Delaware River Greenway Partnership Program Goals for 2007-2016
Program goals for 2007 – 2016 are concentrated in three areas:
- Recreational Land and Water Trails
- Active Stewardship of the River and its Tributaries
- River Corridor Preservation and Protection
Recreational Land and Water Trails
Recreational trails connect people to the river and link river communities to one another. DRGP’s trail development efforts will concentrate on two ongoing projects that promise to enhance enjoyment and appreciation of the natural and cultural resources of the Delaware River and the communities that border it. If DRGP is to continue to lead in the development of trails within the river corridor, it must secure funding for a full-time trail coordinator to implement plans and projects and coordinate DRGP’s efforts with other agencies interested in promoting river-oriented trails.
The Delaware River Heritage Trail is envisioned as a 60-mile multi-use loop trail highlighting the natural and cultural resources of the upper portion of the Delaware River Estuary and providing recreational opportunities to residents and visitors. When completed, the trail will extend on both sides of the river from the Calhoun Street Bridge connecting Trenton, NJ and Morrisville, PA, and the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, connecting Palmyra, NJ and the Tacony neighborhood of northeastern Philadelphia. Counties, municipalities, and corporate and private stakeholders along the length of the trail will be responsible for its construction and maintenance, as well as for facilitating trail access. DRGP will coordinate ongoing planning, development, and signage, and will promote public awareness and appreciation of the trail and the communities through which it passes. A planning committee of municipal and county representatives and other non-profit agencies will provide input and guidance in all phases of planning, development, and implementation. Because the Heritage Trail has the potential to increase enjoyment and appreciation of the natural and cultural resources of communities bordering the upper portion of the Delaware Estuary, the feasibility of extending the trail south to the City of Camden, New Jersey will also be explored.
Planning for the Delaware River Water Trail began in 2003 with a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to support development of a conceptual plan and guide for the trail. DRGP and its partners launched the Delaware River Water Trail in April 2007 with the release of the Delaware River Water Trail Guide and a set of updated River Recreation Maps published by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The Water Trail Guide is a colorful, two-sided folded poster that contains maps, access locations, safety tips, and other information intended to provide newcomers and river recreation veterans alike with the information required for a safe and enjoyable river experience in the non-tidal Delaware, from Hancock, NY, to Trenton, NJ. DRGP received a second grant from PA DCNR to implement the conceptual plan. This effort will involve development of marketing and signage programs, as well as creation of a safety program. DRGP will continue to work with the Water Trail Steering Committee to implement these projects and will seek the continued participation of other stakeholders. DRGP also will share a grant with the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor for completion of the water trail signage plan. DRGP is participating in development of a water trail for the tidal Delaware River, a project of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and will coordinate planning and signage for an integrated Delaware River Water Trail.
Prioritized Goals for Recreational Trails Through 2016:
- Complete a Heritage Trail Management Plan for the agencies responsible for trail construction and non governmental organization partners.
- Hire a Trail Coordinator to maintain communication with the agencies respon-sible for the Heritage Trail’s construction and management, issue periodic “State of the Trail” reports and promote land and water trails through events and presentations.
- Publish a brief Heritage Trail Guide to the historical, cultural, scenic and envi-ronmental resources accessible from the trail.
- Develop independent, interactive Heritage Trail and Water Trail websites.
- Develop and implement integrated plans for directional, interpretive, and cau-tionary signage for both trails.
- Work with NJDOT to develop a feasibility study to explore extension of the Heritage Trail south to the City of Camden.
- Conduct a feasibility study for extending land-based trails on both sides of the river north to the Delaware Water Gap
Stewardship of the River and its Tributaries
DRGP’s community-based stewardship projects and events will include river clean-ups, invasive species control projects, stream restoration, workshops and other forums to encourage sustainable land management and development practices, and educational programs for youth and adults. Through hands-on projects, educational materials, websites, presentations and dialogue, DRGP seeks to equip the public with the tools needed to be effective stewards of the Delaware River corridor.
Since 2004, DRGP has held River Bright Delaware River clean-up events each year, engaging volunteers from the American Canoe Association, local canoe clubs, and youth groups. DRGP will continue its River Bright program and expand the sponsorship, participation, and educational opportunities associated with this successful program.
