The Delaware River was named Pennsylvania's 2011 River of the Year by the PA DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization of Watersheds and Rivers (POWR). This year, there were five other nominees, and the public was asked to vote for their favorite river.
The River of the Year designation helps raise awareness of a river's attributes and its conservation needs. I like that the public votes. I think it raises awareness of everyone's watershed, because watershed associations and other community groups rally public support for their local waterways. With the Delaware in my side yard, it was a no-brainer how I voted, but I admit I am inspired to explore the other nominees (Clarion River, Conewango Creek, Kiskiminetas River, Pine Creek and Stonycreek River), because they must be awfully special to have made the ballot.
Now, while the region is under snow, is a great time to plan your river visits. (I love sitting by the woodstove on winter evenings with maps spread out on the floor.) I encourage you to get your feet wet in the Delaware River this year. There are a number of ways to do that. One of my favorites is the Delaware River Sojourn June 18 - 25. You can attend for just one day, or all eight. Shuttles and meals are provided. It is educational, it is social, it is fun. Mariton will also be running kayak trips during the year for our members.
Natural Lands Trust is a regional organization that reaches from southern New Jersey, up past the Poconos, and out to central Pennsylvania. When you consider all the lands that we are stewards of (40 preserves and 20,987 acres), along with all of the conservation easements that limit development (278 easements and 19,379 acres), there are only a handful that are outside of the Delaware River Watershed. That amazes me on two levels. One, that the Delaware is so wide reaching. It influences (and its water quality is influenced) by so much of the mid-Atlantic. The second is that NLT reaches so far, yet are core area is still the Delaware River.
Again, I encourage you to take a close look at the Delaware in the coming year. I also encourage you to look at one of the tributaries that empties into the Delaware. Hopefully, that exploration will give you a better understanding about how our lives affect our waterways from the tiniest drainage to the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi.