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Helping Renew the New River

Since 2000, FAU’s Department of Urban & Regional Planning has partnered with the Wildlife Research Team, Broward Urban River Trails and several neighborhood associations to clean up the North Fork of the New River. The 3.5-mile tributary is the only part of the New River that remains in its natural state, yet for many years it was extremely polluted with litter and debris. Thanks to the Adopt-A-Waterway program and participants’ consistent monthly efforts, the area is becoming increasingly cleaner and healthier. The fifth anniversary of the program marks an important milestone for the volunteer team and portends a promising future for the North Fork area.

“The idea of the project is both to promote stewardship for the North Fork and to help revitalize the river,” said Kevin Carter, natural resource specialist III for Broward county and project manager for the Adopt-A-Waterway program. “Not only does this initiative show a caring ethic for our urban waterways, it also encourages environmental activism from the urban center.”

From the 1930s to the 1960s, the North Fork area was the axis of the African-American community in Broward County, a regular site of community events and gatherings. Over time, however, the river has become less and less scenic. The convergence of the Atlantic Ocean salt water and the Everglades fresh water turned the North Fork water brackish. Additionally, construction projects and general littering turned the area into a general dumping ground for Styrofoam cups, metal cans, milk crates, even discarded refrigerators and auto parts. By the start of the new millennium, the area was the most polluted waterway in Broward county.

Fortunately, a lot has changed in the past five years. The community has come together, working alongside FAU students and faculty and other volunteer groups to improve the North Fork area and help restore its vitality. Every month, 30 to 40 Adopt-A-Waterway participants assemble and venture out in canoes to remove debris from the area (see photos).

“A major feat of the Adopt-A-Waterway program has been to increase ecological awareness in our community,” said Dr. Jaap Vos, associate professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. “People are more cognizant of the issues of the river and the surrounding community, the watercourse is far cleaner now and the future of the area shows great promise.”





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