In partnership with the Bordentown City and Township Environmental Commissions, DRGP conducted an invasive species eradication project along Blacks Creek in 2006, including re-planting the project area with native plant species. DRGP plans to continue volunteer-based stewardship projects through the development of Japanese Knotweed control demonstration projects, on both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania sides of the river. With the help of volunteers, DRGP will conduct a survey, site prioritization, and eradication project along the Delaware River and its tributaries.
With grants from the National Park Service Challenge Cost Share and NJDEP Coastal Zone Management programs, DRGP will sponsor a Student Leadership Conference on Watersheds in 2008. The two-day summit will extend to New Jersey an event held annually in Pennsylvania by DCNR. The summit will involve role-playing, water quality projects, and leadership development exercises. The goal is to have the summit become an annual bi-state event.
DRGP will develop a Landowner’s Education Package on sustainable land management practices, to consist of a brochure, forums, demonstration projects, and a Website Toolbox. Topics will include invasive species control, stream buffers, using native plants, alternatives to traditional lawns, flood alleviation projects, and tools for community action.
Prioritized Projects and Events to Promote Stewardship of the River Through 2012
- Continue semiannual River Bright river clean-up events.
- Expand to NJ the Student Leadership Summit held annually by PA DCNR, focusing on river and watershed conservation.
- Develop Invasive Plant Species Control demonstration projects and educational materials for Japanese Knotweed.
- Conduct a survey of invasive plant species along the river, prioritize sites and perform eradication projects.
- Develop a Landowner Education Package and Website Toolbox to encourage property owners to adopt sustainable land management practices.
River Corridor Protection and Preservation:
Implementation of the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River Action Plan
In early 2007, the National Park Service provided DRGP with funding through its Partnership Rivers Program for the new position of River Administrator for the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River. The Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware consists of the river and river corridor from the Delaware Water Gap south to Washington Crossing, including three tributaries in Pennsylvania. The primary role of the River Administrator will be to encourage river corridor protection and preservation as called for in the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River Management Plan. This is a tremendous new opportunity for catalyzing sustainable land management practices and encouraging a stewardship ethic in the municipalities that border the Lower Delaware.
The River Administrator, Management Committee and DRGP will encourage enactment of stream buffer ordinances by the nine municipalities in the corridor that currently lack such ordinances. Adoption and implementation by all river municipalities of the Action Plan will be strongly advocated through forums, public presentations, attendance at municipal meetings and newspaper editorials.
DRGP will work to strengthen the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River Management Committee, consisting of representatives of each of the municipalities within the designated corridor and technical experts, with the goal of achieving active participation at a minimum by a majority of the municipalities in the corridor.
DRGP will continue to sponsor annual forums for community officials and the public on issues related to management plan implementation. In October 2007, DRGP will convene a one-day forum for governmental and non-profit agencies on sensitive waterfront development.>
With the assistance of land trust partners, DRGP will develop a prioritized list of lands in need of protection to preserve water quality and wildlife habitat, protect resources stressed by development, provide flood control benefits, and achieve other ecological, scenic, recreational and quality of life objectives. The purpose of this list, which will not be publicized, is to emphasize to land trust organizations and governments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania the importance and vulnerability of the river when land preservation decisions are being made.
DRGP will develop a comprehensive interpretive and marketing plan highlighting significant ecological, scenic, historic and cultural resources of the Lower Delaware River corridor for the benefit of local tourism groups, chambers of commerce and planning officials. The information gathered may subsequently be communicated to the public through websites, published guides, and signage. The long-term objective of the plan is to engender a deeper appreciation and “sense of place” among residents and reinforce a positive public response to the region.
Prioritized DRGP Goals for River Corridor Protection and Preservation Through 2016
- Encourage implementation of the Wild & Scenic Lower Delaware River Action Plan by all corridor municipalities.
- Strengthen the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River Management Committee.
- Sponsor annual or semi-annual forums related to the management plan and river corridor protection and preservation.
- Develop a Comprehensive Lower Delaware River interpretive and marketing plan.
- Develop a prioritized list of lands along the river in need of protection in partnership with land trusts and other public and private open space programs.