With nearly 3,000 acres in agricultural production, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area leads the national park system in the number of acres farmed.
Agriculture plays a very important role in managing the landscape of the recreation area. Without farming, the fields would quickly turn into forest, and farmed fields are part of the cultural landscape -- how the area of the park appeared historically.
The park issues permits for "ag" fields to area farmers through multi-year contracts. In addition to the croplands, farmers have the responsibility of keeping other lands open for wildlife, usually by mowing every couple of years or planting native grasses. Thus, agriculture provides habitat for wildlife.
In order to protect the land from pesticide use, erosion, and other problems associated with modern-day farming practices, farmers must follow a conservation plan developed in consultation with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Our farmers provide valuable services to the park. They keep open areas open, they use their own equipment to help the park complete projects like planting native grasses, and they perpetuate a nearly 1,000-year-old tradition of agriculture in this scenic river valley. Wildlife, birdwatchers, hunters, and park visitors in general all enjoy the benefits of the recreation area's agricultural leasing program.
The agricultural leasing program is managed through the recreation area's Division of Research and Resource Planning in Milford PA. For further information call (570) 296-6952 or e-mail us.