Interviews with people who live, work, and play in the Delaware River and its surrounding lands

The River’s Voices

John “Jake” Jacobi

Owner of Adventure Sports
Hometown: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

“The Delaware is a special river. It’s so close to big metropolitan areas, but when you’re out here, you might as well be in Alaska. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area helps keep it undeveloped.”

“I’ve been on the Delaware River since the early 60s. Actually, my first trip down the river was in 1956 with Explorer Scouts. I’d like to tell my scout master how much I appreciate what he did. That trip got the river in my blood. Then I started Adventure Sports in 1969 to guide trips along the Delaware. I’m almost 78 years old now, and I get on the river any chance I get.”

“Every year there is a river clean up when people come out and get all the plastic, tires, and trash. The river’s pretty clean in general, but occasionally there’s trash. The river bottom is pretty darn pristine, and I’m thankful for that. I love to snorkel the river. In the summer the water gets crystal clear and you can see the fish and look at the bottom of the river. As much use as it gets, it’s a very clean river.”

“I’ve had many fun times on the Delaware River, but the one I remember most was back in college. A friend and I had gone to Delaware Water Gap to do some rock climbing. It was February, and the river was frozen solid. Well, we’re sitting up on this cliff and all of a sudden it sounds like bombs going off. All of the ice begins breaking up and these huge ice floes start moving down the river. We decided – we were only 19 years old – it would be fun to ride one of the ice floes. But once we got on, we got swept into the middle of the river and started going over rapids. All of a sudden, there are police cars and fire trucks on the road next to the river, but they couldn’t launch a boat because it would’ve been crushed. After about 8 miles, we passed under a bridge and the rescuers lowered ropes 50-60 feet down that we had to hang onto so they could pull us up. Our college dean wasn’t too thrilled with us because we were all over the news!

“It’s been a wonderful journey through life spent on the river.”


Bill Hobbs

Professional Artist & Biology teacher at Bangor Area High School
Hometown: Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania

“I’ve been here in Pennsylvania for 25 years. In that time, I’ve seen a lot more development encroaching on the riparian buffers. A lot of housing developments are going in on old agricultural land. That land used to be farmland but it’s been allowed to return to forests. But now there are lots and lots of housing developments going in on that land and building right up to the smaller waterways that flow into the Delaware River.”

“I’m also worried about threats from the fracking industry. There’s a big push to start fracking in the North Pocono area, and that raises concerns about the effect up there. In the Susquehanna watershed to the west, fracking has muddied up a lot of streams. Fortunately, people have been getting upset and speaking out, so it hasn’t gotten into full swing.”

“The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlands Conservancy, as well as the new Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, are doing a lot to conserve land. And the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has done a lot to protect the greenway along the Delaware River. But once you’re out of the National Park Service land, development becomes an issue.”

“My art is inspired by the natural word, especially moving water. It’s the whole field of inspiration behind everything I paint. That goes way back. I’ve always been fond of aquatic biology. I began SCUBA diving when I was very young, and snorkeling in streams, lakes, and rivers. I think I enjoy chasing fish more than catching them! And a lot of my graduate-level coursework is in aquatic biology.”

“Getting out in nature to me is refreshment, rejuvenation. It’s reconnecting to something unpolluted, unspoiled, undisturbed. I love the diversity of life you find around water. The more unspoiled the area, the greater the diversity. When I’m out there, I feel excitement and wonder, and that’s what I hope to convey in my paintings is that wonder for intricacy and complexity in the natural world.”


Marie Liu

Professional Artist, Resident Artist 2015/16 for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Hometown: Milford, Pennsylvania

“I am particularly connected to the region I live in. I have a relationship with this region and my paintings reveal that. The reason I love it so much is that such a significant portion is left wild and accessible to the public. I have lived in highly developed areas but don’t feel connected to that type of landscape. I need nature in its wild and healthy state to find my best inspiration for painting and for my well-being.”

“When I’m in the woods I feel calm, peaceful, inspired, connected and in awe of nature’s beauty. I love walking slowly and observing the little things, like plants, mushrooms, bugs, that are easily overlooked. I also enjoy bringing visitors to some of the beautiful natural treasures of our area.”

