The Wallkill River Watershed Alliance held its second annual Wallkill River Festival last Saturday at the Open Space Institute’s new River-to-Ridge trailhead on Springtown Road in New Paltz. Throughout the year, most of the alliance’s activities focus on scientific research, data collection and advocacy, punctuated regularly by volunteer cleanup and streambank restoration days. But this Festival was all about getting regular folks “down by the riverside” to remind one another what it is that needs rescuing, why and how.
The festival opened with a blessing of the river by Vincent Mann, Turtle Clan chief of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation. Three local bands provided entertainment. The festival also featured hands-on educational and craft activities and a silent auction of local watershed-themed art and gift cards donated by many local businesses.
Festivalgoers made and launched rice-paper boats to carry native seeds down the river, explored nature along the river with Wild Earth, got the latest update on the health of the Wallkill from the DEC, the alliance and Riverkeeper, biked the new trail or paddled the river via human-powered vehicles supplied by New Paltz Bikes/Kayaking Tours, played the Wallkill River Trivia game and discovered ways we can all reduce harmful impacts on the river.