A new mapping tool using GIS technology is expected to be a boon to local governments along the Upper Delaware River Corridor, as well for the National Park Service and Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

NARROWSBURG, NY - A new mapping tool using GIS technology is expected to be a boon to local governments along the Upper Delaware River Corridor, as well for the National Park Service and Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

The Council heard a presentation at their April meeting about the map project, from the Shippensburg University Center Use and Sustainability. The National Park Service/ Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River has contracted the University to assemble all of the most current mapping information and convert them into a digital format which will allow much greater efficiency and a higher degree of accurate assessment of sites being studied.

Whenever a significant land use project is being considered in or near the corridor, the UDC must study maps to determine if the project falls within or impacts the federal-designated Upper Delaware corridor. If it does, the Park Service, with the UDC, examines the project to see whether it substantially conforms to the River Management Plan. The UDC then makes recommendations to the Park Service.

The UDC was organized in 1988 to oversee and implement the plan. Projects are reviewed to help ensure there is no compromise or threat to the protected resources of the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River. In particular, they look to see if the project does not follow the Land and Water Use Guidelines in the plan.

These reviews now require handling of mostly paper maps, which can come in a wide variety of scales and quality. Dr. Claire Jentz, Director of the Center, said this requires a “mental overlay” as the reviewer must move from one map to the next. A wide variety of maps showing the same area are needed to show a aspects such as topography, flood hazards, coming, wetlands, individual parcels and the location of the corridor boundary.

This method is both time consuming and somewhat subjective.

Using the Geographic Information System (GIS), project team member Antonia Price explained that any number of these maps may be stacked or layered in a computer program. The map data becomes much more accessible and useable. More accurate visual assessments are possible.

Team member Jonathan Chester demonstrated how the layers work.

Once a project is found to be located inside the corridor and thus subject to review, the UDC looks to see how it may be classified, what county or town it falls, how it impacts local zoning and other ordinances, and its affect on the landscape.

UDC Town of Deerpark representative David Dean asked if there is any disclaimer on the GIS mapping tool. Chester stated that there is, and that the map data they present is only as good as the original data that has been in use. The Center did not manipulate data but use the most current information they were given from the counties and local towns. Jentz said that he they found what appeared to be errors or discrepancies, they went back to the county or town to try and resolve it. She said that the team did not manipulate the data but only worked on how it will be presented.

The Center is hoping to be ready to host workshops in the fall to show how the system operates. In addition to the UDC and Park Service, the counties bordering the Upper Delaware (Wayne, Pike in PA; Delaware, Sullivan and Orange in NY); the local governments of the 15 townships/towns along the Upper Delaware corridor and the two states will have access to the tool. It will, not, however, be available for public use.

The Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River extends 73.4 miles, from just south of Hancock, Delaware County, NY to the railroad bridge at Millrift, Pike County, PA.

Also discussed:

(Project Review Committee) The Kellams-Stalker Bridge is now closed and is expected to reopen in June. A 22 mile detour has been established through Callicoon and across Bridge Street.

The annual UDC raft trip is scheduled for August 5. The paddle will be from Skinners Falls to Ten Mile River, with rendezvous at Lander’s Skinner falls Campground between 9 and 10 a.m. The cost is $27/ adult 9age 12 and up), $17/ child (ages 5-12). Reservations will be due by July 27.

The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at 211 Broad St., Narrowsburg, NY. For more information call 845-252-3022 or see www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.