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December 08, 2016
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UDC nominates new chair; Keesler praised despite controversy

It continues, “We are concerned about the property rights of individuals living within the Upper Delaware River Wild and Scenic Corridor. There is a difficult quandary that natural gas drilling and exploration poses to the region: how to protect the rights of individuals who choose to contract for the extraction of natural gas, while at the same time protecting the rights of those who choose not to extract gas from their property.”

The letter also recommends a minimum setback from the River District of 500 feet or greater. Dexter objected to that specification, adding that the township has been told it cannot establish a minimum standard. “If we put in 500 feet, we could end up in court,” he said.

Town of Highland representative Andrew Boyar responded, “We haven’t even sent the letter yet. Why don’t we send it so we can get a written response on this?” The letter was approved as drafted.

Town of Tusten representative Tony Ritter noted that the NYC Department of Environmental Protection has announced what it terms a “landmark framework agreement” between the decree parties on management of the Delaware River Basin. The agreement provides a framework for a new interim flow program that allows for the release of more water from the city’s reservoirs to help fisheries and provides for voids in the reservoirs to enhance flood protection. Town of Deerpark representative Phil Chase commented, “It’s the biggest victory we’ve ever had for the river and I’m glad the UDC had a hand in it.”

But while acknowledging some progress has been made, the council approved a letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on water flow management, prepared by the Water Resources Committee, favoring still stronger measures contained in a white paper by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The letter also argues for the inclusion of a “habitat bank” of water to be used for unforeseen circumstances and a set of minimum targets on the upper rivers. The decree party agreement is only scheduled to last one year, so it is not too early to urge such additional changes.

Two other letters from the council were also approved. The first addresses a proposed cell tower on Henderson Road in Mileses, NY; the second applauds the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Draft Delaware River Management Plan. The letters are available for review at the UDC office.