UPPER DELAWARE - New appointments on the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) board, a Pond Eddy Bridge update and a letter to the state on regulating well drilling activities occupied the March UDC session.
    Timothy Dugan, the new District Forester in Pike and Monroe counties, was introduced as the latest Pennsylvania delegate to sit on the UDC board at Narrowsburg. Dugan works for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR).
   The UDC consists of voting members from PA as well as NY, and presently 13 of the 15 local governments which border on the Upper Delaware River. The Delaware River Basin Commission is a non-voting member. The UDC was incorporated in 1988 to oversee the implementation of the River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River. The UDC works together with the National Park Service under a cooperative agreement.

••• Discusses Emerald Ash Borer

    By way of introduction, Dugan stated that he oversees the Delaware State Forest in Pike and Monroe, which covers approximately 86,000 acres. He was asked by other Council members about the threat of invasive species in local forests, particularly the Emerald Ash Borer.
   Dugan stated that the Emerald Ash Borer has mainly stayed west of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. He said that to maintain species diversity, the DCNR does not advise a woodland owner to cut down every ash tree before an infestation could begin. If one has a chance, however, it may do well to cut more than normal, up to 10 percent.
  Ash trees that a property owner considers special and wishes to protect, cam use a soil drench pesticide, which is a cheaper and easier method to ward off the borer, but is only short term. One may also use a stem injection, which lasts about three years. The smaller the tree, the more chance to keep the tree alive, he said.
   Ash trees have been affected only here and there in Pennsylvania, because they are more sparse than in the Midwest, where the Emerald Ash Borer has been able to move quickly. Dugan said that typically, two percent of a tree species is hardy enough to outlast a major outbreak.

••• Park Service report

    Malcolm Wilbur is serving as the Interim Superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River/ National Park Service (NPS). He presented a video about the centennial of the Park Service, which is being celebrated in 2016. He asked for input from the UDC to help recognize the anniversary locally.
    A recently released report about the economic impact created by the NPS for 2012 shows that visitors to the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River generated $10,152,200 in the region. There were 255,586 visitors counted. "Ten million dollars is a decent chunk of change," Wilbur observed, adding he anticipates the number to go up.
   He stated that the Upper Delaware NPS is working on creation of digitized maps of the federal River Corridor, using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology.
   Progress is being made on digital reproduction and cataloging of old audio tapes the NPS produced, containing oral histories of people who lived in the River Corridor. Wilbur noted that the concept  of intellectual property rights has changed in the 20 or 30 years since the tapes were recorded.  The NPS is looking to see if the modern venue of the Internet is covered should the oral histories ever be put online.
    Oral histories that include memories of fishing in the Delaware are being done first. They will be made available for listening at the Zane Grey Museum, home of Zane Grey who was an avid angler in addition to being a western novelist.

••• Letter to the EQB

   After much debate, the UDC approved a comment letter to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) about proposed changes to 25 PA Code Chapter 78. This section refers to public resources and additional requirements for wells which may affect those resources.
  The UDC asks the EQB to include National Wild & Scenic Rivers (which includes the Upper Delaware) that are a part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The UDC also states that the 15 day time frame in the proposed regulations for an applicant to submit a plan for a new well, to be much too short. Sufficient time must be allowed to adequately review an application and make comment for an informed decision.
The proposed regulation also allows the EQB to attach conditions should the proposed well, well site or access road pose harmful impacts to the public resource. The UDC calls on the EQB to consider the associated condition's impact on the applicant's ability to exercise its property rights in regard to optimal development of the oil or gas resource. There is also no option provided in the proposed ruling for the EQB to deny an application should sufficient evidence be found that the proposed well project would significantly degrade the public resource, where conditions don't provide adequate protection. The UDC recommends the addition of that option for denial.

••• Pond Eddy Bridge

   •  Repairs to the Pond Eddy suspension bridge was to begin March 17th, and continue to May 8. Forty stringers are to be replaced. The bridge is slated to be replaced in 2017.
• Joseph Delmalderis is the newly appointed representative to the UDC for Westfall Township, Pike County. The seat has been vacant since 2012.
• The UDC annual Awards Banquet is being held April 27 in Eldred, NY. Contact the UDC for full information.
• NPS should be responsible for an Early Warning System in the River Corridor in the event of a crisis such as a dam break, suggested Fred Peckham, UDC delegate for the Town of Hancock. Al Henry, Berlin Township, advised that the adequate notification already exists in local emergency management plans.
   George Fluhr, Shohola Township, recalled that about 15 years ago, local fire departments met at the Tusten Town Hall to devise an emergency response plan for railroad incidents. Peckham urged that the UDC take the lead and coordinate a new emergency action plan. The matter will be taken up by the committees.
 • The UDC is hosting a free workshop entitled "Siting Communication Towers in the Scenic Upper Delaware River Valley." The workshop is set for Saturday, March 29, from 9 a.m. to noon at Tusten Town Hall, Narrowsburg.  Continental breakfast is provided.
Speakers include Frank Yoder, PA State Police Broadband Services Manager; David Church, AICP Planning Commission Orange County, NY and Richard Comi, co-owner of the Center for Municipal Solutions.
For more information on the UDC or its programs and topics, call 845-252-3022. Visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org. The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at their offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY.