NARROWSBURG- This year, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), a federally mandated non-profit organization that oversees the River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River.
Their anniversary will set the theme for the annual awards banquet, which recognizes individuals and organizations who have contributed to the quality of life and protection of cherished values placed on the Upper Delaware River corridor. The banquet is set for Sunday, April 28, at the Inn at Lackawaxen. The UDC has again invited the public to make nominations for awards; these are due March 15.
Contact the UDC for information.
Laurie Ramie, UDC Executive Director, discussed anniversary ideas at the Feb. 7th Council session. They have not yet announced a keynote speaker for the banquet but an invitation has been extended to PA Governor Tom Corbett. Ramie noted that Corbett visited the Upper Delaware last year and immensely enjoyed his paddle trip; he visited the Zane Grey Museum and had lunch at the Inn at Lackawaxen. The UDC would like to further talk with the Governor about the essential role the UDC plays in watching over the valued assets of the river corridor, and the many issues the corridor faces.
She stated she has a "plan B" should the Governor not be able to attend.
Other 25th anniversary ideas being examined are t-shirts promoting the UDC, and a 5K run/walk in the fall. The latter proposal is being investigated by Travis O’Dell, UDC Resource Specialist. At the recent Operations Committee meeting, O’Dell said he has been researching what is involved in planning a race, including sponsorships, permits, insurance, registration and coordination, among other aspects.
O’Dell said he does not want to compete with a 5K event held in the fall over the Barryville Bridge, hosted by the Boy Scouts. They would like to include a bridge, so that runners and walkers could set foot in both states. There was jesting over the idea that "if" any bridges were open at that time, since several bridge repair projects are underway or will be this year.
The anniversary is expected to play a part in the kick-off of the annual Delaware River Sojourn, set June 22-24. Zane Grey Museum in Lackawaxen will be the focus of the events in this part of the Sojourn route.
Carla Hahn, Assistant Superintendent, National Park Service, summarized repair projects planned by PennDOT for several Upper Delaware bridges:
• While the Pond Eddy Bridge is still expected to be replaced, PennDOT is about to commence repairs to the span, replacing 14 steel stringers. The bridge will be closed on a set daily schedule while work progresses in late February or early March.
• Skinners Falls Bridge is currently closed. Serious maintenance work is required, to replace numerous stringers and restore the bridge so that it flexes. Work is expected to be completed by May 2013.
• Narrowsburg Bridge failed a recent inspection. Starting in mid-March, the bridge will be reduced to one lane, with a limited weight load. The whole span will be opened each night. Once emergency work is done, however, the bridge will be kept as one lane until full repairs to the deck are undertaken, in 2014 or 2015.
• Restoration of Kellam’s Bridge is slated for 2014.
More rest rooms
Among other business discussed:
• Brian Stuart, representative for Lackawaxen Township, urged that more toilet facilities be identified along the Upper Delaware, noting over 300,000 people paddle or float down the river every year. As a river-front property owner, he is aware of the problem of river users trespassing. Hahn stated that the Park Service has portable facilities at several access areas and at the Roebling Bridge. There are also two in the Town of Highland that are not at all advertised. Ramie stated that they plan to update the UDC map and guide pamphlet, and would like to indicate where facilities can be found.
• Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is changing their meeting format to a two-day event. Usually held at their West Trenton offices, the first day would be set aside to take public testimony on the numerous agenda dockets. The DRBC Commissioners would then consider taking matters to a vote on the second day, having given themselves more time to consider the testimony. The first of these two-day sessions is set for March 5-6.
• DRBC Commissioners are still working on natural gas regulations and the role of the Commission, said DRBC Director Carol Collier.
• The Park Service will continue its safety campaign this year, urging river users to wear life jackets. Electronic billboards and social media will be employed. Hahn stated that a survey showed that at Skinners Falls, 90 percent of river users were wearing life jackets, but at other points on the Upper Delaware, usage fell to 40 percent. The Park Service will be studying the data.
• Openings exist on the UDC for a representative and alternate representative representing Westfall Township in Pike County.
• At the start of the meeting, PA Senator Lisa Baker administered the oath of office for Jeffrey Dexter, newly elected UDC chairman. Dexter is the UDC representative for Damascus Township and chairs the Township Board of Supervisors.
Senator Baker also administered the oaths of office to Vice-Chairperson Andrew Boyar of the Town of Highland, NY; and to Secretary-Treasurer John B. Niflot of the Town of Fremont, NY.
• As of Feb. 7, the New York City reservoirs feeding the Upper Delaware were at 89.3% capacity; the norm for this time of year is 82.0%.
The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. At the Council offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY. The office may be contacted at (845)252-3022; visit online at