary white-water experience."
Hartley Tucker, 77, has been paddling in the Pinelands for 20 years. Still active with the South Jersey Canoe Club, Tucker helps schedule trips for the group.
His first canoe was purchased at a department store closeout sale at the urging of his daughter.
While there is no white water in South Jersey, many stretches of river are primitive, providing a thrill for even seasoned paddlers.
"Each river has a personality," said the retired IRS agent from Vineland. "There's something different about each one."
In the Pinelands, people should only go out in groups, so there are enough paddlers on hand to help right the craft in case of a spill, said Tucker. Medical emergencies and crop up and thick mud can be tough.
"People should not take the wilderness lightly," he said. "Bad things can happen out there."
CANOE SAFETY TIPS
Stay low and do not stand up or walk in the canoe when you are away from shore.
Always wear a life jacket. It's not only a safety factor, it's the law in New Jersey.
Avoid sudden or jerky movement. Rocking from side to side could cause the canoe to tip over.
Be aware of currents in the water.
Always sit on the seats or in the center of the canoe. Sitting on the side of a canoe will cause it to tip over.
Stay away from low hanging trees and branches near the shore.
Do not canoe in bad weather.
If your canoe tips over, stay with the boat and push or paddle to shore.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources THINGS TO BRING
Always have extra clothing in a watertight container. You want to be prepared in case your canoe tips or the weather changes.
Sun protection - hats, sunscreen, long sleeves and pants.
First aid kit.
Food and water.
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ON THE WEB
www.geocities.com/southjerseycanoeclub: The South Jersey Canoe Club has no trips scheduled for the summer, but check the Web site in August for the fall and winter schedule.
www.ocsj.org: The Outdoor Club of South Jersey has hiking, biking and nature tours. It also offers free Wednesday evening canoe lessons at Lake Lenape.
www.pinelandsalliance.org: The Pinelands Preservation Alliance has another canoe trip on July 9, where Pinelands rivers will be explored. Check out the web site or call 609-859-8860 for details, including how to register.
Check the Web site regularly to find future trips.
www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests There is paddling in many of New Jersey's state forests and parks. Check out this Web site for more information.
Reach Michael T. Burkhart at (856) 486-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Plastic 'bridge of the future' spans Mullica
First recycled plastic bridge in N.J. opens to traffic
Life jackets a requirement for children while boating
AREA - More and more families are paddling down the Passaic River this summer.
Successful Delaware River Sojourn!
Nature smiled kindly on the Delaware Sojourn and its sojourners!
The rains that had deluged the Juniata River and Schuylkill River
Sojourns was gone. The upper
Delaware levels were fairly high on Day 1 & 2 so a combination of rafts,
canoes and kayaks floated down the river from Callicoon to Minisink Ford.
Days 3 and 4 brought the sojourners through the spectacular beauty of the
Delaware Water Gap. On Days 5
& 6, sojourners paddled the Lower Delaware from Upper Black Eddy to
Washington Crossing, learned about a land preservation effort in Tinicum
Township and enjoyed Native American stories and music at night.
The final 2 days of the sojourn brought paddlers into the tidal section of the Delaware, an interesting and special experience for all of us. On Day 7 we paddled from Neshaminy State Park to Palmyra Nature Cove with a stop at the Riverside Marina for a delicious lunch at Paradise Port. On Day 8 we sailed from Penns Landing on the North Wind. George & Leona Fluck were honored as Lord and Lady Admiral on Day 8.