A major urban conservation, recreation, and environmental education project was announced today by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation) and partners, making it possible for more people to increase their connections to, and understanding of, the outdoors in Camden.
To create a 13-mile water trail and connect an 8-mile greenway for hiking and biking along the Delaware and Cooper Rivers, NJ Conservation is collaborating with Camden County to purchase and preserve four key waterfront properties.
At Gateway Park on the tidal Cooper River, construction of a floating dock for non-motorized boats like kayaks and canoes and easier fishing is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2023.
It is anticipated that by the end of the 2023 school year, a solar-powered catamaran will have been built and put into use as a floating learning centre, offering water-based programming to Camden area students and community groups.
Upstream Alliance owns and operates the vessel, which will be berthed at Camden County Wiggins Marina. To complement the solar vessel, upstream will find and create an experiential learning programme. An anonymous donor, going by the moniker “Silent Maid 1924,” has given $3.2 million to NJ Conservation to fund the project.
The donation was made to the Michele Byers Legacy Fund, which was set up in memory of the organization’s longtime executive director Michele S. Byers and is dedicated to continuing the groundbreaking work that was begun during her tenure, such as expanding public access to green spaces in urban New Jersey. After nearly 40 years of service, Byers left New Jersey Conservation in December 2021.
Jay Watson, co-executive director of NJ Conservation, said, “The project represents a transformational opportunity to connect Camden residents with the outdoors, and we’re incredibly grateful for the generous gift that’s made it possible.” “Providing opportunities for people to interact with nature in their local communities is essential to the health and happiness of city dwellers, who should have the chance to reap the many rewards associated with living closer to rivers.”
Camden County Parks Commissioner Jeffrey Nash said, “The Board of Commissioners is thrilled to accept private dollars to supplement and enhance our public resources throughout the county.” To put it another way, “these funds will be used to provide access and amenities for our residents throughout our greenspaces, playgrounds, and waterways that improve our collective quality of life.”
Don Baugh, President & Founder, of Upstream Alliance, said, “This boat will be a flagship for environmental education in Camden and along the Delaware River, providing opportunities and meaningful watershed experiences for students and teachers alike.”
The New Jersey Conservation Foundation: An Overview
For the benefit of all, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation works to preserve land and protect wildlife in both urban and rural areas of the state. More than 140,000 acres of parks, farms and open space have been protected by NJCF since 1960.
The organisation oversees 17 protected areas in New Jersey, promotes community health through environmental education and outreach, and campaigns for sound land and climate policies.
Since 1986, NJCF has been actively promoting trail connections, expanding access to green spaces, and involving the public in nature and health-related programmes in Camden, New Jersey.
Brief History of The Upstream Alliance
To that end, Upstream Alliance has been established as a tax-exempt, charitable organisation. We hope that one day people will have a genuine connection with nature, where they will learn to appreciate and protect it for the benefit of all living things.
Through its partnerships with organisations that prioritise these issues, Upstream is able to realise its vision of developing conservation leaders and agents of change who will work to increase public access, clean water, and coastal resilience.