By Chelsea Ingram

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In Philadelphia, we see the Delaware River from highways, bridges, office windows and even from parks, but sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate its purpose and need for protection. So the CBS3 Green Team suited up and paddled out to experience the river from a different perspective.

The Delaware River is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi River, and there is a special group of people with an important mission to keep the river healthy and alive.

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“So the Delaware River keeper is really the lead advocate for the main stem Delaware River and all the tributaries that feed it,” said Mya Van Rossum, who is the Delaware River keeper. “It also means that I am the leader of an organization known as the Delaware River Keeper Network.”

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Whenever there is a challenge that faces the health of the river, whether that be environmental degradation, pollution or taking of critical species from the river, the role of the keeper network is to “fight the good fight,” Van Rossum said.

The paddle started with a safety class at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park before a seven-mile mission downstream.

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“The paddle is about educating people about the importance of water quality, healthy river systems and of migratory fish,” Van Rossum said. “Getting people out on the water so they can actually experience what it’s like to have such a beautiful river like the Delaware.”

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“I just am so glad people are doing this,” said Temple University student Michelle Hurtubise. “To not know a lot but to come in and be invited into the community where people work and commit their whole lives on the water, the fish and the environmental issues in the area.”

Nearly 8 million people live within the Delaware Estuary Watershed, many depending on it for food and drinking water.

To learn more about the Delaware River and where the river meets the sea, you can visit to get involved.

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If you have a green story you’d like to share with the CBS3 Green Team, you can submit it to us by visiting our website