Upper Delaware Council meets by phone

Postpones key projects

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NARROWSBURG, NY — “I’ve got a little American flag on the desk in front of me, so let’s start the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Upper Delaware Council (UDC) Chair Larry Richardson, as he opened the April 2 UDC meeting via teleconference.

It marked the first time in executive director Laurie Ramie’s 23-year tenure with the UDC that the full UDC board and its partners, the Upper Delaware National Park Service (NPS), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the Pennsylvania Department of Forestry (PA DCNR Dept of Forestry), the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), and the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA), as well as media representatives and members of the public, met by telephone, each calling in from home.

Ramie said anyone interested in participating in a UDC teleconference meeting should contact secretary Ashley Hall-Bagdonas via e-mail [ashley@upperdelawarecouncil.org]. A working telephone is the only equipment needed.

The introduction of a temporary resolution to permit voting via telephone for the duration of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order was agenda item number one. Richardson said the resolution is necessary because the UDC’s bylaws do not expressly permit voting by phone, although the bylaws were amended in 2017 to permit voting by e-mail. 

When Lumberland representative Nadia Rajsz began discussion of the proposed resolution by asking that it be revised to make telephone voting a permanent option, Richardson said that could be accomplished only with bylaw amendment. Even though that amendment is apparently favored by the board, the lengthy process required for its accomplishment makes the temporary resolution necessary until the amendment process can be completed. The resolution passed unanimously, minus absent Westfall Township.

The board also voted unanimously to send a letter in support of a Delaware Highlands Conservancy grant application for land acquisition. All votes were taken by roll call.

The UDC office has been closed since 8 p.m. on March 22, in compliance with state-mandated non-essential business closures. Ramie said she and Hall-Bagdonas have been working from home and taking turns visiting the office to collect mail, check voice mail messages, and access e-files.

“Unfortunately, some business is best done only in face-to-face meetings,” NPS Upper Delaware acting superintendent Jessica Weinman said. Among that business are key UDC projects postponed until the shelter-in-place order is lifted: hiring of a new resource specialist; the Five-Year Strategic Plan Retreat; the Annual UDC Awards Banquet; and the Upper Delaware Litter Sweep.

Ramie said three candidates for the resource specialist position, now open for three months, are awaiting interviews. She added that, even if one were hired, that person would spend the duration of the shelter-in-place order at home studying the river management plan. In the interim, planning firm Shepstone Management has been performing crucial aspects of the job.

Tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 30, the Five-Year Strategic Plan Retreat is designed to unite the UDC, its partners, and other stakeholders in a one-day off-premises “think tank” at the Damascus Community Center. Architect Buck Moorhead of Callicoon was hired as facilitator of the retreat designed to develop initiatives for the next five years.

Pennsylvania Rep. Jonathan Fritz will be guest speaker at the Sunday, June 7 Annual UDC Awards Banquet, contingent on the viability of that date.

Upper Delaware Litter Sweep coordinator Dan Paparella announced that the river corridor cleanup, originally scheduled for April 22-25 (to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day), will be postponed to spring 2021. Individuals are welcome to pluck on their own, provided they maintain social distancing protocols. For more information, see www.bit.ly/UDCsweep.

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