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December 08, 2016
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UDC & NPS Host Workshop On River Management Plan

NPS Superintendent McGuinness recounted how the Upper Delaware was the 19th river to be designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. He reviewed the Public Law’s outline for such procedures as mapping the corridor boundaries, publishing Land and Water Use Guidelines, placing limitations on NPS land ownership, and conducting substantial conformance reviews.
McGuinness characterized the RMP as “the bible that we work with” and offered real-life examples of how its principles and objectives have been put into practice.

He asked the workshop participants to do their part by keeping the UDC and NPS informed of local developments.“The law says that we’re all supposed to work together to protect this river. We have to know what’s going on out there. If there’s a project that’s happening in your town or township, you should send it to the UDC for review,” McGuinness said.

With the exception of the Townships of Buckingham and Manchester that NPS oversees because they have opted against joining the UDC to date, the Council conducts reviews of projects in all other river valley municipalities under the terms of its Cooperative Agreement with the Park Service and as a member service.

“We’re at the point now where the Upper Delaware Council is being looked at as the bad guys in the river corridor. The UDC is you,” McGuinness countered. “You people make the decisions. We’re here to help protect the river and our quality of life.”

Land and Water Use Guidelines

NPS Chief of Resource Management Don Hamilton, UDC Senior Resource Specialist David Soete, and Community Planning and Management, LLC Planning Consultant Carson Helfrich provided an overview of the Land and Water Use Guidelines.

“These are common sense, rule of thumb, and for the most part have already been incorporated into local zoning,” Hamilton said.

Soete reviewed the list of Compatible and Incompatible Land Uses in scenic, recreational, and hamlet sections of the corridor, along with their allowable conditions.

“The intent is to direct more industrial, commercial uses into the hamlet areas,” he said, adding however that the drafters of the 1986 Plan left “wiggle room” for interpretation and could not anticipate every modern technological development.

“There were some uses never envisioned by the River Management Plan, like cell towers and major wind turbines,” Soete said.
He emphasized that the Land and Water Use Guidelines are advisory in nature. Local governments’ home rule authority prevails.