Central Jersey Stream Team
Our Efforts So Far
2013 was a bigger success than we had ever imagined as we set out to make a difference in the local community. What began as a “simple” service project has blossomed into a dedicated grass roots nonprofit organization. Over the course of three large scale events, plus two smaller efforts the Central Jersey Stream Team has now removed 614 tires (101/407/89/5/12) from the South Branch and main stem of the Raritan River from the confluence of the Neshanic River to Raritan Borough. As well as the tire haul, our team has also removed several tons of other trash and refuse. We estimate that we have removed nearly 70 cubic feet of trash aside from the tires.
As proud as we are of our restoration work, we discovered something else that has made us just as proud, if not more. Along the way we have engaged the local community in a way we didn’t expect. Over the course of the three large scale events we have had the pleasure of working with over 150 unique individuals who volunteered their time and efforts to assist us in restoring the river. We take pride in working along side our volunteers, introducing or reintroducing them to the beautiful rivers we work on and then teaching them and encouraging them to become protectors and stewards of their local waterways.
But these individuals are not the only ones we have had the opportunity to build a relationship with. Along the way we developed and nurtured relationships with several incredible and dedicated organizations and municipalities, all who are dedicated to assisting us with our goals. With the help of these more established groups and municipalities we were able to far exceed our expectations.
Central Jersey Stream Team
Short Term Goals
As Central Jersey Stream Team reflects upon the accomplishments of 2013, we realize that this is only the beginning. We are focusing on 2014, shifting gears to raising awareness, planning and organizing for the future. In the coming year we plan to extend our work from its initial 10 mile stretch to a total of 30 miles of river (Clinton to Somerville). With a few projects under our belt we have become more efficient than when we first started. For this reason we are confident that we can double the distance we achieved last year as well as re-clean our inaugural 10-mile stretch of river.
We are also planning our first awareness event for 2014. In June we are staging our first educational event “Restoring the Raritan Canoe & Kayak Rally”…a paddle featuring talks by dam removal specialist John Jengo as he shares with paddlers his accomplishment in removing the Calco, Robert Street and Nevius dams over the last 3 summers. John will also highlight the environmental and recreational advantages of removing other dams still standing on the Raritan River. The event will also give us a chance to share with paddlers what the river looks like after a cleanup as well as what it looks like before we get it cleaned up further downstream.
In addition to our in river events we are also developing our new stewardship program. We realized early on that we certainly couldn’t do all this work on our own. So we set out to discover if others like us would be interested in taking on projects like the ones we love to work on. Though we are still relatively new to the Central New Jersey Environmental scene, CJST is excited to guide and work with likeminded individuals who are as passionate about cleaning up Central New Jersey waterways as much as we are.
Central Jersey Stream Team
Long Term Goals
Although we will focus our 2014 efforts on river cleaning and our “Restore the Raritan Canoe & Kayak Rally ”, we already have plans in the pipeline for other projects. As each summer passes we hope and expect that our cleaning efforts will eventually scale down. Though as they scale down we plan to incorporate new projects in conjunction with our cleaning efforts.
The project we are most excited to develop is the creation of a Raritan River-River Trail with designated access points and signage for recreational use. We would like to collaborate with local environmental commissions and design these access points with environmentally safe and sustainable parking, information kiosks, road signage and garbage and recyclable receptacles. The kiosks would include information about water and wildlife safety, the local environment and the historical and cultural significance of the site, as well as a map showing designated access points. To enhance this river trail we would also like to develop a campground or two along the South Branch of the Raritan River to make overnight trips available for through paddlers.
Along with our “River Trail” we also hope to join Somerset County’s effort of developing the Raritan River Greenway for hikers, runners and bicyclists. Though Somerset County is focusing their effort on a greenway for the main stem of the river (from the North and South Branch Confluence downstream), we hope to add to that by developing trails along the South Branch of the river.
To continue our efforts we do hope to develop programs and educational efforts that wont necessarily get us quite so dirty. We are exploring the reason why so many tires have ended up in the river in the first place. There are several reasons of course, but the most common reason is the expensive cost of disposal. We would like to develop a program that allows people to dispose of their unwanted tires without having to incur the sometimes expensive cost. Our hope is that this will deter would-be polluters from further destroying New Jersey’s waterways.
And finally, as we were originally inspired by our roots as Eagle Scouts (Joseph and Steven), we would like to develop a relationship with local Scouting groups to encourage a healthy outdoor lifestyle for today’s youth. We hope this will build a bridge to the next generation of clean river stewards.
Central Jersey Stream team
Evolving our Efforts
Though we have been proud of our ability to accomplish much with very little capital, we do understand moving forward that having operating capital can help us advance our efforts.
We can certainly become more effective and efficient with certain items including:
Used canoe’s and flat bottom boats for river cleaning, paddles
Inner tube/plywood (rafts)
Pry bars, shovels, manhole hooks
GoPro cameras to document and record cleanup footage and create educational videos
2014 offers the Centrtal Jersey Stream Team the opportunity to reach unprecendented heights in Central Jersey stream restoration. With continued community municipal and county support, as well as clear communication, organization and teamwork, we should be able to triple the mileage of our inaugural season.