NEW JERSEY – The Musconetcong National Wild and Scenic River has received its last eligible segment designation of 4.3 river miles being added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, following local support from Holland and Pohatcong Townships.
“On behalf of myself and the Township Committee, Holland Township is thrilled to protect water quality and enhance the natural environment that we live in, in Holland Township,” said Dan Bush, Holland Township Mayor. “This designation increases recreational opportunities in our area, which in turn, will help our local commerce.”
The Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River is managed as a Partnership River, with a cooperative agreement from the National Park Service to the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) to administer a River Management Council of 14 municipalities, four counties, and three non-governmental organizations.
“This announcement is much welcomed good news. I am thankful that our federal partners have officially recognized the Musconetcong River as Wild and Scenic, said James Kern III, Warren County Commissioner. “This process has been very personal for me since my time as Mayor of Pohatcong Township. So many groups, organizations and individuals have advocated for this important designation. No one has been more of a fighter for this, than the Musconetcong Watershed Association. The Musconetcong River provides people from all over our region with remarkable scenic, recreational and, historic memories. This designation will help protect the River for future generations to come.”
Of the approximately 3.6 million miles of streams in the U.S., less than one percent are protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Expanding the Musconetcong National Wild and Scenic River has been an effort that has long been championed by Congressman Malinowski.
“For the last year, I’ve been working to get the final stage of the Musconetcong River designated as a Wild and Scenic River, and I’m delighted that Secretary of the Interior Haaland has delivered,” said Representative Malinowski. “This will ensure that this beautiful watershed is preserved for New Jerseyans for generations to come.”
The 4.3 mile segment begins at the site of the former Hughesville Dam, in Warren Glen village, and proceeds downstream through forests and farmland to Riegelsville, NJ, where it joins the Delaware River. This river segment boasts three public river access points used by anglers and kayakers and three Historic Districts, including two villages established about 300 years ago.
Since 2011, the MWA, in partnership with the Musconetcong River Management Council and Musconetcong River Restoration Partnership, removed three abandoned dams on this area, which improved fish habitat and recreational boat passage. In 2021, these partners worked through the Hunterdon and Warren County Mosquito Control Commissions to remove a large blockage of trees on this river segment, which will reduce mosquitos and provide better boat passage.
“One of the benefits of the Wild and Scenic River designation is that it brings local governments and non-profit organizations together in a River Management Council, to elevate local river concerns into actions,” said Thomas Dallessio, Executive Director, Musconetcong Watershed Association. “The partnership with the National Park Service brings federal recognition and resources to help address local concerns.” For example, the first National Park Service brochure for the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River will be released later this year, and help boost tourism and awareness of where to hike, boat, and fish along the river.
In December 2006, two upper sections of the River, from Saxton Falls Dam to US 46 in Hackettstown, and Kings Highway to the railroad culverts south of Bloomsbury, were designated by Congress in 2006, with the allowance for future designation of an additional segment, from the former Hughesville Mill Dam to the Delaware River. Holland Township passed a resolution of support in 2002 and Pohatcong Township passed a resolution of support in July, 2018. Expanding the Musconetcong River Wild and Scenic River raises the visibility of river’s remarkable cultural, historical, recreational and water quality values and provides permanent protection from their degradation.
To learn more about projects happening in the Musconetcong Watershed, or to protect water quality in the Musconetcong River, visit www.musconetcong.org.