“A favorite place/experience is a high overlook on the riverbank from which one can observe a rare whirlpool. From here I have watched in awe as the winter winds and chunks of ice swirled the river into large waves and a cacophony of ice sheets swirling and banging into each other. From this site, I also watched a bear on an island jump into the frozen water and swim to the other side.”


Regina Nicolardi

Professional Photographer
Hometown: White Haven, Pennsylvania

“I pretty much grew up in the Lehigh River area, and I’ve definitely seen certain areas change over the last 10 years or so. When you drove down the Lehigh River Valley, it was heavily mined, and a lot of the foliage had died out. But now the area is starting to make a little bit of a rebirth. When people started running the Lehigh River years ago, they would talk about one side being polluted because of mines. But today we have seen an uptick in outdoor recreation and fishing, and that’s a good sign.”

“Water is life. It’s that simple. (laughing) I wish it were that simple, to be honest. I grew up loving water, first the ocean and now rivers. Obviously, we need healthy forests to protect our water and the ecology surrounding it. We need a healthy planet. We’re not on that path, but we’re making strides, and we need to keep making those strides.”

“In this country, we’re always going to have industry, but there has to be a balance. Everything is a balance. When you see how Pennsylvania has bounced back; coal mining and logging are our history. This whole area is old river, mining, and logging towns. But now we’re getting into tourism, which is great for the economy. But we need to keep a balance between the industry near our natural resources and the health of the environment.”

“When I’m in nature, I feel peaceful. Being around moving water. Being in sun-dappled wet forest. A lot of my work is done from a home office, so when I need a break, I take my bike out. I hike or kayak. It gives me a sense of calm. Or if you’re doing something strenuous, like a tough hike, you get those endorphins that are great. So much humility is found in nature. It helps you remember you’re so small in the grand scheme of things.”


Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis

Fishing guide with the Delaware River Club
Hometown: Utica, New York. Lives and works in Starlight, Pennsylvania during the spring and summer

“The Upper Delaware River system consists of the east and west branch, and water from the two reservoirs on those branches, Cannonsville and Pepacton, form the main stem of the Delaware that flows down to Philadelphia and provides drinking water for all of New York City. For that reason, they don’t frack around there as much as they would other places in order to keep the water clean.”

“As a fishing guide and a member of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River, the adverse thing we’re fighting now is to combat dam releases. The river up there is tailwater, with the water released from the bottom of the dam, so it’s always cold. Cold water helps the fish and insects survive and thrive. But one day the river will be flowing at 800 cfs (cubic feet per second), and the next day it’s at 5000 cfs. These arbitrary releases make it difficult for trout to acclimate and reproduce, and that impacts economics. People come up here to fish a certain hatch, but then find out those hatches are interrupted because of releases.”

“The other thing impacting the ecosystem and the catch rate now is that there’s so many people, so much pressure. You can go out some days and there’s 50 boats on a 20-mile stretch of river. And the thing is, the fish here are not stocked. They’re all brown and rainbow and all wild. That’s why we’re so protective of the river and fish.”

“To me, being on the river is a cathartic experience. I’m at ease, I can forget about any pressures at home. The great part is, trout don’t know if you’re a doctor or lawyer or a teacher. They don’t care what you do. It’s humbling. I can go out and guide and catch 6-12 fish one day and go back the next day and get skunked. It’s not predictable, so it keeps it fun. The river’s like a mistress. Guys leave their families at home, go out there and forget about life. There’s a bond with the river that’s unbreakable.”

“One time I had a client on the main stem of the Delaware. His kid was in the front, and he was in the back of the boat. We were throwing streamers, and when the dad stripped his line, I saw a huge flash. I yelled, “That’s the biggest brown trout I’ve ever seen!” He missed it but he threw his line back in and pulled in a 26-inch tiger trout. They’re not supposed to be here, and definitely not supposed to be that big, so I had to contact a bunch of biologists.”

Take Action

If you live, work or play in in one of the townships below, you can take action now to help improve the health and conservation of the Delaware River.


Upper Bern
Upper Tulpehocken
East Penn
Lower Towamensing
Middle Smithfield
Upper Mt. Bethel
West Penn Township

New Jersey


Call or email your local officials and tell them you support clean water and the protection of local rivers and streams by requiring vegetative and forested buffers along their banks that are at least 100 feet wide.

Thank you for protecting the Delaware River to ensure everyone has safe and fun outdoor experiences!