NARROWSBURG, NY — The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) voted unanimously at its June 4 meeting to appeal a National Park Service (NPS) restriction on the use of trailers at the Ten Mile River …
NARROWSBURG, NY — The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) voted unanimously at its June 4 meeting to appeal a National Park Service (NPS) restriction on the use of trailers at the Ten Mile River access site. Hand launch and retrieval of boats, kayaks, and canoes is recommended and subject to enforcement by park rangers.
NPS Acting Superintendent Jessica Weinman defended that decision at the UDC’s May 7 meeting, then describing conditions at the site as a public safety hazard. Sediment buildup at the site, a normal river condition, could cause a truck and trailer to become mired in deep mud.
In a June 4 letter to NPS Regional Director Gay Vietzke, the UDC voiced its objection to the restriction, saying, “We feel that this is an over-reaction to a variable situation prompted by an isolated complaint. It would be better handled through educational signage advising access users of the silty terrain that can occur under certain conditions at this depositional area of the river.”
The letter continues, “We would like to request the statistics on how many mud-related incidents NPS rangers have ever responded to at this access in the past and what enforcement actions the closure of the trailered boat access published in the Superintendent’s Compendium now allows.”
The objection is also based in part on what the UDC sees as unilateral action by the park service, in direct contradiction of the Cooperative Agreement between the UDC and NPS, which states, “The Upper Delaware Council will be the coordinating entity and will have overall responsibility for achieving the goals and objectives of the Water Use Program.”
The letter concludes, “We urge the National Park Service to rescind this premature rule and reframe it as a proposal to allow for substantive input from Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River partners, businesses and the public sector.”
A change in command at NPS may make the letter’s arguments moot. Upper Delaware NPS Superintendent Kristina Heister has been reassigned to the National Historic Park at Valley Forge. Although she was present at the June 4 meeting, it was only to tie up loose ends and say goodbye. The new acting superintendent, Darren Boch, started what is expected to be a four-month term on June 8.
In other business, UDC executive director Laurie Ramie reported on actions taken at the May 27 NY-PA Joint Interstate Bridge Commission webinar meeting, which approved $200,000 to study alternatives for the Skinners Falls Bridge, which has been closed since October 16, 2019. An engineering examination of the bridge done in October found structural defects that make it unsafe for vehicular traffic. The alternatives are abandonment (permanent closure), rehabilitation and construction of a new bridge. The study will be completed by an independent consultant rather than by the bridge commission or PennDOT.
The UDC’s Resource Specialist vacancy remains unfilled. Two candidates in the pipeline prior to the pandemic shutdown have since been eliminated. However, Ramie is hopeful that layoffs in Sullivan County’s planning department will make available several qualified land-use specialists.
Heister said summer recreational activities on the river will proceed, regardless of pandemic shutdown/reopening phases. Portable toilets have been placed at all access sites with signage advising of COVID-19 precautions. Pennsylvania camps will not operate in 2020.
In accordance with Phase Two of New York State’s reopening plan, the UDC office in Narrowsburg is now open to staff and visitors as of Tuesday, June 9. Meetings will continue to be held via teleconference until the state’s maximum gathering number is large enough to accommodate the full council.