Celebrating 50 Years of National Wild & Scenic Rivers: Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to Hackettstown, NJ

Celebrating 50 Years of National Wild & Scenic Rivers: Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to Hackettstown, NJ

By Alan Hunt, Executive Director of the Musconetcong Watershed Association


The National Wild & Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Fewer than ¼ of 1% of all river miles in the United States are given the “National Wild & Scenic” designation. Therefore, it's notable that the the Delaware River Watershed has six National Wild & Scenic Rivers: the Upper Delaware, the Middle Delaware, the Lower Delaware, the Maurice River, the Musconetcong River, and the White Clay Creek Watershed. The Delaware River's main stem has 60% (180.7 miles) of its 301 miles designated as National Wild & Scenic.

The Musconetcong Watershed Association is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System with the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on September 9, 2018 in Hackettstown, NJ.

 The Musconetcong River in Warren County, NJ

The Musconetcong River in Warren County, NJ

In addition to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, Congress has designated 13 rivers as 'Partnership' Wild & Scenic Rivers in locations where the National Park Service (NPS) works with local stakeholders to protect outstanding rivers in a collaborative manner. The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed recognizes the importance of Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers, and included protecting this program in their policy priorities for 2018. The Musconetcong River, a Partnership Wild & Scenic River, was featured in a film produced by the NPS called River Connections. The NPS only made three films to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers System, with one film dedicated to Partnership rivers.

The Musconetcong National Wild & Scenic River encompasses 24.2 miles, about half the river's length, of scenic and recreational areas. It is known for Outstandingly Remarkable Values due to its recreation (paddling, trout fishing, etc.), history (the river includes seven historic districts), archaeology (including documented human habitation for over 13,000 years), natural scenery and vistas, and wildlife habitat. Because the Musconetcong River lies mostly on private lands, the river is managed through local partnerships via the Musconetcong River Management CouncilBeing a Partnership Wild & Scenic River means that local citizens worked to have the river recognized nationally and are directly involved in the river's management and protection.


Included in the Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be a screening of River Connections and several other films featuring river, habitat, and conservation themes. Coalition for Delaware River Watershed member organizations helped to create some of the films that will be screened, including American Rivers and Trout UnlimitedIn addition to film screenings, a panel of speakers will discuss river conservation issues and recreational opportunities on northwestern New Jersey’s three National Wild & Scenic Rivers: the Musconetcong River, the Lower Delaware (Harmony Township to Trenton), and the Middle Delaware (Delaware Water Gap National Park). 

The Musconetcong Watershed Association is proud to be hosting a film festival that simultaneously highlights these three Wild & Scenic Rivers, and are able to offer free admission due to the generosity of sponsors. This film festival is a pathway to inspire people to enjoy and protect these national treasures that are right in our backyard, which is what the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System is all about. Be sure to register for the September 9, 2018 film festival in advance, as seating is limited.

No Room for Mistakes on New York’s Upper Delaware River

It could have been far worse. The Upper Delaware River dodged a bullet this August when heavy rains and flooding washed out a railroad culvert, and a 63-car train carrying an assortment of waste materials, some of it toxic, derailed near Deposit, NY. Two rail cars plunged into the West Branch of the Delaware, home to one of the East Coast’s most prolific wild trout fisheries. An estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the train’s punctured gas tanks into the river, leading to widespread reports of strong fuel odors and visible slicks for 30 miles downstream.

Protecting the Water of 5 Million New Jerseyans: Lisa Plevin to Lead Highlands Council

New Jersey League of Conservation Voters would like to congratulate Lisa J. Plevin to her appointment as Executive Director for the New Jersey Highlands Council. Lisa takes over the role after Margaret Nordstrom, who is stepping down after joining the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council staff six years ago. The Highlands Council is a 15-member appointed body tasked with implementation of the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act of 2004. The Highlands Council is advised in its actions by its Executive Director, who serves as the chief administrative officer of the Council.

Joining Together in the Delaware River Watershed: The Winner of the Delaware River Means “Togetherness” Contest

Imagine that you’re out enjoying the Delaware River on a canoe and the nighttime slowly sneaks up on you. The river winds left and right, and the surrounding trees loom above you as the sky darkens. Though not recommended, this scary scenario led to a prize-winning photo in the Delaware River Means “Togetherness” contest.

NFWF and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announce Launch of New Fund to Support Delaware Watershed Conservation Efforts

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the launch of the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF), a competitive grant and technical assistance program of $4.3 million that will provide new support for the protection, restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitats in the Delaware River Watershed, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million people.

The Invasive New Zealand Mud Snail Spotted in the Delaware River Watershed

Call it “Snailzilla” or “the Snailpocalypse,” but the New Zealand mud snail is an invasive species that is no laughing matter. Just this month, the mud snail’s presence was recorded in the Musconetcong River in New Jersey and the Little Lehigh River in Pennsylvania - the first two sightings in the Delaware River Watershed. The mud snail has the potential to rapidly reproduce through cloning and displace native macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates include insects, snails, worms, algae, bacteria, and fungi that play key roles in the ecosystems they inhabit. Displacing native macroinvertebrates can have upstream affects in the food chain, by pushing out native aquatic insect larva and snail populations that feed fish and insect-eating terrestrial species like bats, dragonflies, and birds.

Getting a Bird’s-Eye View of the Delaware River with Lighthawk

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) staff works to unite organizations and move policy forward that benefits the Delaware River Basin. To accomplish this, we’re often in meetings, on the phone, or sitting behind a computer screen. It’s a rare day when we’re able to venture out into the watershed, which is why when Lighthawk offered to take our staff up in a plane over the Delaware River – we “flew” at the opportunity! Lighthawk is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1979 with one man and a borrowed plane, and now they utilize over 200 volunteer pilots across the U.S. who provide conservation organizations, scientists, and other environmental experts the powerful perspective of flight.

U.S. Senator Booker and Coalition Stand up for New Jersey’s Waterways

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s office, New Jersey Audubon, Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Youth Corps of Phillipsburg, North Jersey RC&D, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) gathered for a press conference Tuesday to discuss the significance New Jersey plays within Delaware River Basin and new funding coming to the state. For the first time in history, dedicated federal funding to Delaware River states was secured through the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations omnibus bill in the amount of $5 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP).