Its hard to envision the heavily urbanized regions of our country as they once were before their colonization. From historical hindsight, the negative relation of urban patterns against pristine natural landscapes is easily visible; and development and deforestation are two ever-related concepts. Today, boundless forested horizons rarely stretch uninterrupted without the occasional pulse of human development.Although the Delaware River Basin lies between two of the most heavily populated regions on the East Coast, it remains primarily forest. By 1700, much of the lower region of the water basin had been developed into an urban environment.

[photo-Delaware River @ Philadelphia 1928]

Although the Delaware River catered to an influx of new colonizers, it never fell victim to any extreme ecological alterations. The Delaware River distinguishes itself by remaining the only undammed river east of the Mississippi, despite multiple attempts. In the 1960s, extensive efforts were placed in the preservation of the river, but had little effect on the long-lived legacy of industrial pollution that plagued the downstream basin region. Around this time, the quality of the river around the Philadelphia/Camden region was so considerably altered, that the entire tidal-water portion of the river(Trenton to estuary) was completely deprived of oxygen, creating a biological blockade for migratory fish breeding patterns(2). It was not until the Clean Water Act of 1970, with over a million dollars in funding from the Government, that the river would show considerable positive changes in over-all quality. Despite the lingering remnants, like PCBs, mercury, lead, DDT, that still litter its downstream river beds, the the Delaware is now considered one of the healthiest rivers in the continental United States(3). As of 1992, it was national recognized in the Scenic and Wild Rivers Systems, which assuredly promises the continued preservation of the river.


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