Steve Van Deursen and Joe David are committed to working
tirelessly to make sure the Raritan River
is tire less.
That’s just not a cute sentence; it’s literally their mission.
Earlier this month Steve and Joe, who were teenage Eagle Scouts, organized a grassroots efforts to clean up a 10-mile stretch of the Raritan River from Neshanic Station to Raritan. They came up with idea when they took a canoe trip on the river a summer ago and were distressed by what they saw in an otherwise halcyon picture in the middle of crowded aqnd bustling Central Jersey. On their first clean sweep of the longest river within New Jersey’s borders, they, along with scores of volunteers, removed 101 tires and other items from the river.
Because the first cleanup was so successful, Steve and Joe decided to get into the river again on Sunday. Their goal was to collect 100 times. They christened the campaign, “Double Down,” though the two Eagle Scouts probably heard the blackjack phrase only in the movies.
They missed their goal --- by 300 tires.
In all, Steve, Joe, their wives (the two Scouts married two sisters), friends and volunteers who had heard about their “Just 2 Eagle Scouts doing a South Branch / Raritan River Clean-Up Project” collected 406 tires from the river.
”We "Quintupled Down’,” the two exclaimed.
The team of clean river warriors also picked out of the slow-moving summer waters a 32-inch television, a 30-foot I-beam, a wood-burning stove, bicycles, radios, walkers, an office chair, and a number of swimming pool liners.
In addition, the group removed more than 80 bags of recyclables.
”We are just absolutely blown away,” they said. “And what blows us away even more is the number of unbelievably amazing, hard working, dedicated, enthusiastic and supportive volunteers who shared this achievement with us today. We couldn't have done it without you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”
But that’s not enough for Steve and Joe. They are already thinking of organizing another cleanup in September. And in addition, they plan to be in attendance at Raritan Borough's Riverfest on Sept. 29 and at East Millstone's D&R Canalfest on Oct. 19. Future plans will be listed on their Facebook page, facebook.com/100tires.
Besides being grateful for the efforts of the volunteers, Steve and Joe are also deeply appreciative of the support they have received from Bridgewater Township, Raritan Borough and the Somerset County Park Commission. The towns are helping them properly recycle what has been dredged from the Raritan River.