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Anti-war groups plan rallies Saturday

By Adam Schreck and Valerie Reitman
Los Angeles Times


Slogans for Rally signs.


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


Linda Arntzenius

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


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





NCSP-LDC Supports

"Operation River Bright" 2006

WE NEED YOU - For the War on Trash
Saturday September 16 and Saturday, September 23
Rain or Shine

Project River Bright was created in the late 1990's by Carrie Brownholtz, formerly of Telford PA, for the Delaware River Greenway Partnership. I helped out as a safety officer for all of those events, which from a safety standpoint, were most decidedly understaffed. Carrie left for Oklahoma to live with the Delaware Indians and I took over River Bright in 2003. My first cleanup was wiped out by Hurricane Ivan, first of three consecutive flood events.

Two years ago Major George Paffendorf (US Army Ret.) of the NJ Youth Corps came up with the moniker "Operation River Bright." I liked the military sounding version of River Bright, because in a way we are waging war on trash, and despite our best efforts there has never been more ugly trash in this beautiful river, thanks to the July '06 flood and -- lest we forget -- the sources of the trash, which would be the people who live near and/or recreate in the river and its urbanized tributaries.

The untold story of the recent flood is the incredible influx of manmade trash that has been carried into the river from storm drains, streets, roadside ditches and tributary streams from places as far away as Hackettstown, NJ, Hancock NY, and Lehighton, PA. Trash from everywhere upstream in the watershed ends up down here in the Delaware River, and what doesn’t get hung up here continues down to the bay.

I suspect that the existence of this trash in and along the river and its islands presents a greater threat to the ecological health of the river than any of the other usual suspects including waste water treatment facilities and polluted runoff. In particular, plastic trash is now found everywhere, especially beverage containers, but also tarps, and construction and silt fences.

According to an article that appeared in Waste Management World, each day in the US more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. Most end up in landfills or incinerators, and millions litter our streets, parks and waterways. Anyone who travels down the Delaware River will not have any difficulty believing these statistics.

Over the next two Saturdays heavily armed armadas will sweep the river banks and islands between Riegelsville and Stockton looking for trash and manmade debris. Our number one priority will be anything that is plastic. But we also expect to collect propane and gasoline tanks, Styrofoam objects, tires, glass containers and odd objects such as dolls, bowling balls, and toilet seats, etc.

The Operation River Bright is an American Canoe Association

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.

A report on this weekend's Hendrick Island cleanup will appear early next week.





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:

60 Asians

12 Europeans

5 US Americans and Canadians

8 Latin Americans

14 Africans

49 would be female

51 would be male

82 would be non-white

18 white

89 heterosexual

11 homosexual

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


Courier-Post Staff



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
Published: January 19. 2006 3:00AM



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.

Why paddling?

"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




Volunteers wade in to clean riverside


Groups coordinate efforts to eliminate debris from flood.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


The Express-Times


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



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




Sunday, July 3, 2005

South Jersey has no shortage of scenic places

to push off in a canoe and explore


Courier-Post Staff


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."




  • 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.


  • Life vests.


  • Map.


    Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ON THE WEB


  • 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.


  • The Outdoor Club of South Jersey has hiking, biking and nature tours. It also offers free Wednesday evening canoe lessons at Lake Lenape.


  • 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.


  •  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







    Plastic 'bridge of the future' spans Mullica


    USA - State officials yesterday formally dedicated what some people are calling the bridge of the future: a 46-foot structure made entirely of recycled coffee cups, detergent bottles and other plastics.

    SHAMONG - State officials yesterday formally dedicated what some people are calling the bridge of the future: a 46-foot structure made entirely of recycled coffee cups, detergent bottles and other plastics. 

    The bridge spans the Mullica River at the border of Burlington and Camden counties in Wharton State Forest.

    "This bridge is a great example of the opportunities that are out there" to make use of recycled materials, said Joseph Seebode, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Site Remediation and Waste Management Office.

    During the dedication ceremony, the state named the bridge after the late Richard Renfree, one of two Rutgers University professors who devised a method to make lumber out of recycled plastic.

    Renfree, a Union County resident, died from cancer over the summer at the age of 50. He and fellow professor Tom Nosker spent years developing the structural material used to make the 30,000-pound bridge.

