The Lower Delaware: Wild and Scenic?
If you have only
seen the Delaware River through the window of a car; you might be
surprised to learn the window is a Wild and Scenic River. The river
offers a beautiful background for most of the views from the roads
that run alongside, but it does not look very natural-much less
wild-from an automobile.
Escape on the River
view from the river is quite different than one imagines from the
road. Water and trees dominate the landscape. When you are on this
lovely, quiet river, it is hard to believe that the homes, offices
and shops of 20 million people are within a few hours drive. The
man-made world seems far away.
Years to Designation
The Upper Delaware
stretching 78 miles between Hancock, New York and the Delaware Water
Gap entered the Wild and Scenic program in 1978. Soon after, a proposed
dam on other free-flowing portions of the river prompted Congress
to designate 37 miles along the Middle Delaware which flows through
the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and is managed as
a unit of the National Park Service.
Some 22 years
later, a plan to pump 100 million gallons of water a day from the
lower reaches of the river spurred the Delaware River Greenway Partnership
to seek designation for the Lower Delaware as a Partnership Wild
and Scenic River. Congress passed the desgination in November 2000.
Wild and Scenic Status Inspires Locals
and Scenic status has raised public consciousness of the national
importance of the river and improved communication among the Lower
Delaware River communities. The Lower Delaware River study and its
designation have inspired a number of local efforts to protect the
natural, historic, and scenic and recreational resources that made
the river eligible for designation. For instance, largely as a result
of the Study process, the state acquired Hendrick Island a natural
oasis of more than 100 acres in Solebury Township, and designated
several other state-owned islands as a Pennsylvania Natural Area.
designation, a committee has formed to oversee implementation of
the goals of the management plan written by state and local officials,
businesses, and citizens, and the river corridor is alive with activity.
The committee and the Greenway Partnership are conducting a stream
corridor restoration projects, preparing open space and recreation
plans, and developing a landower stewardship program.
Water Quality Study
particularly important initiative has been launched by the interstate
Delaware River Basin Commission. They have formed a committee to
oversee a 5-year study of the water quality in the Lower Delaware.
The Commission is also considering awarding "Special Protection
Waters" status to the Lower Delaware. This status is an important
step in providing even more protection to the river's water quality
which is one of the resources for which it received designation.
committee awarded municipal incentive grants last summer to encourage
action at the local level. "The municipal incentive grant program
is a great way to get municipalities to actively participate in
implementing the River Management Plan," says Jim Amon, chairman
of the Management Committee. "It helps us demonstrate why designation
of the river is a good thing."