NARROWSBURG- Balancing the protection of private property rights and protecting the Upper Delaware were debated at length Thursday night at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC). In the end, both aspects were given equal emphasis in their state top priority, in the UDC’s updated 5-Year Plan. They adopted as their role, to “Protect the unique scenic, cultural and natural resource values of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and its immediate environs while protecting private property rights.” This statement was adopted as the first priority among a list of issues, designed to give context for writing the 5-Year Plan. Since the workshop, the 5-year plan has been re-hashed in committee meetings. Harold Roeder Jr., Town of Delaware representative, said that the UDC was here to partner with the Park Service, to protect the river resources and to protect private property rights. “We should not diminish one over the other,” he stressed, but rather the two should work in concert. David Dean, representative for the NY Town of Deerpark, reminded that the private land belongs to the people who pay the taxes, not the Park Service. “...It belongs to the people who pay their bills those are the people you need to protect,” he said. The Council gave another chance at a vote to adopt the plan after a June 23rd workshop where several members were absent. The membership present at that time voted in favor of defending property rights but did not refer to protection of the river resources. Sensitivity over defending landowner rights has been connected with the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River since the national designation was bestowed here in 1978. Concerns ran high in the mid-70’s, that a traditional national park would not be created, as occurred in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, claiming private properties for a park land. Instead, a unique arrangement was established, with the National Park Service having jurisdiction limited to the river and the small tracts where their facilities are located. Over 85% of the 55,575.5 acres of land in 73.4 mile river corridor remains privately owned. The UDC was formed in 1988 as a formal partnership of local state and federal governments and agencies, to manage the River Management Plan governing the Upper Delaware. That Plan was written with commitment to local land use controls and voluntary actions by landowners to protect the resources on their own land rather than federal ownership. The 5-Year Plan is available on the UDC website at www.upperdelawarecouncil.org (click “Publications”). The listed priorities are included as an appendix to the document.
• A resolution was passed to honor David Soete, Senior Resource Specialist for the UDC, who is retiring at the end of September. The Honesdale resident was hired in1989. • The Upper Delaware unit of the National Park Service and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area unit are finding ways to collaborate, said Sean McGuinness, Superintendent, Upper Delaware. In this age of tighter budgets, the two Park Service units are hoping to help each other and avoid duplication, McGuinness noted. Some areas of cooperation can include river water sampling, GIS mapping and cultural resource programs. Superintendent John Donahue, Delaware Water Gap, was coming the next day for a paddle trip on the Upper Delaware and to meet with McGuinness. The Upper Delaware chief said this is the first time this kind of “face to face” collaboration has been done. • Buckingham Township Planning Commission invited UDC and the Park Service to meet with them to explore membership in the UDC. This was a welcome opportunity, said Laurie Ramie, UDC Executive Director. In recent years, Damascus and Berlin townships joined the UDC, the first from Wayne County to accept seats at the table. Only Buckingham and Manchester in northern Wayne have not joined. Lackawaxen, Shohola and Westfall townships in Pike, which border the Upper Delaware section, have been members since the early days, as has all the New York towns on the other side of the river. • PA Gov. Tom Corbett made a pleasure trip to the Upper Delaware on Oct. 23, paddling the river. The Governor’s Office and Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau coordinated the event. Some of the UDC members were concerned that the Park Service did not invite a UDC representative on the kayak trip, although Ramie had a brief chance to meet the Governor and explain the UDC’s mission, while touring the Park Service’s Zane Grey Museum. Ramie sent a letter to the Governor thanking him for his trip and interest in the natural resources of the area. She invited the Governor to sometime meet with the UDC to discuss river valley issues, concerns, and opportunities. While in the area. Corbett dined at the Inn at Lackawaxen, and later that day visited Promised Land State Park.
The UDC may be contacted at (845)252-3022. The 16 priority issues for the 5-Year Plan are posted online at www.neagle.com.
UDC backs private property rights, river