As you may be aware, there is currently a State Resolution on the floor of the NJ State Senate (SR98) which OPPOSES the redesignation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to a National Park and Preserve. This is GREAT news!
This resolution was introduced by NJ State Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths (link below to view the resolution).
So what happens next?
The NJ Senate Environment and Energy Committee will vote on this resolution, and then The State Senate of NJ will vote on it. Chances are, many of these individuals may not be fully aware of this issue, so it is time for us to write to them. There is a form letter available for you to use below. You are of course welcome to write your own letter, or use excerpts from or add your own thoughts to the letter below.
Every email address for the members of the NJ Senate Environment and Energy Committe, as well as for all the NJ State Senators are listed below. Keep in mind that you can send group emails using the "cc" or "bcc" sections, so you don't have to send every email individually.
A huge thank you for your efforts! If the NJ State Senate votes to oppose this redesignation, the chances of it happening SIGNIFICANTLY decrease. Together, we are really making a difference.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
-- Margaret Mead
Dear [Sir or Madame / State Senator's name here],
I am writing to you as a concerned citizen regarding the proposal to redesignate the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to a National Park and Preserve put forth by Mr. John Donahue and members of the Sierra Club. I ask that you take the following into consideration, and vote to support SR 98, which opposes the redesignation.
My concerns are as follows: the environmental impacts of increased visitation and additional infrastructure development, both within and outside the proposed National Park and Preserve, increased strain on local EMS responding to calls within the proposed Park and Preserve, the lack of regard for the state recognized Lenape tribes (who oppose the proposal), and the reduction of equitable access to the area should it become a National Park and Preserve.
The proponents of this plan estimate an additional 600K to 1 million visitors per year to the area. This will increase overcrowding and ecological damage. The existing infrastructure cannot handle the current visitation numbers and additional visitation (and the required infrastructure to support it) will have significant environmental impact.
To quote the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, who are opposed to this plan,
"National Park status will significantly increase the number of visitors to the park in the near term and the long term – thereby increasing the environmental footprint and creating increasing rationale for additional infrastructure including parking lots, sewage treatment and other utility facilities, hotel housing, and other development. The footprint and activities plan, by sheer virtue of their size and scope, will inflict irremediable harm and undermine any efforts of NPS to prioritize river protection over visitor experience. And as with other national parks nationwide, the new status will attract massive new development activity outside of the park that will cause a level of local buildout that will inflict additional unacceptable harm over which the NPS has no control."
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network also address another concern: neglecting the views of the local Lenape people: “We are concerned that while Lenape representatives living in the Midwest have been included in the planning process, the Lenape Nation and tribes of our region, those that have an intimate, personal and enduring relationship with our River and watershed have not. The perspective of the local Lenape tribes and people is essential and must be honored. Failure to include them in planning seems a dramatic oversight of high concern.”
Additionally, increased visitation to the area will inevitably result in increased calls to our local EMS, using valuable resources our communities both pay for and rely on. More calls to the proposed park means less availability to our communities. This has been a challenge faced in and around New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia, which was redesignated from a National Recreation Area to a National Park in 2020 as a rider on a Covid bill.
Lastly, a National Park is more exclusive than a recreation area, both in the activities permitted and in the people able to access them. No matter what, whether through entrance fees, use fees, permit structures, etc., there are groups of people—specifically low-income and minority families—that will be excluded from recreational opportunities currently available to them in the recreation area.
Currently, 12 townships and 2 counties in New Jersey, and 6 townships in Pennsylvania have passed resolutions opposing this redesignation. Four educational institutions are also opposed.
I thank you for your time and consideration and ask that you vote to support SR 98, opposing the redesignation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to a National Park and Preserve.
[Your name here]
Email addresses for NJ Senate Environment and Energy Committee:
(D) Bob Smith, Chair SenatorBSmith@njleg.org
(D) Linda R. Greenstein, Vice Chair SenatorGreenstein@njleg.org
(D) Richard J. Codey, Votes SenatorCodey@njleg.org
(R) Edward Durr, Votes SenatorDurr@njleg.org
(R) Jean Stanfield, Votes SenatorStanfield@njleg.org
Dem – Joseph Gurrentz 609-847-3700
Rep – Rebecca Panitch 609-847-3600
OLS- Eric Hanse, Christina Denney 609-847-3855
Email addresses for NJ State Senators:
SenOroho@njleg.org (sponsor of bill)
To download and view a .pdf of SR98, click the link below