    The bridge was built in November 2002. It took 11 days to construct. 

    Although the cost of the span has not been disclosed, Nosker said a bridge made out of this material would be less expensive than one of wood.

    The one-lane bridge is made of two types of plastic: high-density polyethylene and polystyrene. High-density polyethylene is used to make milk jugs and detergent bottles. Polystyrene is used to make coffee cups and packing peanuts.

    The two plastics are heated at about 400 degrees and mixed, then pushed into a mold, where the mixture solidifies and shrinks to size. Carbon black pigments are added to the mixture to create a uniform color and to slow down the deteriorating effect that ultraviolet light from the sun has on plastic.

    Even though it is at least twice as light as wood, the plastic bridge is designed to bear up to 36 tons, Nosker said. 

    Nosker said the bridge is more environmentally friendly than its wood counterparts because it does not leach chemicals like pressure-treated wood.

    "This is the right thing to do in New Jersey," he said. "New Jersey has the highest density of people and the highest density of garbage. We need better answers and more people to work on better answers, and this is one of them."

    The bridge replaced a wooden structure destroyed in a fire several years ago. 

    N.J. Bridge Puts Recycled Plastic to Unusual Use 

    10/12/2003 - NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., USA
    A plastic bridge sounds like something that belongs in Legoland. But in southern New Jersey's Pine Barrens, a 56-foot-long bridge crafted from recycled soda bottles, coffee cups and similar refuse has been carrying traffic over the Mullica River for more than a year. 

    Although the Rutgers University scientists who invented the novel plastic material used to build the one-lane bridge acknowledge that their technology is not yet ready for use on heavily traveled spans, such as those in the interstate highway system, they say plastic has quickly exceeded their expectations as a bridge-building material. 

    Most notably, they say, their plastic is already technically and economically competitive with wood, which is used in more than half a million bridges in the United States today. 

    As long ago as the mid-1970s, the Federal Highway Administration began encouraging and funding research into bridges with decks made of lighter, yet equally strong, fiber-reinforced plastic composites. These systems, often made of glass fibers and polyester or vinyl-based resins, are still in use, FHWA engineers say. The bridges developed by Rutgers, by contrast, represent a breakthrough: They are plastic through and through. 

    "I don't know that this is interstate bridge material at this point, and I don't know whether or not it will ever be, but it's perfect for replacing smaller wood bridges," said Richard G. Lampo, a materials engineer at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center in Champaign, Ill. Lampo, who has advised the Rutgers team, said he recently visited the New Jersey bridge and was impressed with how the structure was holding up. 

    Thomas J. Nosker and Richard W. Renfree, the Rutgers engineers, came up with their plastic unexpectedly. They had been experimenting with two common kinds of plastic: high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is used to make such items as milk containers and detergent bottles; and polystyrene, which is commonly used in coat hangers and disposable eating utensils. 

    Neither material alone is suitable for making bridges. HDPE is not stiff enough, and polystyrene, while stiffer, is too brittle. At the time the two researchers were doing their experiments, nothing suggested that the combination of these two plastics would make a more promising material. 

    But Nosker and Renfree found that one combination -- 65 percent HDPE and 35 percent polystyrene -- worked unexpectedly well. With the help of Washington and Lee University engineer Kenneth Van Ness, the Rutgers team figured out why. It turned out that the polystyrene, when added to a cooling batch of HDPE in the proper proportion, fills the voids in HDPE's sponge-like structure and stiffens the material considerably. 

    Though Nosker and Renfree made this discovery in 1988, their finding attracted little attention for almost a decade. But they persevered, and around 1996, they began to zero in on bridge construction as the most promising application. 

    In 1999, Nosker and Renfree oversaw construction of a part-plastic, part-steel bridge in Missouri and, two years later, of a part-plastic, part-fiberglass bridge in New York. Then, around Thanksgiving of 2002, they completed the bridge over the Mullica. Unlike its two predecessors, the Mullica bridge was made entirely of plastic, except for zinc-coated steel fasteners and the wooden piles, which were still in place from the bridge's wooden predecessor. 

