Delaware Water Gap National Park Proposal
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Areas (DWGNRA) is a tremendous natural and recreational asset. People from all over the region and nation come to visit our beautiful Delaware River and enjoy all the DWGNRA has to over. The approximately 4 million visitors each year include a wonderful diversity of people spanning all ages, incomes, ethnicities and race – it is that diversity of enjoyment that are among the greatest values our River offers. The ecological health and low level development within and around the DWGNRA has been key to the exceptional water quality and ecosystem health of the Delaware River and its tributary streams – supporting its Special Protection Waters status that benefits our entire watershed.
A proposal has been made to add the DWGNRA to the National Park system. Specifically the proposal, according to A Draft Proposal to Create the Delaware River National Park and Lenape Preserve, is to:
The existing federal public lands within the existing National Recreation Area will be re-designated in part as the Delaware River National Park and in part as the Lenape National Preserve. No lands or other donations from the nearby states of New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania are required, although the states are encouraged to cooperate and collaborate in the way they determine best for their citizens and for all Americans. The National Park and Preserve is authorized to accept or acquire additional lands from willing sellers and donors to enhance large landscape scale connectivity, to address climate adaptation, to create wildlife corridors, and watershed protection, and to provide recreational equity for the millions of Americans living in urban and suburban areas within a day’s travel. The Lenape Preserve will receive priority for the addition of new lands until the amount of acreage used in the creation of the Delaware River National Park has been replaced by those new lands acquired from willing sellers or donors.
The Lenape Preserve will continue to maintain all the authorities for ecological management invested in the original National Recreation Area. The Delaware River National Park will be managed according to the best available science and the management policies of the National Park Service. Both the Delaware River National Park and the Lenape National Preserve will be managed in the highest tradition of the National Park Service to achieve a resilient landscape, aid in climate change adaptation, provide the infrastructure and facilities needed to manage the visitation, provide for the nature based and history-based recreation, and to create recreational equity for the many millions living nearby and for all Americans and visitors from abroad.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is concerned about the impacts of this proposal and does not currently support securing national park status for the DWGNRA.
Our comments on the draft proposal when first put forth, as well as recent letters communicating our position to the proposal steering committee and the Delaware River Basin Commission can be viewed below.