UDC appeal of TMR access restrictions denied

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 7/8/20

NARROWSBURG, NY – At its July 2 meeting, the first live meeting since March, the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) welcomed National Park Service (NPS) acting superintendent Darren Boch to the Upper …

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UDC appeal of TMR access restrictions denied

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NARROWSBURG, NY – At its July 2 meeting, the first live meeting since March, the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) welcomed National Park Service (NPS) acting superintendent Darren Boch to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, bid a reluctant farewell to NPS community and land use planner Jennifer Claster and rejected NPS Regional Director Gay Vietzke’s decision to uphold trailer launch restrictions at the Ten Mile River access site.

Boch, who introduced himself to the full council for the first time, said in his opening statement, “It’s an odd time to take on an acting superintendent role. The river is open and visitors are here, but Zane Grey Museum is closed and most of my staff is teleworking while I sit alone in the headquarters office. I need to familiarize myself with the local resources.”

Five minutes later, he found a way to do it. Two caches of discarded tires, each containing dozens of tires, are littering the river between Cochecton and Callicoon. Boch volunteered himself to remove them.

Boch, who left his family back home in Paterson, NJ when his temporary assignment here began on June 8, said, “Unless I get a warm, fuzzy feeling about this place, I’ll be heading back to my family on October 2.”

Boch bemoaned the loss of Claster, who leaves her current post on July 19 for a promotion to the NPS Regional Office in Philadelphia, PA. During her two-year tenure in the Upper Delaware, Claster was instrumental in the development of the Project Review Workbook and helped instruct local planners in the use of the geographic information systems mapping tool and other new planning technologies as well. The council voted unanimously to send her a letter of commendation in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the NPS and UDC.

Before yielding the floor, Boch announced a waiver of 2021 commercial use authorization permit fees to help offset catastrophic 2020 business losses experienced by guides, liveries and other business providers as a result of the pandemic.

Boch offered no comment as Water and Resource Management (WURM) Committee Chair Andy Boyar expressed the council’s disappointment with Vietzke’s July 1 letter response to the UDC’s June 4 letter request that the NPS reconsider its trailer launch restriction at the Ten Mile River (TMR) access.

Vietzke’s letter states that the WURM committee was aware of unsafe conditions caused by heavy silt deposits at the launch site. Boyar claims that those conditions were noted by the committee in August of 2019 and have since resolved on their own. He went on, “Today, there is not a river guide access user who would have any problem whatsoever with either launch or extraction at the TMR access. The restriction reflects last year’s landing conditions, which have since improved significantly. Closing the access does economic injury to licensed guides, who have been getting in and out without problems, and negatively impacts both recreational river users and those whose livelihoods depend on the TMR smallmouth fishery.”

The WURM Committee will revisit the NPS decision with an eye toward finding an alternative to trailer launch restriction. UDC chair Larry Richardson suggested a flag warning system to alert access users to potentially unsafe conditions. Tusten alternate and fishing guide Evan Padua disagreed, saying a more permanent solution, like a concrete ramp, should be tried.

A straw poll vote to see if the council favors holding a twice-postponed annual awards dinner in late August produced a decision to cancel the dinner. This year’s honorees, already announced, will receive their awards at a spring 2021 dinner.

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