    Building the 36-foot-long bridge, plus 10-foot abutments on each side, was so easy that it took "11 days for three PhDs, one maintenance guy and a few helpers to do it," Nosker says. The price tag, paid by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, was $75,000 -- far less, transportation experts told Nosker at the time, than the $350,000 a conventional wood bridge might have cost. And the plastic bridge has the added bonus of safely and creatively disposing of solid waste. 

    The New Jersey bridge, they say, weighs half or less of what an equivalent wood or metal-and-concrete bridge would weigh -- the plastic logs even float -- yet it is just as strong, they say. 

    Plastic is also safer for the environment, Nosker says. Wood used in construction is typically treated with chemicals that keep insects away, but many states have banned some commonly used treatments because of concerns that they contribute to environmental pollution. 

    In addition, plastic does not have to be cut from irregularly sized logs into precise shapes. It can be easily molded into any form desired. 

    Plastic also needs less maintenance than wood, metal or concrete. Bugs have no interest in eating plastic beams, and plastic does not need to be painted. 

    For the New Jersey bridge, an Edison, N.J.-based company called Polywood Inc. -- a licensee of the Nosker-Renfree technology -- created I-beams. 

    The big question is how well plastic bridges will stand up to years of traffic, said Myint Lwin, director of the federal Office of Bridge Technology. "There is no credible, currently available way to predict 50 to 75 years of structural performance from short-term material test data. The most reliable method now available to predict performance over the long term is the straightforward -- and slow -- method of constructing a bridge made from the material and monitoring its condition over its service life." 

    That said, the FHWA "sees a tremendous market potential" for new bridge-building materials that involve plastics, Lwin said. The agency's Innovative Bridge Research and Construction Program has sponsored 44 other projects involving experimental plastic composite bridge-deck systems. 

    The professors and Polywood are encouraged by the modest success of the company's plastic railroad-tie business. While plastic ties account for less than half of 1 percent of railroad ties in use nationally, sales to railroads and transit agencies have been growing in recent years. 

    For the company, the Mullica River bridge was a key advance, since it demonstrated that plastic bridges can be cheaper than wood bridges. "Breaking into a 100-year-old industry takes a while," said Marc Green, Polywood's chief financial officer. 

    By Louis Jacobson
    Special to The Washington Post
    Monday, December 8, 2003; Page A09 




    First recycled plastic bridge in N.J. opens to traffic 

    Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/09/04

    SHAMONG -- In its original form, this would have made one big mess in the woods: around 250,000 plastic milk and juice jugs, plus more than three times as many foam plastic coffee cups.

    But recycled, blended and molded into massive black girders and planks, those throw-away containers were made into New Jersey's first all-plastic vehicle bridge, strong enough to support a 36-ton fire truck crossing the upper Mullica River.

    Rutgers researchers gathered near Atsion in Wharton State Forest Thursday to dedicate the bridge for Richard Renfree, a Rutgers scientist who worked on the project before his death earlier this year. Now there's an initiative in Shore communities to find other applications for the heavy-duty plastic as beach walkway material, bulkheading and docks.

    The new-generation structural polymer plastic, developed by the Rutgers Center for Advanced Materials via Immiscible Polymer Processing, or AMIPP, is produced by Edison-based Polywood. The synthetic lumber is also being used as boardwalk material in Long Branch, said Jennifer Lynch, a research assistant at the Rutgers center.

    Plastic recycling technology from Rutgers has been used in earlier projects, such as a small bridge built by Army engineers in 1998 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. However, that project retained older steel supports for the underlying span.

    The Atsion bridge is among a new generation of designs that use plastic in their major structural members as well as the roadway decking. Started in 2001, the project's decking was completed last year and Thursday's ceremonies included attachment of a commemorative plaque, noting the span's place in engineering history.

    Shore communities could see more of this material used in beach walkways and docks, instead of the pressure-treated lumber that's been an industry standard for decades. The polymer is highly resistant to weathering and the sun's ultraviolet radiation, and "accelerated weathering" tests in the laboratory indicate the material should survive outdoors for at least 50 years, Lynch said.

    Moreover, the plastic lumber won't leach harmful chemicals into soil or water, she added.

    "It's perfect for this location because it's not going to damage anything," Lynch said. "It's resistant to mildew, insects, or any kind of termite or marine worm."

