STARLIGHT, PA — The Delaware River Club (DRC) is a fly-fishing lodge on the banks of the West Branch of the Delaware. Managed and run by angler Jeff White, the DRC is a place where, it is said, …
STARLIGHT, PA — The Delaware River Club (DRC) is a fly-fishing lodge on the banks of the West Branch of the Delaware. Managed and run by angler Jeff White, the DRC is a place where, it is said, folks come as clients, but leave as family.
At the DRC, guides take clients out on drift boats to promote and enforce safe and sustainable angling habits. You might learn something new about the Upper Delaware watershed and its ecosystems.
If you’ve ever met an angler, then you know how much the rivers, and nature conservation in general, mean to them; people who frequent the DRC are no different. So with the help of Jay Johnson from Pig Farm Ink and angler Chris Calabrese, the annual Get Trashed event was born.
This year, it’s scheduled for Saturday, August 13, starting at 10 a.m.
For the last four years, the DRC has had, on average, 100-plus volunteers ready to get dirty, pick up trash, and have a blast while doing it.
Volunteers take to the river and roads by drift boat, kayak, foot and by car; you name it, they’ve probably picked up trash in it.
With hundreds of people on the river from May through October, trash of all kinds ends up in the Delaware. It has become an infamous dumping ground for tires, which has negatively affected the trout and native fish populations of the Upper Delaware.
Even with the pandemic raging in 2020 and 2021, the volunteers came to the club, socially distanced on the road and river, and did better for the Delaware.
The West Branch of the Upper Delaware runs through Pennsylvania and New York. The NYSDEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) fills a number of roles: setting size and bag limits for the New York fishery, working with groups to manage the water releases, and managing fisher access and boat launch sites along the river.
Any angler you talk to, whether that be a West Branch fisher or someone who fishes in Patagonia, will all have a similar mindset when it comes to conservation. Fly fishing has turned into a form of meditation and healing, and that is one of the most important reasons why they so strongly believe in and fight for conservation of the rivers.
Anglers understand that to fish and utilize the river and nature to its fullest extent, conservation is a must. They pave the way for conversation and for sustainability efforts to promote healthy and safe fishing habits, so all can enjoy the rivers for years to come.
Nonprofits like Trout Unlimited, which has chapters all over the country, are populated by those who understand that without conservation efforts, the wild trout, salmon and other native fish that draw anglers here will not be protected or properly cared for.
Conservation on the river is critical for people, too. Unbeknownst to some, more than 50 percent of New York City’s daily water supply, as well as that of surrounding counties, comes from three major reservoirs located in the Upper Delaware watershed, according to a petition created by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
In August of 2020, 96 tires were pulled out of the river, a new record, and the following year there were more. Disposing of them is a significant problem.
Tires are one of the most polluting materials that plague rivers, streams and waterways around the country. They contain chemicals and metals that are harmful not only to humans, but to wildlife. When tires sit in a river, or along the banks, these chemicals will filter into the environment, and according to an article by Eco Green, a company that makes tire-shredding equipment, these chemicals and metals can hold cancer-causing and mutagenic properties, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
There isn’t an exact science to the proper disposal of these tires, because if you were to burn them, as some do, those chemicals are then released into the air. Creating a pile of tires and allowing them to sit stagnant in one place is not a responsible idea either, because rubber can spark fires that can destroy acres of land. However, the best way to dispose of your tires is to make sure they are recycled properly, by finding a facility that will recycle them near you. Some mechanics have facilities where they properly recycle the tires.
Some caution that with the constant pollution from tires, microplastics, trash and contaminated material flowing through the river and small streams, the beautiful Delaware could be in danger, due to the reckless behavior of citizens and the lack of action from the states it runs through.
Volunteers who take part in Get Trashed don’t stop their conservation efforts when they bring their trash to the DRC. They ensure that the recyclables are separated by category and those items are taken to facilities that will dispose of them properly.
Furthermore, it is vital that those who float in kayaks and drift boats rinse and clean their boats to rid them of the chemicals, harmful materials and any invasive subspecies that attach themselves to the boat.
Although the Upper Delaware River watershed is relatively healthy and continues to be a sustainable option of a water source for much of New York state, concerns remain that, at this rate of pollution, there is far too much at stake for the watershed and its ecosystems to remain safe and healthy.
With the help of volunteers statewide every year, the West Branch of the Upper Delaware and its surrounding small streams continue to be a little less “trashy.”
For questions about Get Trashed, email GetTrashedInTheCatskills@gmail.com.
Tony Bonavist contributed detail to the story.
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