[The following letter from the Upper Delaware Council was directed to Michael Caldwell, Deputy Regional Director, National Park Service Northeast Region, U.S. Custom House 5th Floor, 200 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106-2878]
RE: NPS Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Superintendent Vacancy
Dear Deputy Director Caldwell,
As Upper Delaware (UPDE) Scenic and Recreational River Superintendent Sean McGuinness prepares to retire effective January 24, 2014, the Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) would like to offer some insight into the special qualities that made Sean’s tenure so successful and that we encourage you to actively seek in naming his successor.
The superintendent sets the tone for the relationship that the community has with the National Park Service. In Sean’s four years, he cultivated positive interactions with local, county, state, and federal government officials; reached out to community and school groups; and offered an open ear to all individuals. He communicated honestly, requested feedback, listened to the input, and enthusiastically participated in events. Sean advocated for the UDC and other Cooperative Agreement partners, while setting appropriate expectations for optimum effectiveness by contractors and the UPDE staff. Perhaps most importantly, he understood and embraced the cooperative management model set forth in the Upper Delaware’s enabling legislation and in the River Management Plan.
The Foundation Document purpose statement that UPDE staff, with invited representation from the UDC, diligently developed in May 2013 reflects a distinction under which this park unit was created by Congress in 1978 and which Sean excelled at supporting: collaborative partnerships.
"The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River protects, conserves, and enhances the free-flowing character, exceptionally high water quality, and the scenic, recreational, ecological, cultural, and geological values of the Upper Delaware River valley through collaborative partnerships."
The fact that over 90% of the 55,575.5 acres within the bi-state, five-county Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River designated boundary remains privately owned requires sensitivity by the superintendent to accept that land use stewardship is based at the grassroots level and NPS jurisdiction is limited. Collaboration is therefore an absolute necessity.
Over the past 35 years, UPDE has benefited from consistent leadership with only five superintendents at the helm of this park unit (John Hutzky; Calvin Hite; David Forney; Vidal Martinez; and Sean McGuinness). The UPDE staff has shown remarkable stability too, with many dedicated employees choosing to spend the majority of their careers here. Their assimilation into the local community nurtures a comfort level which helps to counteract any lingering suspicions over federal interests in the river valley and promotes trusting unity.
The National Park Service has recognized and respected that the Upper Delaware has its own particular character, needs, and interests that justify administration as an autonomous entity reportable to the Regional Director. As the river corridor faces ongoing development pressures, resource threats, opportunities to brand itself with a regional identity, increase public safety, and provide enjoyable experiences for visitors, these critical issues all require strong, focused engagement from its federal partner.
Page 2 of 2 - We encourage fellow Upper Delaware River Valley stakeholders to also express their wish lists of traits for the next superintendent that they believe will best serve our collective mission with the National Park Service to conserve, interpret, and enhance this special place that we call home.
On behalf of the Upper Delaware Council board and staff, thank you for this opportunity to share our organization’s perspective on this tremendously important decision. We are hopeful that the superintendent’s position will be filled as expeditiously yet thoughtfully as possible.
Laurie Ramie, Executive Director
(845) 252-3022 or