A moment of silence was observed for the late Philip Donavan Chase, at the June meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

UPPER DELAWARE - NARROWSBURG, NY - A moment of silence was observed for the late Philip Donavan Chase, at the June meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC). Chase, who died May 9, 2017 at the age of 85, was a tireless advocate for preservation of the Upper Delaware River Corridor’s resources. He represented the Town of Deerpark on the UDC for 17 years, from 1994 to 2014.
A retired science teacher and athletic coach with Port Jervis School District, Chase was an avid fly fisherman and champion of environmental causes. Some of the issues he took on included the successful end to the Tock’s Island Dam project in the 1970’s that would have stopped the free flow of the Delaware River; working directly with New York officials to increase New York City reservoir flows to the Delaware; developing a program to test area water systems for pollution, and pushing for Orange and Rockland reservoir releases which gave new life to the Mongaup River.

As is stated in his obituary, over the years, he received numerous awards for his conservation efforts, and his fly fishing and river knowledge developed to such an extent that he was chosen to guide Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter during a local fly fishing trip to the Delaware.

On the UDC, he served as the vice-chair in 1998 and chairman in 1999, and chaired the Water Use/Resource Management Committee for many years. He typically raised pointed questions at the meetings, concerning management of reservoir water releases and their impact downriver.

Zane Grey property

Superintendent Kris Heister, National Park Service, Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, announced plans to improve the Zane Grey museum property in Lackawaxen. This involves removal of three structures not considered “historical” and in poor condition.

She told the UDC that three structures behind the museum would be removed to “restore the cultural landscape,” “enhance visitor experience” and “improve the visual scene from both land and river.” While meeting these goals, she said it will promote long term fiscal sustainability.

They include:

The Ida & Josephine Grey House, which was built in 1907 for Zane Grey’s mother and sister, but was significantly altered in the 1950’s. The Moran House, which not part of Zane Grey’s heritage but was built after the family sold off a parcel in 1939. The Cottage Kitchen, which was moved there from a former Grey family property but was heavily damaged in the 1942 flood. Only a portion the original is still there.
None of them are on the National Historic Register.

The Park Service allows for funds on resources most important to visitor experience and resource protection, she said, which include taking down a structure they are not willing to maintain. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that they first solicit comment from local historical societies, the county historian and other agency parties, which will take place June 12- July 11. After which, the Park Service will be inviting the general public to comment.

Heister told The News Eagle that this input is necessary before the Park Service may apply for the funds; it may take years before the project is underway.

She stated that this is part of the overall goal to create a visitor center in part of the Zane Grey Museum, which was announced in 2015. Once these structures to the rear of the museum are removed, a future phase will include restoring a sense of the setting that would have been known to Zane Grey when he lived here, which may have included gardens, fencing and a bluestone walkway.
Zane Grey (1872-1939) lived in Lackawaxen, Pa., from 1905 to 1918. He and his family lived at the house facing the Delaware River that was destined as a museum, starting in 1914.

Grey wrote novels here and enjoyed fishing in the river. The house was sold to the Park Service in 1989. As an author he is best known for his popular adventure novels idealizing the Western Frontier. His most famous work is Riders of the Purple Sage (1912).

[Editor’s Note: The Zane Grey Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Labor Day Weekend. For information call 570-685-4871.]

Also discussed

Over Memorial Day Weekend, the National Park Service on the Upper Delaware reported the arrest of four people on the Corwin Farm property for littering and drug possession. The National Canoe Safety Patrol reported 26 rescues, including 23 boats that turned over. Of these, 18 capsized at Skinner’s Falls. A river cleanup is set for Friday, June 16, from 1 to 5 p,m, from Ten Mile River to Lackawaxen. Delaware River Sojourn and the National Park Service hosts the event. The first two days of the annual Delaware River Sojourn are on the Upper Delaware. On Saturday, June 17, the paddlers go from Zane Grey to Corwin Farm. On Sunday, June 18, they paddle from Staircase Access to Matmaoras. Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) supplied water storage data for the New York City reservoirs that feed the Upper Delaware. As of May 26 the combined storage was just above the long-term median, by 1.3 billion gallons. The Cannonsville was at 100.4% capacity; Pepacton, 99.9%; Neversink, 99.8% and Rondout, 98.7%. The City’s target for June 1st is 100%. The observed average flow as measured at the Montague gauge at Milford Beach for May, was 9,062 cubic feet per second (cfs). This was 156.5% of normal. The UDC approved sending a letter to the Sullivan County Visitors Association expressing disappointment that an advertisement the group ran promoting river recreation, showed a kayaker not wearing a life jacket. The UDC called it a “missed opportunity” to promote water safety. The UDC approved a letter to the newly appointed Acting Regional Director of the National Park Service Northeast Region, Joshua Laird, raising his attention to the federal funding problems the UDC is facing.

These include: A depletion of funds in the UDC’s federal allocation due to a current delay in processing modifications to Cooperative Agreements for Fiscal Year 2017; The lack of any adjustment to the UDC’s $300,000 allocation that comes as a line-item appropriation through the NPS Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River budget since the UDC was organized in 1988.

The UDC meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., at the offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY. For information call 845-252-3022 or visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.