National Park

Warren County Backtracks and Opposes Designation of Delaware Water Gap National Park | State

BELVIDERE, NJ — By unanimous vote, the Warren County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution late Wednesday that reversed its previous support for efforts to make the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area a national park.

Commissioner Jason Sarnoski introduced the resolution, which was not on the official agenda, opposing the transformation of the already popular national recreation area into a national park.

While acknowledging the board’s passing of a resolution in February in favor of national park designation, he noted that since then the New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters of the Sierra Club, other organizations National and congressional leaders have expressed goals that are not aligned with those of the Warren County Board of Commissioners.

In particular, the resolution, which was read by Sarnoski, claims that organizations advocating for a national park have not “provided comprehensive information or promoted transparency on issues related to hunting, fishing, wildlife management, outdoor recreation, eminent domain and other matters of importance”. to our county people.”

Additionally, the resolution calls for a formal plan to address questions regarding agriculture, the economic and environmental impacts of a national park designation, sources of funding, proposed fees, and plans for public and private land acquisition. by eminent domain or by other means.

“I think it’s important that we take a cautious approach moving forward,” Sarnoski said.

Commissioner James Kern III said conversations need to take place at the local level where organizations can provide feedback before a decision is made.

Passive and active recreation are important in Warren County, especially hunting and fishing, Commissioner Lori Ciesla said, adding that any changes that may affect the ability to hunt and fish should be addressed before heading out. to a national park.

Many facts are still unknown, and until all is understood and clarified, Sarnoski advised that it is best to take “a wait-and-see approach”.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area encompasses 70,000 acres of mountains and forests on both sides of the middle section of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The council’s first resolution recognized that a national park designation would benefit the region by providing additional recognition and prestige and more funding to make necessary repairs and improvements to infrastructure to help local economies.

Supported by Sierra Club chapters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a movement began last year to change the designation of the recreation area, which encompasses parts of Warren and Sussex counties in New Jersey, counties of Pike and Monroe in Pennsylvania and Orange and Sullivan counties in New York.

There are 64 national parks, with only nine east of the Mississippi River. If made a national park, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area would be the first national park in New, Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Oxford Mountain Natural Resource Area

In other business, the council unanimously passed a resolution to purchase 9.45 acres of timber property in Washington Township as open space to expand the Oxford Mountain Natural Resource Area and provide a additional access and trail connectivity. The land currently belongs to the Balzek family; the purchase price is $84,000.

The 349-acre Oxford Mountain Natural Resource Area is owned by Warren County and managed in partnership with the Highlands Community Service Project, New Jersey Youth Corps, Warren County Parks Foundation and Metro Trails hike.

Last year, the county preserved four properties comprising 49 acres. Since 2011, he has preserved 27 properties comprising 642 acres of county parkland, Kern said.