No National Park
Who Are We?
The Delaware Water Gap Defense Fund is a 501c(3) non profit created to promote awareness of the Sierra Club proposal to change the designation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to a National Park. Our goal is to provide transparency and search for factual answers to the many questions that arise from this proposal. The DWGDF was established to protect the Recreation Area in perpetuity.
Why are we opposed to the plan?
The Delaware Water Gap Defense Fund is opposed to this proposal for the following reasons:
Details: There is no clear plan disclosed to the public. The Sierra Club's proposal lacks any detail as to changes in Park boundaries, permitted uses, fees, and visitation, as well as impacts on local environment, economy, and infrastructure. No entities should be supporting any proposal without this detailed information.
DEIJ — Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice: Recreation Areas are among the most DEIJ positive units in the National Park Service (NPS) system. DEWA hosts an incredibly diverse array of visitors and recreation activities—most of which are entirely free of cost, making its activities extremely equitable—and includes as many recreational opportunities as possible. A change to a National Park can only REDUCE this diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, the most obvious being that a fee will be required for entry to a park that is currently free to visit. One use which has shown itself to be of great concern is the loss of hunting within the current DEWA boundaries.
Infrastructure: A stated goal of the change is to increase visitation to DEWA. Increased visitation means increased impacts on infrastructure inside the park and in surrounding local communities. The park already has a $160 MILLION deferred maintenance backlog. Increased visitation will result in more tourism and development in our communities and within the park will require building of a visitor center, more bathrooms, more parking, etc. Local communities will experience higher traffic burdens and may need to improve and expand highways leading into the Park, like route 206 in NJ and route 209 in PA, with the burden on the local taxpayers. Currently there are many access roads leading into the park which would likely be closed to control fee based access. And with increased visitation, local police, fire, and EMS services will see increased burdens.
Funding: A major piece of misinformation being circulated is that the change in designation will result in an increase in funding. It is true that DEWA is badly in need of better funding, but the designation change would not guarantee additional funding. Funding for NPS units is based on a complicated rubric involving the size of the unit, the infrastructure demands of the unit, the personnel necessary to manage the unit, visitation numbers, and more. Designation of a unit is irrelevant to this funding rubric. Of the 423 NPS units across the Nation, 2 of the top 5 funded units are National Recreation Areas, and DEWA itself ranks 27th in funding, ahead of 423 NPS units including 48 National Parks. Yes, of the 63 National Parks in the U.S., DEWA already has a larger budget than 48 of those National Parks. Still, DEWA needs better management and better funding, but this can be done WITHOUT changing the designation and bringing an estimated 600,000 to one million new visitors each year.
Change of land use: Currently, there are tracts of land along the Delaware river that are leased to farmers who produce crops such as corn and soy, which mainly go to feeding livestock. The loss of this farmland will disrupt the local economy and food chain. If eminent domain were used to acquire privately owned property, the loss of property tax revenue would directly impact the local school systems, whose Impact Aid (intended to offset this loss) must be re-applied for each year and has been significantly decreasing every year. Increased traffic and possible tolls on route 209 would significantly impact commuters. Additionally, the acquisition of Stokes State Forest, High Point, and Worthington State forests would change their status to National Park as well.
There are many concerns within these main topic areas. Ultimately we ALL need more information and are SEEKING INFORMATION from elected leaders at all levels of local, state, and federal government, and from the NPS and Sierra Club.
The following Counties and Municipalities have passed resolutions to oppose the re-designation until more information is provided to the public for review and comment:
The following members of Congress are opposed:
Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), member of the US House of Representatives serving New Jersey's 5th District
Tomas Kean (D-NJ), member of the US House of Representatives serving New Jersey's 7th District
Matt Cartwright (D-PA), member of the US House of Representatives serving Pennsylvania’s 8th District
NJ State Senator Steve Oroho (R)
NJ State Senator Doug Steinhardt (R)
NJ Assemblymen Parker Space
NJ Assemblymen Hal Wirths (click HERE to see their statement)
PA State Senator Lisa Baker (R)
PA State Representative Joe Adams (R)
PA State Representative Maureen Madden (D)
The following Educational bodies have also passed resolutions to oppose the current plan to re-designate the DWGNRA to a National Park:
Kittatinny Regional High School (NJ)
The Hampton Board of Education (NJ)
Montague Township Board of Education (NJ)
The following organizations are opposed:
The Delaware River Keeper Network
The Pike County Planning Commission
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
The Hercules Rod & Gun Club
The NJ Federation of Sportsmen
The PA Federation of Sportsmen
New Jersey Outdoor Alliance
Orange County Federation of Sportsmen
The Bergen County Federation of Sportsmen
Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Safari Club
Delaware River Shad Fishermen's Association
The following Community Associations have passed a resolution to oppose:
Conashaugh Lakes Community Association (PA)
Pocono Mountain Lake Estates (PA)
Both Milford Township and Milford Borough have sent letters to our two state representatives and three federal representatives asking that they not vote on any bill that could or would redesignate the DWGNRA until more information was available.
The Pike County Commissioners have stated their opposition to the re-designation on the record. They have written letters to our congressional representative asking they not vote on the re-designation until more information is available.
The Monroe County Commissioners have stated their opposition and have sent letters to our congressional representatives making it clear that more information is needed and questions need to be answered before this can be voted on.
With research and collection of data and resources, the proposal and final plan of the designation change can be challenged and defeated, resulting in the protection of the DWGNRA as it is. The work to be accomplished is through the efforts of volunteers working to gather support through the education of communities affected by the proposed change, communication with local and congressional officials urging no support until a plan is revealed to the public and public hearings are held.
How can I help?
1) BY USING YOUR VOICE. Write and email your representatives locally and in Washington. Writing samples, email addresses, and physical addresses are provided on THIS PAGE
2) ATTEND your municipal and county meetings and make statements - speak up and speak out against the proposal. Meeting times and dates are listed on THIS PAGE
3) CHALLENGE newspaper articles that tout the benefits - Write letters to the editors, let them hear the liabilities. Let local reporters know about the movement and the reasons to oppose.
4) SPREAD THE WORD Talk to your friends and neighbors. Let them know about our efforts and encourage them to visit this website and our FaceBook Page, "No National Park"
5) PUT A SIGN IN YOUR YARD or at your place of business. Contact Sandy Hull directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for a sign.
6) DONATE TO THE CAUSE Money collected will finance signage to create more public awareness, billboard space, operating costs of this website, covering filing fees for our 501(c)3 non profit status, costs of printed materials, printer ink, etc. We volunteer our time and do not take a stipend or salary. If you'd like to make a donation, click on the "Donate" button below, or contact Sandy Hull directly at email@example.com
7) SIGN THE PETITION. Click HERE to sign our petition on change.org