Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lessons from the Ramapo River

By Richard Fetzer

Taking environmental education outdoors, Ramapo College faculty is co-sponsoring Ramapo River Day with a fishing club.  The event, planned for June 9, is open to school groups, scout troops and youth groups.

According to Mark Czerwinski in an article in The Record, this event is aimed to teach students in fourth grade through high school about the things that live and grow in the Ramapo River watershed.

“They’ll discuss what makes a healthy environment and what you can do to protect it,” notes Czerwinski.  “You’ll catch and identify bugs that live in the river, do water chemistry experiments, and learn about non-point source pollution and botany from college instructors.”

The Ramapo River flows from far beyond the N.J. and N.Y. border to the north, runs along route 202, and ends in Pompton Lake.  It is difficult to determine how contaminated the water may be, but according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, a lot of it is caused by urbanization, suburban and commercial development that increases storm water runoff.  They also say contamination is caused by municipal and residential wastewater discharge.  Educating the young about this issue will shed further light on the problem.

“It’s sick how contaminated that water might be,” says Ramapo student Carrie Lenahan, 21.  “It is about time that the college decides to do something to help the situation.  I mean we share a name with this river and everything.”

On top of learning about the environment, participants in the Ramapo River Day also get to learn how to  fly-fish.  “But it’s not all work and no play,” says Czerwinski in his article.  “The Trout Unlimited crew will teach fly-casting and demonstrate fly-tying techniques.”
The Ramapo River Day is a free event, but space is limited so there is advanced registration required. 

“This seems like a great opportunity for children and young adults to learn about the environment,” says Lenahan.  “I do not have kids, but I will advice my aunts and uncles to let my younger cousins participate.  It is never too early to learn about conservation.  Plus, the fly-fishing sounds like a lot of fun.”

It seems like there are not many cons to the possible experience, but so many pros.

“Your youngster gets to learn science from college teachers and fly-fishing from experts who know the Ramapo River like their back yard,” says Czerwinski.  “All in all, not a bad combination.”

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