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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Eye kept on Delaware ice jams

  • Extreme cold led to ice jams on the Upper and Middle sections of the Delaware River, the week of Jan. 6. Caution was given at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) session Thursday, Jan. 9th that a threat of flooding existed here, as was already being experienced downstream at Trenton. As of Monday morning, Jan. 13th, the i...
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  • Extreme cold led to ice jams on the Upper and Middle sections of the Delaware River, the week of Jan. 6. Caution was given at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) session Thursday, Jan. 9th that a threat of flooding existed here, as was already being experienced downstream at Trenton.
    As of Monday morning, Jan. 13th, the ice had not broken in the Upper Delaware. A large area of mostly open water remained where the river widens at Narrowsburg; ice floes dotted the watery landscape like a scene from the Arctic.
    Carol Collier, Executive Director, Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), said that New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which controls the reservoirs emptying into the Upper Delaware, were advised by the National Weather Service Thursday not to release extra water to try and mitigate the ice threat. The situation would be reevaluated the next day, as temperatures rise.
    The National Park Service at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area were getting calls about the ice. Superintendent Sean McGuinness, National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, said that the situation could worsen. Local emergency responder organizations were contacted and would be on alert over the next few days.
    Fred Peckham, UDC's delegate for the Town of Hancock, recalled the large ice jam that broke at Hancock in 1996. "It sounded like a bomb," he said, and an evacuation was made in advance of flooding.
    Collier added that the current situation was "no where near what it was in '96," adding there was still lots of open water.
    At Trenton on Jan. 9th, ABC News reported that huge ice blocks had been collecting against the Trenton bridge for days. Water was backing up behind the ice dam and overflowing the banks on both sides of the Delaware River.
    ••• McGuinness thanked
    This was McGuinness' last UDC meeting, prior to his retirement this month.
    Meeting in Narrowsburg, the UDC issued a "Resolution of Appreciation" to Sean J. McGuinness. Retiring after 37 years with the Park Service, McGuinness started at the Upper Delaware in February 2010. He is the fifth superintendent to serve on the Upper Delaware, created in 1980. He followed John Hutzky, Calvin Hite, David Forney and Vidal Martinez.
    Andrew Boyar, newly elected as UDC's chairman, noted in the Resolution that the Council benefitted from McGuinness' way of engaging the community, embracing the Upper Delaware River corridor's collaborative management model and for his advocacy for the UDC as a Cooperative Agreement partner.
    At the meeting, he was thanked for helping the UDC keep focus for the rights of private land owners, and encouraging dialogue over controversial issues.
    Boyar added that McGuinness campaign spreading the message of wearing life jackets undoubtedly saved lives. McGuinness commented that having five drowning deaths on the river deeply affected him. He said what was most effective in spreading this safety message was being able to work together.
    Page 2 of 2 - No successor has been named for McGuinness, but he said he expects there will be an interim superintendent for 90- 120 days, after which a new superintendent will take over. The UDC has sent a letter to the Park Service urging that a successor be named, by an individual conducive to collaborative relationships. The superintendent for the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, the UDC stresses, must be sensitive to the unique status of the Park Service designation here, with over 90% of the corridor in private land ownership.
    ••• Boyar named
    Andrew Boyar, UDC's Town of Highland representative, was elected chairperson for 2014. He succeeds Jeffrey Dexter of Damascus Township, who served for 2013. Also named were Patricia Jeffer of Shohola Township for Vice-Chairperson and Alan Henry of Berlin Township as Secretary-Treasurer.
    They are slated to take their oath of office at the Feb. 6 meeting.
    In his opening remarks, Boyar, who is 69, noted that he is starting his 5th year on Council along with Town of Highland Alternate Debbie Conway. Researching the history of the UDC, Boyar's memory was refreshed to learn that he played a role in its earliest days.
    Boyar was part of the Conference of Upper Delaware Townships (COUP), a citizens forum that organized after the Upper Delaware was designated in 1978 under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In 1984 Boyar introduced a resolution that COUP eventually transform itself into the proposed council. This finally occurred when the UDC was established on Feb. 22, 1988.
    "Back then implementation of the River Management Plan and the participation of everyone responsible for implementing it still left many open questions," Boyar said. Quoting from a 1988 newspaper article, he added, "So in 1988 unanswered questions remained. Will the 'final' river plan work? Are its guidelines stringent enough? Will they be adhered to by river towns in drafting and enforcing zoning ordinances? Will the Interior Department be forced to implement eminent domain proceedings to protect the river? If forced to condemn property, will the NPS have the political will to do so? can the Upper Delaware be protected?" Boyar then added, "Today (2014) I believe that we can answer 'yes' to those questions."
    He also told Council, "Mindful of our history, I hope we can all agree to commit ourselves to the fullest appreciation of the Upper Delaware River and the importance of being the best caretaker of the river that we can be ... I am confident that our collective resolve will be true and wise."
    Other matters before the UDC will be reported separately. The UDC meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY. For more information call the UDC at 845-252-3022 or visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.

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