Keeping the Delaware River clean

Volunteers help with Kittatinny Canoes 25th Annual Cleanup

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  • Photos by Anya Tikka Members of the Kittatinny Canoes 25th Annual Cleanup group look for trash along the river banks. Many members come from out of state, including California, Texas, and Tennessee, as well as nearby New Jersey and of course, New York.

  • The cleanup crew found a whole immersed wood structure that turned out to be a garbage container cover. Among the more colorful items found in the river along the years are a note in Russian inside a wine bottle, snakes in a bag, and a loaded shotgun. Altogether 438.98 tons of garbage has been collected in 25 years by volunteers, many who have been coming year after year.

  • Tom Baker came from Tennessee for his 21st time on the cleanup trip, bringing friend Lisa Karst all the way from California for her first time.

  • Nick Troiano who's running for US House of Representatives took part in the river cleanup.

  • Launching from the Barryville base on Monday morning.

  • Kittatinny Canoes River Guide Alan 'Hoss' Stevens throws a rope to Nisha Zutshi who's being helped by the group's Bob Jackson after her kayak turned over in the rapids in Barryville. She was fine after the rescue and continued her paddle.

Kittatinny Canoes 25th Annual Cleanup brought about 125 people to what many of the group consider a "family reunion."

The group stays on the campsite free of charge, with breakfast and dinner, and all equipment and transport provided by Ruth and son Dave Jones, Kittatinny Canoes owners.

This year, the person who traveled from the farthest away was Lisa Karst from California who came with Tom Baker from Tennessee who’s done the cleanup for 20 years. He started when he was living in Westchester County, and has continued to come.

“I like the river, and I like clean rivers,” they both commented.

The participants the Courier talked to all explained that they love the river, and want to keep it clean, and that’s why they keep coming back — some of them every year.

Ruth Jones chuckled, “25 years is a quarter of a century, a long time!”, and then explained, “Next year is going to be the 75th Kittatinny Canoes Anniversary, a big year.

The company was started by her parents down in Delaware Water Gap where they used to live, and it now owns seven sites on the river. They clean 70 miles of the river each time.

“The amount of garbage is going down," She continued. "In the past years this has always been three days, now it’s two days.”

The river’s staying cleaner, most probably to the group’s cleanup efforts.

Many brought their dogs along, and they are used to sitting in the canoes.

The group’s members performed a rescue on the way this year. A kayaker had ran into a rock, her kayak went over her, and she was rolling around in the rapids just south of the Cedar Rapids Restaurant and Bar in Barryville. Luckily, she was wearing a life vest that kept her from going under.

“Yeah, I was scared, sure," said Nisha Zutshi from Belleville, N.J., who was camping for the weekend.

Bob Jackson who was the closest to her and jumped in the river and held her up since she had trouble getting up to stand in the rapids. Eventually, he floated a short distance with her, still holding her, until Alan ‘Hoss’ Stevens, Kittatinny Canoes River Guide could get to the right spot to throw them a rope. They were towed to safety, and Nisha was brave enough to continue her river trip on her canoe once she got a new paddle.

Among the pre-canoe presenters to the group at breakfast were the new superintendent of Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Kris Heister, UDC’s Travis O’Dell, and NPS Ranger Joe Hinkes.

Pike County’s Nick Troiano who’s running for US House of Representatives was the only politician taking part of the cleanup.

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