Having freshly survived a second round of delayed federal funding in less than a year, Upper Delaware Council (UDC) has not let up on reminding the states of Pennsylvania and New York of their long-ignored agreement to each fund 20% of the UDC’s annual budget.
NARROWSBURG, NY – Having freshly survived a second round of delayed federal funding in less than a year, Upper Delaware Council (UDC) has not let up on reminding the states of Pennsylvania and New York of their long-ignored agreement to each fund 20% of the UDC’s annual budget.
Wayne and Pike counties’ shared eastern boundary follows the meandering Upper Delaware section of the Delaware River, with 73.4 miles of the border within the corridor of the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River.
This time they are sending a letter, not to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office, but to the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) to ask that this agency include the UDC as a budget line item.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is represented on the UDC membership roll by Tim Dugan, District Forester for the Delaware State Forest District, PA DCNR, as well as by Rhonda Manning, River Basin Program Coordinator, Interstate Water Office, PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). At the February UDC meeting, Dugan recommended sending an appeal letter to the DCNR.
UDC’s Director, Laurie Ramie, noted at their March 1st meeting that the UDC had been attempting to ask the Pennsylvania governors for funding for 29 years, without success. Letters to the New York governors have also been to no avail.
As noted in the letter to Secretary Cindy Adams, Secretary, PA DCNR, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required by law to support the UDC’s role in overseeing and implementing the federally-approved River Management Plan (RMP) for the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River. The 20% share in operating aid from each state is contained in the 1986 RMP. The purpose is to facilitate the state’s goals to “ensure the quality of the [river corridor’s] environment, and the wise use of its valuable and unique natural resources.”
An executive order in 1989 signed by Governor Robert P. Casey and amended in 2003 by Governor Edward G. Rendell, states the Commonwealth’s interest in supporting the Upper Delaware Scenic River Management Plan. It designates that the DCNR is the state agency to receive and administer federal grants for implementing the management of the Upper Delaware Federal Scenic River.
The UDC serves to coordinate the partnership of federal, state, local governments and stakeholders that oversee management and conservation of the RMP. When the Upper Delaware was established as a unit of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System in 1978, the expectation was that costs would be split, 60% by the federal government and 40% by the two states.
The federal share of $300,000 is budgeted annually by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a line item through the National Park Service. Related to a new, Department-wide review process by the Department of the Interior of certain Cooperative Agreements, funding was held up in FY 2017 and FY 2018, both times which may have caused a forced closure of the UDC is funds had not been released on time. The federal funding has remained flat through the 30 year history of the UDC.
“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s provision of operating funds would significantly bolster the UDC’s overall mission to conserve this precious resource for our present and future generations of proud landowners, river valley residents, and over a half-million visitors per year who come to enjoy our recreation, scenery and rural communities,” the UDC letter states.
Town of Tusten’s UDC representative, Susan Sullivan, recommended keeping regular contact with the NY legislators about New York’s missed funding responsibility. Council agreed to send another letter to them.
On February 8, the UDC received the glad news that the federal allocation for FY 2018 had been released. Due since October 1, 2017, the UDC on February 1st finalized plans to lay off staff and close operations by March 30 unless funding was received. Word was related on the 8th by both Congressman Faso and Park Service Superintendent Kris Heister that the Department had completed its review and was releasing the funds.
UDC Chairman Aaron Robinson, at the March 1st meeting, expressed thanks to both Congressman Faso and to Superintendent Heister for interceding for the Council.
The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at their offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY. For information on the UDC visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org; they may be reached at 845-252-3022.