Belcher’s Creek may again be for recreation

| 28 Mar 2019 | 12:08

    WEST MILFORD – Enthusiasm to restore a local public water body to its former pristine quality with availability for swimming, boating and fishing continues to grow.
    The West Milford Environmental Commission volunteers have been testing the creek’s water for three years and its movement to bring the clear, clean water back to the lake is getting a great deal of encouragement. The Greenwood Lake Commission is working with them and other volunteers are expected to also help.
    The Township of West Milford Council recently passed a resolution authorizing the Environmental Commission to submit and accept a 2019 ANJEC Open Space Stewardship Grant for the project “Belcher’s Creek Cleanup Recreational Enhancement Project” in the amount of $1,462.
    The project includes converting little used open space along Belcher’s Creek for recreational area for the community, enhancing a major tributary leading to Greenwood Lake and monitoring phosphorus and nitrate levels in the creek to improve the overall health of Greenwood Lake.
    The purpose of the grant is to advance local open space stewardship and to help raise the profile of the Environmental Commission in the community through publicity and public participation or collaboration with local groups in the project.
    No cash match is required with a minimum of 80 hours of volunteer labor to be provided by the Environmental Commission, Greenwood Lake Commission and other community groups with two-thirds of the grant money paid to the Environmental Commission initially and the rest of the money when the project is complete.
    The project is designed to encourage local ecotourism, help to stimulate recreation opportunities and promote healthy water bodies through continuous monitoring and collection of nitrate and phosphorus along the creek corridor.
    Bea Kettlewood is one who remembers long ago fun times on Belcher’s Creek.
    The mention of that water body stirred up her memories.
    Kettlewood, from Pequannock Township, was friendly with Peggy Sando, a West Milford classmate at Butler High School.
    Sando lived on the west shore at the south end of Greenwood Lake and now resides in Colorado.
    “A small group of us would visit Peggy on weekends,” Kettlewood said. “The Sandos had a large canoe and we would all get into it and paddle down to Belcher’s Creek. One time one of the girls jumped out of the canoe for a swim. When she tried to get back in the canoe it was a problem for us all.”
    The late Joseph Susen recalled the Belcher’s Creek of long ago too with camps there for weekend visitors from the cities.
    “The crystal clear waters of Belcher’s Creek and Greenwood Lake were full of fish- pickerel, trout, catfish, bass and perch,” he said in 1976. “Those once very clean waters were where we swam too for so many years. Now (1976) it is dirty and overgrown with weeds.”