NPS director visits Upper Delaware

By TOM KANE

DAMASCUS, PA — National Park Service Director Fran Mainella got the flavor of the Delaware River first-hand on Sunday, July 24 by kayaking from the Damascus river access to Skinners Falls, NY.

It was her first visit to the area and the first time she had ever kayaked.

“I’m very excited,” she said. She also bought a fishing license while she was here.

President George W. Bush appointed Mainella, who is the 16th director and the first woman to lead the National Park Service. She has more than 30 years of experience in park and recreation management.

This is Mainella’s fifth year as director and the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is the 207th park area she has visited. There are 388 national parks in the United States.

Mainella said the number of visits to national park units is up four percent this year to 277 million and that volunteerism in the parks is up 16 percent.

“Considering that,” she said, “I call parks the spirit of America.”

Mainella reacts to river valley communities

“I’m very impressed with what’s happening along the Upper Delaware,” Mainella said. “It’s not necessary for the service to own things in order to serve the river valley and its people. What I see here is a real partnership among many groups who care about the river. Partnerships are an important way to go.”

A perfect example of what Mainella is talking about is the Scenic and Recreational River that now exists along the Upper Delaware River. Under the leadership of the National Park Service and the Upper Delaware Council, a partnership between river towns along both sides of the river has been in existence since 1986 when representatives from the river towns developed the River Management Plan.

The plan, which was the culmination of long-term efforts by landowners and private groups, as well as the local, state and federal governments, conserves, protects, maintains and enhances the river corridor’s unique resources and social and economic vitality.

Mainella meets the river communities

On Saturday, July 23, she joined with representatives of communities on both sides of the river at the Lackawaxen House in Lackawaxen, PA. Congressman Maurice Hinchey was among those who greeted her to celebrate the living partnerships that help conserve the valley.

“There I was sitting in Pennsylvania, looking across the river to New York with New Jersey a few miles to the south,” she said. “It was a rare experience for me to be in such a vital place and to meet people dedicated to this river.”

On Sunday, before kayaking, Mainella visited the Riverfest celebration in Narrowsburg, NY, which drew thousands of people to the event that celebrates the art, music and river ecology.

“It’s so good to see that the Upper Delaware is such an important part of everyone’s lives here,” Mainella said. “This doesn’t happen without all the partnerships.”

Mainella visited the National Park Service Bookstore and the booths of the Upper Delaware Council, the Visioning Committee of the Upper Delaware River Corridor and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. “I saw how they were giving out important information to the people. It’s important what they’re doing,” she said.

On Monday, Mainella visited the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and joined staff and volunteers participating in the annual Delaware River Clean Up, sponsored by Kittatinny Canoes and Ruth Jones, owner of the canoe livery.

In the evening, she met community members in Milford, PA at the Cliff Park Inn.

Mainella planned to meet with Laura Bush on Wednesday at the Minneapolis, MN NPS site.

For the remarks of Pike County Historian George J. Fluhr at the 2005 at reception for NPS Director Mainella, click here.

Thoughts from the NPS director

(The following are excerpts from the speech delivered by Fran Mainella at the Inn at Lackawaxen on July 23.)

• I am a committed believer in the value of effective partnerships.

• The Upper Delaware demonstrates how we can achieve more working together than we could possibly do alone.

• We are here to celebrate the Delaware River, which is the longest free flowing river east of the Mississippi.

• The love for scenic beauty of this river, the enjoyment that so many have found in this river, and the commitment to the lands that border it are shared goals of the communities and the people of the river valley.

• It’s wonderful that so many people are here tonight representing the range of partnerships that have made the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreation River successful, from Sparrowbush to Hancock.

• The Gateways to places of public enjoyment are critical to their success. Regrettably, this trip will be brief and I won’t get to Hancock, but I am also glad that I’ll have an opportunity to see Port Jervis and the Mongaup area.

• Looking out the window, I’m awed by the Roebling Bridge as an engineering marvel, a historic treasure and a preservation challenge.

• America’s grand traditions of citizen responsibility and involvement have made it possible to maintain a 55,000 acre river corridor with just 30 acres in Federal ownership.

• This project is recreation in its truest meaning—creating ourselves again, renewing ourselves in places that inspire and refresh us.

—Fran Mainella

TRR photo by Tom Kane
NPS director Fran Mainella gets ready to kayak on the Upper Delaware River at Damascus, PA on July 24. (Click for larger version)
TRR photo by Tom Kane
NPS Superintendent Dave Forney, left, Don Hamilton, and fishing guide Ken Schultz, pose for a group shot with NPS director Fran Mainella, Susie Kaspar and Assistant Superintendent Sandra Schultz before embarking on a kayak trip to Skinners Falls. (Click for larger version)