River Days at LGNC
River Days at Lehigh Gap Nature Center
| by Dan R. Kunkle | photos by Amber Breiner |
Lehigh Gap Nature Center (LGNC) has been participating and helping to lead a network of environmental centers throughout the Delaware River Watershed as we work to improve the quality and quantity of water in the waterways of the region. As part of the network’s emphasis on connecting area residents to the waterways to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of the resource, LGNC participated in the Network’s River Days.
River Days is a celebration of the region’s waterways with each of the 23 centers in the Network hosting events that provide an emphasis on the watershed and water quality. LGNC began our River Days participation with an outreach table at our annual MigrationFest. Program Specialist Chad Schwartz and several members of the Naturalists Club staffed a table at MigrationFest on September 24 with the goal of engaging visitors with a watershed education message and a request to sign a River Pledge card, stating the signer promises a certain action to aid watershed conservation. Pledges included items such as avoiding littering, planting a rain garden, or refraining from using pesticides and fertilizers on their lawns.
On October 16, Chad and Naturalist Club member Wyatt Trantham continued outreach by setting up a display of macroinvertebrates to engage trail users at the Walnutport Canal Festival. Approximately 300 people stopped by the table to learn about the critters from the the Lehigh River and what they can do to help protect the resource.
On October 2, the weekend following MigrationFest, LGNC held part two of River Days. On this day, we took 18 of our members, including several members of the Naturalists Club, on a bike and boat outing on the D&L Trail and Lehigh River. The trip was subsidized by funding from the William Penn Foundation, the organizers of the watershed network. Wildlands Conservancy was the vendor that provided the guides and equipment.
Participants in the bike and boat event began at Lehigh Gap Nature Center with an introduction to the watershed and the purpose of River Days. Each participant was offered an opportunity to fill out a pledge card. We then mounted bicycles and peddled up-stream 3 miles on the D&L Trail to the boat launch in East Penn Township. There, we swapped bicycles for canoes and paddled back down the river to the Gap. Along the way we spotted an Osprey, Bald Eagles, Common Mergansers, a Belted Kingfisher and more. This stretch of river, which was once impeded by a dam and was so polluted that little life survived, is now an ecologically robust waterway that supports a diverse array of wildlife as well as economically important paddling and angling opportunities.
In spite of cool, overcast weather and a few occasional raindrops, the day was a huge success, with all participants enjoying the experience so much that they were asking when we might do it again. The answer is next spring or summer at the next River Days! Stay tuned for your chance to participate.