Due to the federal government shutdown, as of October 1st, the two National Park Service units along the Delaware River in the northeastern Poconos are shut down. In addition, Grey Towers National Historic Site near Milford is closed for the duration.
Facilities, programs and grounds are closed at both the Upper Delaware Scenic Recreational River and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Superintendent Sean McGuiness, who oversees the Upper Delaware segment, said just prior tot the shutdown that only five park rangers will be available for emergency services. The Zane Grey Museum and the lots at the Roebling Bridge, as well as their offices are closed.
McGuiness stated that scheduled programs are postponed, as we well as water quality monitoring that they were supposed to do.
The web sites for both the Upper Delaware Scenic Recreational River and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are shut down.
Commercial liveries that use the Middle Delaware for canoe and raft trips are affected by the shutdown, said Allen Crouthamel, Operations Manager for Kittatiny Canoes.
While Kittatiny still is able to conduct river trips north of Milford, a major share of their river trip business is suspended through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Crouthamel stated that while they have a launch point just north of the Park in the Milford area, they have no way to access the river south point of that with the Park closed. They would be unable to pick up the canoe or raft users after their paddle trip.
The closure comes at the height of the Fall Foliage Season, when liveries hope customers will enjoy a trip down the river, their paddles making ripples in the reflection of the glorious colors of autumn.
Not only are liveries affected by the Park's closure, he reminded that a lot of other businesses will be impacted, including restaurants and lodging places. Crouthamel made the point that commercial liveries pay a permit fee to the National Park Service, yet are unable to use the river.
Crouthamal also took note that last spring, when there was so much talk about Sequestration and the federal budget crisis threatening to keep Milford Beach closed for the season, liveries including Kittatiny, as well as the pipeline company Kinder Morgan, donated funds to keep the beach open. Now, the beach, which is operated by the Park Service, is closed due to the government shutdown.
Liveries in the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, such as Landers, have a different situation, in that most of the land is in private hands where they still have access to the river. Superintendent McGuiness also notified the liveries ahead of the shutdown that law enforcement rangers would still be on duty and available in a river emergency.
Page 2 of 2 - The Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau (PMVB) notes that the shutdown affects the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), and Grey Towers National Historic Site.
Grey Towers, which is administered by the United States Forest Service, held a 50th anniversary celebration in late September, which fortunately occurred before the federal shutdown. The Grey Towers web site is still functioning, although a notice on the home page states that Grey Towers National Historic Site is now closed due to the federal budget lapse.
The PMVB stresses to visitors that there are many other options available, while enjoying the peak of the fall colors. These include a visit at one of the state parks, which remain open.
Pocono visitor information is available at www.800poconos.com.