The New Jersey Audubon Wattles Stewardship Center and the NJA Old Farm Preserve, (both located in Warren County), have received recognition by National Geographic as Geotourism destination areas under the Scenic, Wild Delaware River Geotourism Program. The program, lead by National Geographic and the National Parks Conservation Association, identifies places throughout the Delaware River Watershed for their valuable contribution to Geotourism. Geotourism is a kind of travel that sustains and enhances the unique geographic character of a region by involving a community, benefiting local residents economically, conserving resources, respecting local traditions and culture and supporting integrity of place. All destination areas under the program, approved by National Geographic for the Delaware River Region, are selected because of their commitment to aesthetics, culture, environment, heritage and the well-being of the regions’ residents.
“We are very happy that two of our properties are now part of National Geographic’s Geotourism Program,” said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director of NJA. “The program is a good way to not only inform people of the importance of the region, but hopefully it will help get folks out to experience the beauty of the Delaware River Watershed and also recognize that they too can help protect this magnificent land and the natural resources it provides.”
Since 2013, NJ Audubon and other groups have been working in the region to protect, enhance and restore areas for water quality and habitat improvements under the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI). The initiative and associated funding was provided by the William Penn Foundation in an effort to bring attention to the significance of the Delaware River Watershed. The Delaware River Watershed covers more than 13,500-square miles spanning New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Although it comprises only four-tenths of one percent of the total continental U.S., about five percent of our nation’s population—more than 15 million people—rely on the Delaware River watershed for drinking water. Additionally, the watershed supports an array of water-related economic enterprises valued at $25 billion per year, as well as significant habitat. However, poorly planned development, deforestation, agricultural and stormwater runoff severely threaten the health of the watershed.
For more information on the Scenic, Wild Delaware River Geotourism Program go to DelawareRiver.NatGeotourism.com
If you are a farmer or rural landowner in the Lower Musconetcong River, Upper Paulin’s Kill River and Lopatcong River Sub-Watersheds in the Highlands Region of the Delaware River Watershed contact John Parke at [email protected] for more information about the DRWI and to see if you are eligible to receive funds or technical assistance. For farmers and rural landowners in the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer region of southern NJ please contact Kristen Meistrell at [email protected] for DRWI program eligibility and technical assistance.
Photos by John Parke