Partnership Rivers Program Turns 25

Pontoon with guests is floating on the river.
Duke ‘O Fluke, a pontoon boat that motored up the Great Egg Harbor and South Rivers.

NPS photo

The National Park Service (NPS) Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers Program celebrated its 25th Anniversary aboard the Duke ‘O Fluke, a pontoon boat that motored up the Great Egg Harbor and South Rivers on Saturday, September 23. The Duke ‘O Fluke, a boat normally reserved for the Great Egg Harbor “Floating Classroom” Program, transported Great Egg Harbor River Management Council representatives, the Mayor of Somers Point and a NJ State Freeholder in waters and along shores where multiple river partners have protected river values for a quarter century.

Bill Hughes, the Congressman who introduced the legislation to designate the Great Egg Harbor River also attended and saw the boat off, and thanked the River Council, the Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association (GEHWA) and the NPS for their collective work in protecting the river and its tributaries. As the boat moved upriver, attendees were informed of the operations work conducted by the NPS, GEHWA, and the River Council.

Congressman Bill Hughes was the driving force behind the legislation to designate the Great Egg Harbor River as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1992. This designation was different than all other designations of Wild and Scenic Rivers, in that the river would be jointly managed by the NPS and a local River Council without the NPS owning any adjoining land.

“The Great Egg Harbor River is a great example of how the federal government can partner with local governments in managing natural resources,” said Paul Kenney, NPS river manager for the Great Egg Harbor River. “This was the first Wild and Scenic River in the park service to be managed like this, and served as a model for a dozen more designated and organized in the same way in half a dozen other states.”

“After 25 years, the Great Egg Harbor Wild and Scenic River designation as a locally managed unit of the national park system, flowing through mostly private lands, is a proven success story and model for other rivers,” said Fred Akers, river administrator for the Great Egg Harbor River Council. “The long term partnership between local jurisdictions and the National Park Service has provided, and will continue to provide, long-term protection for the Great Egg Harbor River, here in New Jersey.

The Great Egg Harbor Wild and Scenic River designation, located in Southeastern New Jersey, includes 17 tributaries, a tidal estuary, and measures 129 total river miles. More than 97% of the designation’s waters drains the Pinelands National Reserve, and the designation runs through three counties. The designation’s waters are both tidal and non-tidal.