The Upper Passaic River Water Trail

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The Upper Passaic River offers wonderful opportunities for recreation within easy access of millions of New Jersey residents. Below I’ve gathered data that highlights potential access points for those interested in exploring. Of course one must paddle at their own risk and do their own research but hopefully with your input I can continue to add information to this map that fosters confidence in the use of the river for paddlers.

Please comment with helpful edits/updates and send photographs of launch sites to davidethanalexander

Passaic River Facts

  • Passaic or “pahsayèk” is a Native Lenape American word meaning “valley”.
  • Native Lenape indians lived along the river before European settlement.
  • The first colonial settlement along the Passaic was in 1666 at present day Newark.
  • The Passaic River is about 80 miles long and flows through forty-five municipalities and seven New Jersey counties .
  • Everyone lives in a watershed or land that drains into a body of water. The Passaic River is one of 20 state-wide watershed management areas within New Jersey.
  • By using and sharing your appreciation of the river we can work together to protect the health, safety and ecological integrity of the resource.

If you would like to join or schedule an Upper Passaic River Paddle trip check out the following resources:


Citizen Science for a Healthier Passaic River

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For the past eight years I’ve been working together with local schools on a citizen science endeavor to gather chemical and biological data on the health of the Passaic River at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland, New Jersey.

The projects purpose is to encourage and engage student involvement in establishing data resources for scientific use as a basis for sound decision-making.  In doing so, students have authentic place-based experiences that address real-life environmental issues in order to contribute to the protection of the natural resources in our communities.  In using the river as a rich learning laboratory students become ecologically aware of their surroundings and their immediate community impact. Hopefully through their participation they foster an ethic of appreciation for the environment and go forward as a steward who has the tools to make individual choices that work to protect and improve the health of our environment.

Classes graph all the combined collected data to examine changes taking place and make realistic recommendations  that can help to continue to improve the recovery of the river as a valued public resource.  Together we learn that just being concerned about the environment is not enough however there are small choices and changes we can make that help to leave it better than we found it.

For our Passaic River studies we use the Earth Force Standard Water Monitoring Kit and examine phosphate, nitrate, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and temperature of water and air.  We also collect, identify and release aquatic organisms or macroinvertebrates that act as indicators of the health of the water.  We assign each macroinvertebrate a point value based on their ability to tolerate pollution (1pt), be somewhat tolerant of pollution (2pts) and pollution intolerant (3pts).  Emphasis is put on accuracy and precision of collected data to ensure results are useful and comparable.

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