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UDC: A quarter-century of partnership

May 1, 2013

Finally, in 1988, 25 years ago, a different management plan, written here in the valley, with the involvement of New York towns and Pennsylvania townships, business groups, hunting and fishing groups and even volunteer private citizens, created the Upper Delaware Council in a very unique plan. The concept on which the council is based is so new that, although it has been active for 25 years, we still, too often, have to explain a few things.

We still tell people, “This may be a unit of the National Park System but this is not a national park. Indeed the River Management Plan put it in bold print on page 15, saying “Therefore the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is not a national park.”....

For the first time in history, the American government gave up its right to condemn land, unless a local government does not keep the contract, and even then, condemnation would lead only to a resale with deed restrictions. And under no circumstances could the federal government ever have more than 124 acres…. The representatives of the United States of America wanted so much to preserve the beauty of the Upper Delaware that they were willing to forgo their inalienable right of confiscation if the local governments would only protect the scenery and ecology of the land, through zoning. And—surprise—some of our towns were ahead of them and had already done it. The federal government got what it wanted, and our local citizens kept what belonged to them...

Moreover, the National Park Service agreed to manage the surface of the river. With over a quarter million users annually, and the risks many of these users take, and their garbage, policing of the river was recognized as a task that local governments neither wanted nor could afford, even though it was in their jurisdiction.

For the past 25 years, the contract has been kept and the council has met the challenge of preserving the river and corridor, and avoiding confiscation….

Our voting members are the two states (New York and Pennsylvania) and 13 local governments (New York towns and PA townships) which border on the Upper Delaware River. The Delaware River Basin Commission… is a non-voting member of the council. We operate under a direct contractual relationship with the National Park Service for the oversight, coordination, and implementation of the River Management Plan as approved by the Secretary of the Interior (who is appointed by the President.)