    Bridge projects near freshwater wetlands, such as an access road to Ocean County College in Dover Township, have required use of expensive tropical hardwoods. Environmental regulators are reluctant to approve treated lumber in places where they think chemicals that preserve the wood may also harm aquatic organisms.

    Rutgers experts formulated the new material using two types of plastic.

    "It's high-density polyethylene, like you see in milk jugs and detergent bottles," Lynch explained. "The second phase is polystyrene, like foam coffee cups and plastic eating utensils."

    Polystyrene's rigid form is also well-known to anyone who's glued together scale model airplane kits. For Rutgers experts, the technical challenge lay in combining polyethylene's resistance to breaking with polystryrene's qualities of hardness.

    They came up with a plastic that appears massive and dense, yet is lighter than treated lumber and competitive in cost for commercial projects. Polywood's biggest markets are in plastic railroad ties and structural components, Lynch said.

    Under the tongue-and-groove bridge deck, a frame of I-beams provide support, while the entire bridge weighs two or three times less than the traditional wood timber types used to cross Pine Barrens streams, she said. To save money, engineers built the plastic span atop cut-down pilings from an old wooden bridge, which means canoeists and kayakers on the upper Mullica need to haul their boats out and around the new one.

    The raw materials used by Polywood to make the bridge components were the equivalent of about 250,000 plastic jugs and 850,000 foam beverage cups, said Rutgers scientist Thomas Nosker. When the bridge decking was completed, it improved fire protection for the western side of the Wharton forest. Without a bridge, firefighters would need to follow nine miles of sand roads to reach the river's remote upper reaches, Lynch said.

    Kirk Moore: (732) 557-5728




    Life jackets a requirement for children while boating

    By Fred Gaghan, The Independent Press, August 11, 2004

    AREA - More and more families are paddling down the Passaic River this summer.

    They may be having fun but borough resident Fred Gaghan said they aren't always being safe.

    "I spend a lot of time paddling on the Passaic from New Providence to Berkeley Heights, I am not happy with what I see at times. I hate to see family members in a boat on the river or any waterway without every member in the boat wearing life jackets. I paddled the Passaic on July 31 and encountered two families with children not wearing life jackets," Mr. Gaghan said.

    Not only is it safer for people to wear life jackets, it's a rule that children 12 years or younger "must wear a life jacket any time they are in a boat on any waterway," he said, quoting the New Jersey State Statue 12:7-47.1.

    Boaters might recall seeing Mr. Gaghan on the river in his red hat that identifies him as a member of the National Canoe Safety Patrol, Lower Delaware Chapter. The group supports the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Fish and Game Park Rangers "to keep our waterways safe," he said.

    He is also a local volunteer fire fighter. Safety, one might say, is his business.

    "Please parents, next time you go in a boat for some family fun, make sure everyone has their life vest on and properly attached. Once you fall in the water, it is too late to grab a life vest and put it on," he said, and added, "There have been many deaths on the Delaware River and other rivers because people were not wearing life jackets."

    The National Canoe Safety Patrol, Lower Delaware Chapter provides outreach programs to schools and other organizations to support the group's goal of eliminating accidents and providing boater education.

    National Canoe Safety Patrol members patrolling the area waterways can be identified by their red hats. For additional information about Kayaking and Canoeing visit the National Canoe Safety Patrol website at .



    Project River Bright Saturday September 25, 2004:



    Project River Bright brings hundreds of volunteers together every year to remove litter from the Delaware River and its immediate surroundings. A special focus of Project River Bright is to engage students from area high schools, scout troops and other youth organizations in the river cleanup. 

    In addition to the obvious benefits derived from removing tons of litter from the river, Project River Bright instills in the participants a sense of stewardship for the Delaware River and its natural and cultural resources. The cleanup also requires the participation of dozens of volunteers from river rescue squads and emergency medical services. 

    Following the daylong river cleanup, volunteers are treated to a River Festival and cookout featuring free refreshments, live music and environmental stewardship displays.

    DRGP is seeking funding for project coordination, cleanup supplies and equipment, and food and beverages.

    The 2004 Project River Bright is scheduled for Saturday September 25 with a rain date of October 2.




    Another Successful Delaware River Sojourn!


















    Mother 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. 


    Leona Fluck