Delaware Water Gap could become a national park
NORTHERN NEW JERSEY – Nestled between New Jersey and Pennsylvania lies approximately 70,000 acres of wooded paradise, the Delaware River meandering through the mountains as a resource for recreational adventures and wildlife.
Known as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, more than five million visitors flock to this outdoor mecca each year to hike, fish, cycle, camp, hunt, swim, kayak or paddle. canoeing, picnicking, discovering the history of the region and soaking up the views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls.
While the National Park Service has a place on its hosted website for this recreation area, even referring to it as a “park” in the contact section of the web page for its location in Bushkill, the park’s nickname does not. part of the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area’s official title.
John Donahue, who previously worked in the recreation area as a park superintendent for 14 years, recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “This place, basically, is already a national park.”
He said the National Park Service began overseeing the area in 1975 after a concept by the US Army Corps of Engineers to create a drinking water reservoir for Philadelphians and New Yorkers collapsed, after environmentalists have disputed the idea.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Sierra Club chapters of New Jersey and Pennsylvania have rallied behind the change, John Kashwick, the New Jersey branch vice president, told the Inquirer the Sierra Club has been targeting him ever since. almost 10 years. .
The Sierra Club has a campaign on its Grassroots Network website, where people can join the support team to help elevate the recreation area to national park stature.
“There are so many people who could be served by this park,” Kashwick told the publication, suggesting that with New York City around 70 miles away and Philadelphia around 100 miles away, residents of both cities would benefit from a park. national.
Kashwick said that in the eastern half of the country, nine national parks exist.
Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Vice President Donald Miles told the Inquirer that the Delaware Water Gap receives about the same number of visitors each year as Yellowstone National Park, which spans parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and is famous for its Old Faithful Geyser. However, Water Gap’s budget is only $ 8.2 million, according to National Park Service statistics, against Yellowstone, which in 2019 received $ 74.5 million in federal funding.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and more seeking fresh air and outdoor recreation to overcome the lockdown gloom, the recreation area has seen an increase in visitor numbers, Donahue reported to the Inquirer. In turn, finding parking became a challenge, and access to Water Gap waterfalls like Raymondskill – Pennsylvania’s towering falls – was closed as a result. Donahue countered that a national park designation could provide more money in Water Gap coffers to address parking issues and increase access to attractions, as well as allow the recreation area to charge a price for entrance, as do many national parks.
Representatives from the Sierra Club of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are pushing forward to seek support, according to the Inquirer, speaking to individual state leaders – elected and native – as well as locals.
After reaching out regionally, the Sierra Club told the Inquirer it would approach U.S. Senators and Congressional officials for the region, which was part of the process how, in 2020, the park and reserve New River Gorge in West Virginia became the nation’s 63rd National. Park and West Virginia’s first.
Read more here in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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